As many of you know, we survey our member dentists following every ODA event (Annual Session, Leadership Institute, etc.) and about every product or service we provide to our members. We do this to ensure our events, products and services are meeting the needs and expectations of our member dentists.

In addition to these targeted surveys, we also commission an independent survey research firm to conduct a broad, comprehensive survey of the entire ODA membership periodically. We did such surveys in 1988, 1991, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2007, 2012, 2018 and again in 2023. While the surveys have changed and expanded over the years, the results give us valuable information and in many areas give us a look at trends as we compare to previous surveys.

The survey asks questions about ODA’s priorities and various programs, including Annual Session, Leadership Institute, advocacy efforts, communications, insurance products, etc. The survey also asks respondents to rate the ODA’s performance in various areas and about the value of membership. Finally, the survey gathers information on membership demographics and specifics about respondents’ dental practices, including use of technology, acceptance of various dental benefit programs and income.

The results of the 2023 survey are now in and they are overwhelmingly positive as they relate to the ODA’s overall performance. In fact, in many of our priority areas, member satisfaction rates are in the 90+% range. These survey results provide a great deal of information for ODA leaders to consider as we continue to try to make the ODA as responsive to our member dentists’ needs as possible.

Members’ Priorities and Satisfaction

Lobbying, providing practice-related information, and monitoring the dental insurance industry continue to be the ODA’s highest priorities in the membership’s eyes. And the satisfaction rate for these areas continues to be very high.

  • A total of 94% of the respondents are “very satisfied” (57%) or “somewhat satisfied” (37%) with the ODA’s efforts in “providing members with information about issues affecting the practice of dentistry.”
  • A total of 87% of the respondents report being “very satisfied” (52%) or “somewhat satisfied” (35%) with the ODA’s efforts related to “lobbying on behalf of the dental profession.”
  • A total of 74% of the respondents report being “very satisfied” (35%) or “somewhat satisfied” (39%) with the ODA’s efforts in “monitoring the dental insurance industry and advocating for dental insurance benefits.”

The trend lines from the survey results show that the ODA’s performance has improved over time. For example, in 2002, only 24% of respondents said they were “very satisfied” with ODA’s efforts related to lobbying on behalf of the dental profession, but that number has risen significantly since then. In 2023, 52% of respondents reported being “very satisfied” with ODA’s lobbying efforts.

ODA Annual Session

The survey results include valuable information on the ODA Annual Session as well. Attendees of Annual Session continue to rate the event well with 26% giving it an “outstanding” rating and 52% saying it is “very good.” Those who regularly attend the ODA Annual Session already know that we do an excellent job in gathering information and feedback from attendees, but this membership survey allows us to gather information from those members who did not attend Annual Session, including their recommendations for continuing education topics, pricing, exhibit preferences, etc. All of this information will be valuable for the Annual Session Committee as they work to find innovative ways to attract new attendees while continuing to meet the needs of existing attendees.

ODA Staff and Communications

The survey also gathered a great deal of information related to our communications with member dentists. I am most proud of the member satisfaction rate related to interacting with ODA staff members. We take pride in being able to help members with any questions they might have regarding a plethora of matters, including risk management, legal and regulatory compliance, and third-party payer issues. We are blessed to have a staff at the ODA that is knowledgeable, dependable and respectful. The survey results confirm this.

Most members report having some interaction with ODA staff in the last year. Of those who have called, written or emailed ODA staff, 94% report being satisfied (80% very satisfied and 14% somewhat satisfied) with their most recent contact with ODA staff. ODA staff rate incredibly high on being courteous/respectful (99%), helpful (99%), knowledgeable (98%), easy to reach (96%) and in keeping the membership well informed (95%).

As far as ODA’s primary communication tools, members report finding great value in receiving both our printed and electronic publications. Eighty-nine percent of ODA members said they find value in receiving the printed “ODA Today” publication, and 80% of members report finding value in receiving the ODA’s electronic publication “NewsBites” via email. Ninety percent of ODA members said that emails they receive from the ODA “provide valuable information.”

Products and Services

The survey also gathers valuable feedback on how members feel about various ODA-endorsed products and services. Obviously, this information will be useful to the relevant departments and councils/committees as they seek to improve the members’ experience.

For example, of those members who have Medical Protective for their professional liability insurance through the ODA, 91% report being satisfied. For the ODA’s endorsed Workers Compensation group rating program (Sedgewick), the satisfaction rate is 90%. For those who secure their health insurance though the ODA Wellness Trust, the satisfaction rate is 70%.

Value of Membership

When asked about the value of membership in the ODA, 35% reported the ODA was an “excellent” value and 43% rated ODA membership as a “good” value. Ninety percent of respondents said the ODA was “moving in the right direction.”

Dental Practice Trends

The survey also collects interesting data related to membership and dental practice trends in Ohio.

The percentage of sole proprietorships is shrinking while the percentage of employee dentists is growing within the membership. This reflects current trends in dental practices as consolidation continues to accelerate and group practices continue to grow in popularity.

Nearly half of the respondents said the number of patients they are seeing is increasing while 42% say it is “holding steady.” The survey confirms what we all know regarding difficulty in hiring staff. Sixty-five percent of respondents report difficulty in hiring both dental hygienists and dental assistants. The ODA will continue to push strategies that increase the pipeline of dental hygienists and dental assistants to address this issue.

Only 18% of respondents report accepting Medicaid patients, which is down from 22% in 2018, and the lowest percentage recorded since we started asking the question in 1994. Eighty percent of those who refuse to participate in Medicaid or Medicaid Managed Care cite “low reimbursements” as the main reason. Interestingly, because of the ODA’s advocacy in recent years, the state has raised dental Medicaid reimbursements by more than 90% on average in 2024. It will be interesting to see if this has an impact on dentists’ participation in Medicaid.

The vast majority of members (63%) report providing volunteer care to the needy and at substantial levels, with the average annual dollar value of donated care at more than $19,000. This confirms what we already know: dentistry is a giving and compassionate profession.

Dentists’ personal income generally rose from 2018 to 2023. For example, the percentage of respondents reporting personal income of more than $200,000 rose from 54% in 2018 to 59% in 2023.

Using Survey Information to Benefit ODA Members

The survey also provides other useful information such as continuing education subject preferences, usage of technology, suggestions for future programming, etc. This information is used by the ODA to better meet the needs of its members.

For example, in 2018, the survey asked if members would be interested in the ODA putting together a group purchasing program for dental supplies. Seventy-five percent of respondents reported they would be interested in participating if the ODA began a group buying program. In response, the Ohio Dental Association Services Corporation created Ohio Discount Dental Supplies (OhioDDS) – a group purchasing organization that allows ODA members to secure discount pricing on dental supplies. In the 2023 survey, the members who purchased supplies through OhioDDS reported a 79% satisfaction rate, which is truly impressive for such a new program.

The 2023 survey data has been compiled for study by ODA staff and councils and committees so that they can utilize the information to better meet the members’ needs, expectations and desires going forward. So, thanks to each of you who filled out the survey. We are putting it to good use for your benefit!