The Ethics of Dental Supply Purchasing: Perception is Everything

June 23, 2021

Employers want to rest assured that their employees act in a manner that strives for the best possible outcome for their dental practice. Even the appearance of inappropriate behaviors can harm your business’s reputation, limit your ability to create a competitive environment, and lessen the efficacy of your dental supply inventory management and purchasing practices.

Suppliers want to know they are playing on an even playing field and aren’t wasting their time and energy on unattainable business. Establishing ethical procurement standards aligns your team on values and expectations, ensures your employees’ procure with integrity and keeps your organization’s industry reputation intact.

As your employees may not be trained or educated in procurement, to avoid the grey areas, it’s important to ensure a basic understanding of the principles and ethics of dental procurement. For multi-location DSOs, you may want to consider a more formal code of conduct for your employees to agree to and abide by.

Here are the basics.

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ethics in dental procurement

Preventing Unethical Behavior in a Dental Office

The appearance of compromising behaviors or unethical conduct can be just as harmful as inappropriate behavior. Employees must avoid behaviors that may be interpreted as unethical by acting with transparency, honesty, and fair-mindedness.

Ensure to remain professional in all communications. Although you want to nurture the supplier relationship and perhaps widen the conversation’s scope to personal matters, you want to avoid crossing the line with the excessive discussion of personal matters.

To alleviate any possible misperceptions, if the potential for impropriety presents itself (say a supplier offers you a bribe to buy from him), make sure to bring this up to management. Such actions from vendors should be dealt with swiftly to ensure further propagation of unethical tactics by vendors.

Avoid Conflicts of Interest When Purchasing Dental Supplies

Those in charge of purchasing decisions must ensure not to use their authority for their personal benefit or that of others such as family, friends, or other relationships personal or professional. All actions and decisions in and out of the office must not conflict with the employer’s best interests.

Again, perception is everything, so avoiding the perception of conflicts is important. Make sure to discuss any actual or potential conflicts with your superiors. If you are uncomfortable or unsure of how to deal with a situation, refer to management for guidance or resolution.

If either you or a family member has any secondary employment, businesses, or investments that may have a potential conflict, ensure to advise your employer. Do not engage in any inappropriate personal business.

Maintain Objectivity in Dental Purchasing Decisions

To remain attractive to vendors and garner their attention and best prices, it’s crucial to maintain a reputation of objective and fair decision-making free of influences from unfair gameplay. Objectivity is also key for employees to ensure they are always making the calls for your company.

Therefore, any person with possible or perceived influence must avoid any actions that may hinder or diminish objectivity, such as accepting or requesting gifts, gratuities, or entertainment. You may want to set an official policy, taking into consideration the frequency, impact, and objective of any gifts. For instance, a holiday gift basket for the office may be deemed acceptable, but concert or sports tickets are not.

However, even without an official policy, employees should always use good judgment, and when in doubt, communicate openly and freely with management and request clarification on acceptability. Remember always to ask yourself if your actions are in your employer’s best interest and how others will perceive them.

In tough times, when every penny counts and you’re fighting to remain profitable or maintain your pace of growth, it’s easy to be short-sighted. However, losing sight of the bigger picture risks your long term viability. The setting, communicating, and holding of a standard of ethics lays a solid foundation for maintaining positive and effective supplier relationships and maximizes your rewards.

Of course, not everything is so black and white, and there are a lot more “do’s” and “don’ts” to supplier relationship management that you may want to impart to your people. For a complete list of procurement ethics, see ISM’s Principles and Standards of Ethical Supply Management Conduct with Guidelines.

Lean on Method for Your Dental Procurement Solution

Our tools make it easy for you to manage your dental purchasing processes and prevent unethical behavior in your practice. For more information, reach out to us to schedule a demo to see how Method can drastically improve the efficiency of your dental practice without sacrificing proper controls!

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