The death of traditional orthodontic meetings

2013 12 23 15 23 25 385 Second Opinion 200

Traditionally, we orthodontists loved to go to an exotic location with an abundance of activities and spend several days or even a week enjoying ourselves while "attending" a meeting to fulfill our continuing education (CE) requirements and catch up with classmates.

The combination of a fun trip and a business meeting allowed us to have our businesses help fund the cost of our family vacation; we have all been taught to love business expenses. The problem is that the traditional meetings and the membership required to attend them are just so expensive and the exotic locations are costly and difficult to get to.

Benjamin Burris, DDS.Benjamin Burris, DDS.

Plus, having a meeting of any size in a locale like that drives the already high price of food, lodging, and activities even higher. Add to this the differing opinions among baby boomers, gen Xers, and gen Yers as to what constitutes a great vacation location, and the fact that "business money" is still our money and should be spent wisely, and what you will see in the next 10 years is an acceleration in the decline of attendance at regional and national orthodontic meetings put on by our member organization. Guaranteed.

Filling the void

What will fill the void? Facebook groups such as Orthodontic Exchange, Pragmatic Orthodontic Clinical Discussions, Pro Ortho FE, and the Dentsply GAC Young-Docs Study Group provide real-time interaction, education, camaraderie, and feedback 24/7, 365 days a year. These online communities have also created their own in-person meetings, and their relatively small size and intimate relationships allow for much greater flexibility in meeting location.

“What you will see in the next 10 years is an acceleration in the decline of attendance at regional and national orthodontic meetings put on by our member organization.”

Vendor meetings also are going strong. The Invisalign Ortho Summit, the Ormco Forum, and the Dentsply GAC Orthodontic World Congress are great examples of vendor-specific meetings that will help displace traditional meetings in the future.

These vendor meetings tend to be held in upscale venues, but the cost of attendance is typically lower than the traditional meetings. There are no membership dues to further inflate the price. These vendor meetings will be appealing for a long time to come.

We will also see the rise of vendor/organization independent meetings such as the MKS Forum, where the purpose is to offer a massive amount of top-tier, intensive CE in both business and clinical aspects of orthodontic practice in an easy-to-get-to hub location with a very reasonable admission fee, no membership dues, and at an affordable place to stay.

Serving members

As the number of orthodontists and others offering orthodontics continues to increase, competition will increase, the cost of doing business will increase, and the average practice profitability will decline. To survive in the new reality, practitioners, especially younger doctors, will need to seek out ways to hone their craft and enhance their business acumen without expending massive amounts of time or money. As it always does, the market will adapt, and this will force market participants who have to watch the bottom line in our practices to do the same.

The question is, will organized orthodontics recognize the problem and try to serve its membership?

Ben Burris, DDS, is an orthodontist, writer, speaker, philanthropist, activist, and patient advocate. He can be contacted at OrthoPundit.com.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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