By Alitta Boechler, AuD, MBA, DrBicuspid.com contributing writer

October 4, 2017 -- The immediate human and economic effects of Hurricane Harvey's historic wind and water damage were visible to all. Rescue and relief efforts began immediately in hopes of helping the people and businesses in affected areas of Texas begin to recover.

But how much did this natural disaster affect Texas dental practices? This article examines how much revenue was lost in the wake of Hurricane Harvey by comparing data from 2016 and 2017. This is only the first look into the initial financial implications of lost revenue.

Production and collections down

During the four weeks surrounding Hurricane Harvey's landfall on August 25, the weather event had a significant effect on Texas dental practices. The average gross production decreased from $103,479 in 2016 to $86,131 in 2017, a reduction of 17%. Average collections dropped by 16% (see chart below).

Comparison of production & revenue in Texas dental practices
Comparison of production and revenue in Texas dental practices

Production is defined as the revenue brought into the practice through clinical procedures and collections as the money received over the counter or from dental benefits companies.

“The ramifications of these unprecedented storms will continue to evolve.”

Many practices in the affected areas were closed for several days as roadways were under water, buildings were damaged, and power was out. This likely is the driving reason why production decreased significantly, with the second most likely cause being patients unable to attend appointments due to situational circumstances.

Many payments are delayed because of dental benefit claims processing. This delay is likely why collections were not as negatively affected as production, as claims may still have been processed for pre-event procedures.

Veterinary

We wanted to contrast dental practices with animal health practices, including veterinary clinics and hospitals, to get an idea of the scope of the issue. Animal health practices, it turns out, were even more drastically affected than dental practices.

Their gross production dropped from $108,826 in 2016 to $31,459 in 2017. This was a decrease of 71%. Collections also were down 72%. Animal health is a cash-based industry with few insurance options, so little to no collections would take place outside of the immediate care transaction.

Conclusion

The ramifications of these unprecedented storms will continue to evolve. What cannot be quantified at this time is the long-term consequences of unavailability of healthcare services during the hurricane recovery process ahead.

This article looked only at the initial effects of Hurricane Harvey. Results indicate that loss of production for dentists was significant. However, the damage done by this storm will have a lasting effect on the economy and these practices, as lower production is expected in the coming weeks.

With the loss of property, transportation, business, and income, it may be likely that residents of Texas will be less able to afford future dental care, especially in nonemergency situations. This will likely lead to a long-term decrease in revenue in the industry and negatively affect the lives and well-being of those who live and work in this area. Over time, this situation should be monitored to fully quantify the long-term economic impact as the states rebuild.

Alitta Boechler is the digital marketing director at Sikka Software. You can contact her at alitta.boechler@sikkasoftware.com. Practice Mobilizer is a free app that lets dentists send HIPAA-compliant video messages, tracks patient arrival times, provides ZIP code-specific fee data, and more. Dentists can check out store.sikkasoft.com or the mobile app at www.practicemobilizer.com.

Please note that the data should be used for comparison only.

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.


Copyright © 2017 DrBicuspid.com
 

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