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Numbers Behind the Numbers: Analysis vs. Statistics

By Scott McDonald, Doctor Demographics, LLC

I have always been impressed by how dentists can look at an X-ray and see meaning in such a tiny picture. Experience in diagnosis is invaluable. The same is true for all consultants and counselors to a practice, such as accountants, lawyers and realtors, as well as those giving you market information. The difference is that dentists sometimes assume the meaning of demographics are self-evident, when in fact they are often as difficult to interpret as a radiograph.

For all the quality of their data, many dentists receivedemographic statistics that are correct but then make some silly assumptions about what they should do with them. Professionals who “read” data without having the proper context for it may spend far more money than they should, act out of panic, or invest in “wrong” locations or strategies.

There is a danger to dentists who just order data generated for the area without getting an analysis. Can a layman accurately examine an X-ray? Not likely. In short, the interplay of the various demographic statistics can be lost.And unless you have experience that tells you what the numbers look like next door or in the next county, they won’t have “meaning” in themselves. For example, if I say that an area has 1% annual growth, is that better or worse than any other site? Should that be encouraging or discouraging? And how does that relate to the other data in the report? How is the area growing? What type of growth does...

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