From California, we get a dentist’s perspective on healthcare from Sampada Deshpande. Raised in Dubai, trained in India and living in San Francisco, she joined the Perspectives on Healthcare with Rob Oliver to share her unique viewpoint. She is a practicing dentist, a professor and author. Sampada Deshpande is a Millennial (a member of Generation Y.)
Here are 3 things that stood out as Sampada Deshpande shared a dentist’s perspective on healthcare:
· Dentistry is a combination of healthcare provision and entrepreneurship
· The foundational element of quality healthcare is the ability to access care
· It is important for patients to understand that medical professionals are human and any issues that occur can be worked through to build a stronger relationship
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Here is the transcript of “Sampada Deshpande: A Dentist’s Perspective on Healthcare”:
Rob Oliver: Thank you. And I appreciate you being with me today. My guest today is Sampada Deshpande. She is originally from India. She is now a dentist practicing here in California. In San Francisco. She is a millennial and welcome to the show.
Sampada Deshpande: Hi, Rob. I’m really excited to be here.
Rob Oliver: You bet. I’m excited to have you. I’m curious to get your take both as a dentist, as a California resident and as an international representative as well. So you bring a lot to the table, and I’m eager to hear what you bring. So let’s start there and tell me about yourself and your role in health care, please.
Sampada Deshpande: Yeah. Gladly. Well, I actually grew up in the Middle East. I’m an Indian origin, but I grew up in Muscat and Dubai and lived there up until the age of 15. When I decided to go to dental school, I had to go to India for dental school because at the time, there wasn’t a school in Dubai, which is where I was, and I ended up going to dental school in India. In India, dentistry is a five year program, after which I wanted to continue my education in the United States. I moved here and a couple of years later finished my dental training out in Seattle. Currently, I practice a few days a week in San Francisco, and I also teach at the dental school University of the Pacific, which is here in the city. And any other time that I get, I work on innovative tech products with a company based here in Silicon Valley.
Rob Oliver: Okay. So what drew you to dentistry in the beginning, if you don’t mind.
Sampada Deshpande: Yeah, that’s a great question. And I get asked that quite a bit. When I was in high school, I kind of knew I wanted to be in a service related profession. Growing up, I always felt that a doctor just had so much respect from patients, and they do so much good work for people. I really felt like that would be something I would enjoy. And so on the advice of my school counselor, I had shadowed a couple of different healthcare professionals in Dubai, so one of them was a dentist that was also a physician, a veterinarian, an eye doctor and an OB GYN. And I really enjoyed shadowing my dentist. I ended up going to the same dental school that he went to in India. So it was just a unique coincidence. But, yeah, dentistry is just a very interesting profession because you can combine healthcare, but you can also have your own practice one day. You can also build your own business around it. So that is something that people are interested in dentistry is still a very good profession to be able to combine those interests.
Rob Oliver: Got it. What does quality health care mean to you?
Sampada – Bondy: That’s a great question. Quality healthcare, I think, has two parts to it. One is to be able to choose who you want to see and the other is really having access to care. I think in a lot of different parts of the world, and even in parts of the US, we may have the ability to find a doctor, but find a doctor that is within your insurance network or somebody who is close by, location wise and driving distance. Those things are a bigger concern, and not everyone has an equitable access to care in different parts of the world, and that includes the US.
Rob Oliver: Okay. So you mentioned two parts to it. One was the access to care.
Sampada Deshpande: Yeah. The second part is just knowing and finding which doctor you want to see.
Rob Oliver: Okay. So it’s about choosing which doctor and being able to access the doctor. Okay. Yes. Makes a lot of sense. Can you give me an example of what quality health care would look like?
Sampada Deshpande: Yeah. Quality healthcare in dentistry, for example, would look like if, say, I want to get I’m having pain on Monday morning, I wake up with pain. I should be able to see a dentist pretty much the same day or that week, at least, and not have to worry about how much it’s going to pay, how much it’s going to cost out of pocket. So there should be systems in place that will allow me to get the care I want, while also not creating a problem for my budget or me being in a situation where I would have to go to the emergency room in a hospital, not just be able to pay my bill, but worry about the kind of deal that is going to come out to me, get mailed to me a couple of months later.
Rob Oliver: Okay. So you’re talking about the fact that quality health care means having access in a timely manner and in an affordable manner. Is that summing it upright. Yeah. That summing it upright. Okay. What do you wish that people understood about your role in health care?
Sampada Deshpande: I really like that question, too. I think one thing that I would wish people understood about my role is really that we’re all human beings and that none of us are perfect. And sometimes if there are issues that occur, maybe within dental care or within the kind of service that patients have received, there are always ways to correct those and for us to continue building a relationship despite of those issues and kind of fixing those problems. I think that’s the number one thing. And I mentioned that, particularly because somewhere in healthcare, because we have so many other service providers, it almost feels like the humanity in health care has kind of disappeared. So that is something I want to share. The other thing that I would like to share is that being a healthcare provider in the US has changed drastically than it was in the past. Some of my mentors, who graduated from school 2030 years ago had a much different time practicing dentistry than I have it today because expenses have increased. Dental school tuition, for example, has increased probably four or five times than what it was in the past. And our continuing education. We have a lot of pressure to continue studying and be able to offer more and more services to patients. That, coupled with declining insurance reimbursement, makes it very hard to be a health care provider, so I hope patients appreciate the kind of service you’re able to provide despite of all of these things, because the times have changed and it has become a little bit more challenging to be a health care provider today.
Rob Oliver: Okay. Maybe you can just comment on this. You talked about the pressure that there is to continue your education and to keep up on continuing education credits. I would imagine there are so many pressures that come with that, that’s pressures from your regulating agencies. I’m assuming there is the pressure. When I was growing up, I was told that dentistry was one of the industries with the highest suicide rate because very few people actually enjoy going to the dentist. And there’s that then there is the burnout that comes from being a health care provider. There is the pressure that comes with all of the code regulations, and especially because you’re in such a high contact environment where you’re in people’s literally in people’s mouths and you’re facing their breath and all of the airborne pathogens. Can you talk about all of those pressures and kind of how they impact you as a medical practitioner?
Sampada Deshpande: Yeah, that actually gives me a great opportunity to share some of those things. I remember very vividly about a year and a half ago when I was working, I had to see a chiropractor pretty much on a bi weekly basis, because one of the pressures that we also face is actually because of our positioning. Our Ergonomics happen to be so tricky that most tenants have to often see a chiropractor very frequently and get massages or get their back straight in. That’s very common, and that tends to lead to physical burnout very quickly. So many dentists actually end up being in practice for not more than 30, 35 years, unless they have been very regular with exercising and doing a lot of yoga and staying physically fit. That’s one pressure that we face, the other is just the pressures of being a small business owner. I think sometimes patients forget that we are also small business owners, just like a restaurant, just like a pharmacy, like a local pharmacy or a grocery store. We have to think of all of the little things that go into a small business. So finding employees, which all over the US has been very interesting. Hiring people right now is one of the more challenging things to do. Finding stuff has been challenging. So not only do we have to hire people, but you have to pay everyone on time and still provide high quality services. Some of the dental equipment and technology that we use is quite costly. So to really balance that out and still provide patients with an amazing experience and have enough income to support our family back home is also a big pressure. Coupled with that, I think one of the biggest pressures that most of my colleagues face right now most millennials face is that they’re graduating out of school with huge student loans. Some of my colleagues graduated from private schools and some of them specialize, and they have loans upwards of $500-$600,000. That’s a lot, especially if you are in your early 30s and you’re wanting to start a family or buy a house. All of those things are big ticket expenses. And if that pressures in your mind with those loans kind of on your back, it just makes life a little bit harder. But I think amongst all of these things to remember is if you really enjoy dentistry and you enjoy the camaraderie that comes along with it and taking care of people, there’s a lot of value that this profession can still provide to people. I mean, I chose it twice. Technically, I went for it in India, and then I did my training again in the US, so I’m very happy with it. And the other thing is to also just build good financial, know how and learn how to manage our finances, even as healthcare providers. That is such an important thing, because we don’t really learn that in school, it’s something we have to kind of learn by ourselves. So if there was a way in which maybe medical and dental schools, they could teach us how to invest our money or manage our budget, it would be a huge benefit to students. But yeah, those are kind of some of the pressures that we face in our career.
Rob Oliver: Yeah, I’m interested to hear what you said there for a couple of reasons. Number one, the financial side of it. I have another podcast called Learning From Smart People, that’s for entrepreneurs. And it really talks about the fact that a lot of times the passion. The reason why you started your small business is so unrelated to the technical know how of actually running a business, why you do this? And this is actually what leads to my next point. I had the privilege of talking to a group of nurse practitioners students a couple of weeks ago, and one of the exercises that I gave them was to go and to write down why they’re doing this, what drew them to it. And so in a couple of years, when they are feeling burnout, when they’re feeling those things, they can go back and revisit the why of what they’re doing. Lastly, I’ll just say you mentioned about technology and you mentioned about things that are changing. So let’s talk about the future. What excites you about the future of healthcare?
Sampada Deshpande: A lot of things. I feel like a lot of things are changing. And maybe I say this because I’m based out in the Silicon Valley, but I really feel like technology can solve a lot of our problems. For example, a common kind of aspect between dentists and physicians or pharmacists is that we are often paid by insurance companies on the back end, so we usually take care of patients, and then we submit a claim to the insurance company, and then insurances will pay us for maybe 30 days or something like that. So you’re often waiting. You have a pretty big account receivable, right? Which you’re kind of tagging behind. And I really think instead of having people come through that accounts receivable and make sure all the claims have been submitted correctly and check if we have been paid on time. There’s probably a way that technology can solve that problem if things could be automated. And if there’s like, a stock by companies that can completely automate that instead of people having to do that, and it’s such a time consuming thing. And I feel there’s so much more value that people can provide rather than having someone do that, which is kind of boring and time consuming. So I feel like technology can really help make practices run smarter, run Leno, and be more efficient. And then doctors can really focus on providing better can instead of worrying about the business side.
Rob Oliver: Yeah, it’s funny that you say that because this is completely a theory on my part, and it’s based only on my own experiences. I sometimes wonder if insurance companies don’t actually have an algorithm in place that just automatically kicks out 20% of all of the claims that come in, not because they’re filed incorrectly, but just because they do and they want to see if maybe it will not be resubmitted or whatever the situation is. That’s just a theory on my part. And it is said tongue in cheek. So the insurance people don’t get mad at me. I think that you do your job as well as you can, and you’re trying to make the best use of the resources that you have. Last question for you. What’s one thing medical professionals can start doing today to increase the quality of health care?
Sampada Deshpande: I think one thing that they can start doing today is actually really reflecting on their journey and taking care of themselves. I think that’s super important because all of my friends in the medical field and in the dental field have faced a tremendous amount of pressure last year, and this year because of the pandemic, many of them had to stay away from their families. We were all waiting for the vaccine. He had to just kind of stay quarantined, and that has added to so much emotional stress and so much pressure. And many of us had to work very hard, work long hours at the hospital and see patients who are in need. So really taking the time to take care of yourself, whatever it might be, whether it’s taking a couple of days off and just reading a book or doing something that really just helps you stay in tune with your mind. I think that is something all medical professionals can do, whether they are students or they’re practicing. Just take some time and take care of yourself first.
Rob Oliver: Yeah, it is such good advice. It’s good advice for those in the medical field as well as all of us. We all need to stop and take a little bit of self care because you can’t take care of others if you’re not taking care of yourself. Listen, thank you so much for being here. You’ve also written a book that is for dentists that are trained outside of the US. I will put a link to that in the show notes for anyone who’s interested in doing that. I appreciate you being here and I appreciate you sharing your perspective on healthcare.
Disclaimer: All opinions expressed by guests on the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast are solely the opinion of the guest. They are not to be misconstrued as medical diagnoses or medical advice. Please consult with a licensed medical professional before attempting any of the treatments suggested.