Several members of Dental Protection’s Singaporean team attended the IDEM Conference, in 2012 and what a refreshing change this made from the general trend of major conferences around the world, most of which are finding it increasingly difficult to attract the same kind of attendance as they might confidently have expected in the past. IDEM is certainly bucking that trend and the 2012 conference was another great success.
We were also pleased to have been given the opportunity of presenting a session on the IDEM programme this year, covering the dento-legal aspects of orthodontics - not least because this has, over many years, featured prominently amongst the cases we have seen in Singapore.
Four months later DPL met with representatives of the SDA, this time in Hong Kong while attending this year’s FDI World Dental Congress with another Dental Protection lecture there.
Although information technology can keep us connected when travelling, there is really no substitute for face-to-face communication. Over the course of that month, the DPL team was able to speak with many hundreds of MPS/DPL members from all over the world, lecture to thousands of dentists and other members of the dental team in almost 20 towns and cities, and meet with countless lawyers and barristers that we work with. It was invaluable.
Dentistry - especially in general practice - is unusual within healthcare in that we spend so much of our time with healthy people who have no presenting problems. When problems do arise we try to fix them and in doing so, we are often capitalising upon any previous relationship we have established with the patient or family concerned.
This is exactly what we do when things go wrong, too. Building strong, caring relationships with our patients not only makes good business sense - it also helps to keep us safe. Those of you who have attended our small group workshops Mastering Your Risk and Mastering Adverse Outcomes, will understand the underlying logic and compelling evidence for this.
While in Hong Kong for the FDI, Dental Protection launched the third workshop in this series, Mastering Difficult Interactions to a specially invited international audience that included representatives from SDA. All three workshops are now available free of charge in Singapore to Dental Protection/MPS members, in collaboration with SDA.
This time last year we had felt it necessary to increase subscriptions by an average of 10%, following two years of gradual worsening of our case-related experience in Singapore, mostly in relation to claims.
Unfortunately, the year to date has not reversed that trend and indeed, quite the opposite in terms of actual cases expenditure. Consequently for this and other reasons, we do need a further (but smaller) increase in subscriptions this year for membership renewals in the year commencing 1January 2013. The scale of this increase, however, is only marginally ahead of the prevailing rate of inflation in Singapore so it is more by way of an adjustment than last year’s sharper increase. That increase had itself been the first since 2007, so overall our subscription increases have remained well below the level of inflation when that period is viewed as a whole.
The claims frequency is definitely quite a bit higher now than in the very stable period we enjoyed between 2006 and 2009, but the good news is that it has not climbed any higher than the 2010-2011 experience. The problem of having more cases is quickly compounded if each of those cases has a higher average monetary value. In Singapore we have been spared the kind of blow-out in claims costs that Dental Protection has seen in certain other countries. One possible reason for this is that it is only relatively recently that we have started to see an increase in the number of cases involving cosmetic / aesthetic dentistry and implants.
In Singapore, oral surgery (and as stated above, orthodontics) has always been responsible for a disproportionate share of the cases and this shows no signs of changing any time soon.
It is not impossible that we will continue to see an upward trend in the number and size of cases although hopefully not on a spectacular scale. The dental profession must remain vigilant and take risk management seriously, giving it the attention it deserves amongst all the postgraduate education that encourages more and more dentists to get involved in work of increasing complexity.
See the current rates here