Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Value of a Second Opinion to a Dentist

Here is another thoughtful blog from our esteemed client Dr. Don Lurie.

It seems to me that every health care professional sometimes needs to take the same advice that he gives to his patients.  "I suggest that we get a second opinion on this…"

I have written many articles regarding the beginning of our practices and continuing to retirement.  As I have said, (The Profession of Retirement, May, 2013) the new career of retirement requires planning and thought including the obvious financial requirements  and also the emotional preparation (Emotional Preparation for Retirement, March 21, 2014).  I strongly believe that preparing for retirement should start with the onset of our practices and that careful management by the proper team of advisors is essential to accomplish this.  Like with most things, we get into a routine and things just continue to function and run - timely donations to retirement funds, investments, insurance, etc... 

However, I made the mistake and took it all for granted.  Things and circumstances do change.  Health can be a factor in your planning (or lack of same), personal goals, motivations, insurance needs and many other components that combine to make our new career of retirement frightening and foreboding.  It is my hope that you can learn from my mistakes and make this transition so more calming and smooth.  I think the key word here is "transition". 

About 10 years before I retired (after 50 years), my "CEO" who really was my accountant (and the head of the Team of Retirement, August, 2013), suggested that we examine several areas of my life and practice.  He also suggested that we get a second opinion on various subjects that incorporate the business of dentistry and oral surgery.  Did we have an accurate appraisal of the worth of the practice or were we hiding our head in the sand? Do we still need to continue large amounts of life insurance or can we scale back as the age increases and other investments take over? Do we have a team in place to advise us on how to Transition the practice, think about buyers, target the buyers, bring in an associate/buyer etc? Are the investments good for the short term (while in practice) or do we need to start looking for a different quality of investment or moderate style of investment for those retirement years so that there can be some inner peace without the volatility of "the gamble"? I thought that my accountant was really so wise to suggest second opinions and it proved to me that he was the correct person for the job of CEO by being unafraid to show and share our information to an unbiased group of advisors.  It is with this vision that I was able to make even better decisions, long before retirement, to make this retirement career seamless as the time approached.  Of course, the first 6 months were an adjustment but I was ready for them.  And after that period, my life has taken on a new purpose and joy that I could only hope would be the case for everyone.   Another big area that needed a second opinion was the role of the corporate attorney.  Were our documents in order? So a review of the articles of incorporation was carried out at that time.  This also helped me in finding the attorney that I thought would be the right person at the time of transition.  This was invaluable and helped to keep that stomach-ache at a minimum.  It was just one worry that was eliminated knowing that there was the right person to turn to at the given time. Another area in transition to be considered is insurance.  Do you have the right kind of life insurance, enough or too much, malpractice insurance (enough or too much), real estate insurance if it applies and are there other insurances that your situation requires? What about HIPPA? Do you have the right IT person to help you to transition? Does he need to install systems at home to help in the transition? The list of questions goes on. 

I always made it a rule when I was in active practice, that I would not be the treating surgeon after I gave a second opinion.  I made this clear to the patient initially and reinforced it.  This gave me clearance to be more objective and to sincerely want to help both the treating doctor and the patient in solving the problem or conflict.  I followed this rule when I receive my second opinion from the outside group of advisors.  They were helpful and, more importantly, reinforced my admiration for my lead accountant.  Both groups agreed that I needed a specialist in practice transition to get to where I needed to go. 

The detail of this team was amazing including instructions to staff on what to say to the patients, how to explain what was going on, where charts would be available, etc.  Actually scripts were written so that there would be consistency among the staff when answering questions.  I cannot emphasize enough the value of scripts.  They should be used throughout your entire career

So I would urge you to reevaluate your situation, get that second opinion and move on, either with your original team or perhaps with the new advisors.  It may be an amazing discovery.  The goal is to make this as smooth a process as possible but you too must have an open mind and be clear about your goals.  They should be written down. Keeping a journal is a valuable tool.  Remember, "You cannot live a positive life with a negative mind."

The Team of Retirement for me was key.  Outside advisors and specialists were brought in at various stages of my career and for their efforts, I am eternally grateful.

These are just some thoughts that were on my mind regarding practice transitions and the possibility of a need for second opinion.  We are all here to help one another.  Please do not hesitate to send me you thoughts and questions.  It would be an honor to help.

More Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned next time.

Dr. Donald B. Lurie
email:  donald.lurie@att.net
Phone:     717-235-0764

Cell:         410-218-2228

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