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Make 2019 your most successful year yet


  Posted by: The Probe      4th January 2019

Fiona Bousfield explores what can be done to make the most of the forthcoming new year, to benefit your business, dental team and patients throughout 2019.

Here comes 2019, bringing thoughts of Brexit, a new Royal baby and the final series of Game of Thrones. But what about the dental practice? In an ideal world, what would 2019 offer you, your team and your patients? And how can you make it happen?

I would suggest that the first step is to look back on 2018, to consider the highs and the lows and everything inbetween. Get your team involved, as others can offer valuable perspectives. When you know what you are doing well, and where there are shortcomings, you can begin to make constructive plans for a great new year.

Here are some areas that might benefit from your attention before the clock strikes midnight on the 31st December…

Follow your patients’ journey

Put yourself in your patients’ shoes. What’s it like to call up to ask for information, or simply to make an appointment? How would you feel sitting in the waiting room as it looks now? What tools do you use to help convey oral health and treatment messages effectively? There are, of course, many aspects to each patient’s journey and there are myriad things to consider but such questions offer a starting point.

Answering these questions truthfully will offer insight into what challenges may need to be overcome to provide the best possible experience for patients. It may be as simple as a lick of paint for the entry way or a need to send the team on a course to acquire better communication skills.

Update the practice’s policies

Part of the patient journey also involves the kinds of policies and procedures you have in place. This can range from how you handle any complaints to who oversees infection control in the practice. Remaining on top of these issues is imperative, as you know, if you are to meet regulatory requirements laid out by the likes of the GDC and CQC.

As such, I would recommend reviewing your guiding principles, to ensure not only that you meet the standards required of you as, of course, things change over time, but also whether there is value in self-directed change, for example getting ahead of the game with an amalgam phase-out. Again, making this a team effort will bear fruit.

Value your marketing efforts

Marketing is key to success; if no-one knows what you offer, how are you going to get new patients through the door or existing patients asking about what else you can do for them?

Google your practice. If you find nothing, then as far as the modern world is concerned, you don’t exist. If you find something bad, you need to put a plan in place to control negative publicity and counteract it. If you find a link to your web page, then you’re on track for the next stage in your marketing review process.

Look at your marketing efforts as a whole. Does the branding reflect the message you want to put out to the world? Is it interesting and easy to understand? And, perhaps most importantly of all, does it encourage the reader to call the practice to find out more? If not, it’s time to make a change.

Consider payment options

For many in the dental team, asking for payment is a tricky part of their job but clearly is essential if the practice is going to flourish. There is much to be said for training in this area and role-playing what to do when faced with challenging patients but there is also another option – patient plans.

Patient plans offer a simple and cost- effective way for patients to pay for their dentistry via a monthly Direct Debit system. However, which plan provider to choose and considering what to offer patients is

often the more complicated bit. Some providers offer added ‘frills’ that you might not want or need – even the one you are signed up to now!

When considering which provider to work with, it’s important to fully understand all applicable charges down to the penny – as they say, look after the pennies and the pounds look after themselves. Some provider charges can add up to a significant practice overhead over time and as your plan base grows. Lower cost, long- established and trusted providers such as Patient Plan Direct may be able to provide you with more value.

You’ll also need to ensure that you’re going to receive the appropriate training, support, promotional material and reporting for your plan to be geared up to succeed. Finally, ask yourself whether you want to grow and strengthen your own brand or push a third-party brand. If it’s the former, make sure that your provider can offer you a plan that is personalised to your practice.

If you are looking to make 2019 your best yet, at the same time as simplifying your practice life and would like to find out how Patient Plan Direct can help, please call 0344 848 6888. Whether you’re looking to launch a plan or switch provider, with admin fees from just £1 per patient per month (including IDD-compliant Worldwide Dental A&E cover), it couldn’t be easier.

About the author

Fiona Bousfield is the Head of Marketing & Communications at Patient Plan Direct.

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