Dr. Ben Bedder experienced the glory days of dental sleep medicine, regularly treating 25-35 sleep patients every month for about four years. However, when both his referral sources retired, his patient count dropped to almost zero. Dr. Bedder found himself at a crossroads, unsure of what to do next.

Netflix’s success story offers valuable lessons for sleep practitioners like Dr. Bedder. Just like Netflix’s evolution from a DVD rental service to a streaming giant, DSM practices must adapt to changing circumstances to stay relevant and successful. It teaches us to be attuned to market shifts, technological advancements, and customer preferences. Netflix transformed its business model to adapt to changing times, and your practice can pivot to overcome challenges and seize new opportunities.

In times of challenge, there’s a powerful strategy that can transform your sleep practice and lead you to new heights—pivoting.

In Dr. Bedder’s situation, should he just lay down and give up? Nope, his future lies in his ability to pivot, the final step in the G.O. D.E.E.P. process. He can schedule time to meet with the new practice owners. Maybe he should step up his physician networking activities to establish more referral relationships. Is it time to consider hiring a full-time physician liaison? Direct-to-patient marketing is another possible avenue. These are all potential pivots.

Pivoting doesn’t always require grand gestures; often, it’s the incremental changes that add up to significant progress. Consider updating your case presentation verbiage to increase case acceptance or revamping the sleep consultation room’s décor to make it more inviting. Offering Home Sleep Test (HST) units to patients and using services that encourage online reviews can also boost your practice’s reputation and patient satisfaction.

Avoiding the sunk cost fallacy is crucial. If a particular strategy or equipment is no longer serving your practice, don’t hesitate to make changes. Whether it’s letting go of an underperforming team member or opting for a more efficient service, pivoting based on current needs is essential for growth. Don’t anchor yourself to losing strategies. Sometimes you just have to let go to keep going.

In the world of dental sleep medicine, stagnation is not an option. Medicare guidelines change, payors throw curveballs, and referral sources come and go. Waiting for things to improve on their own won’t cut it. Hoping for a return to the old ways won’t save your practice; instead, embrace change and become proactive in seeking opportunities.

Continuous improvement, fueled by small steps over time, will lead to significant results for your practice. The key is embracing the Japanese concept of kaizen, or “change for good,” which emphasizes continuous improvement.

As with most journeys, progress will seldom be linear. You may encounter setbacks, but remember, C. S. Lewis said, “To get nearer to your goals, don’t move forward blindly.” If something isn’t working, course correct and pivot in a new direction. This is not the end of the road; it’s an opportunity for transformation.

The path to success for your sleep practice lies in embracing change and pursuing continuous improvement. Pivoting is not just a buzzword; it’s a powerful strategy that can lead to better patient outcomes, increased referrals, and enhanced business success. Learn from Netflix’s story, and be proactive in evaluating processes, adapting to change, and pivoting as needed. By doing so, you’ll navigate the challenges of the ever-changing healthcare landscape and position your sleep practice as a leader in the field. Remember, nothing changes if nothing changes—so pivot to thrive!

If you want to take a deep dive into more concrete examples of pivoting in dental sleep medicine along with real examples from Dr. Steve Carstensen and Dr. Stacey Layman, order your copy of my new Amazon Bestselling book Transform Dental Sleep: The Step-by-Step Guide to Doubling Your Sleep Patients, Increasing Physician Referrals, Simplifying Processes, and Improving Your Life.

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