16 May 2022  •  Blog, Future of Dentistry  •  7min read By  • Chris Barrow

Top 10 trends in dentistry to emerge from the pandemic

Every cloud has a silver lining and Business Coach, Chris Barrow, lists his ‘hit parade’ of the top 10 great things that have come out of the pandemic.

Here’s my list, in reverse order from 10 down to number one of the great things that have emerged over the last couple of years.

Number 10 is that out of the pandemic, we’re seeing more people investing in themselves to become great bosses so they can create environments in which they’ve got great teams of people around them.

Number ninethe salaried dentist

We’re starting to see the emergence of salaried contracts for young dentists who are one or two years out of foundation training. These young dentists work four days a week in their own surgery, and then one day a week in the principal surgery. They shadow the principal, watching them work clinically, but more importantly, listening to them talk to the patients and understanding the way they communicate with those patients. Good communication is so important.

Number eight – better able practice managers and self-managing dental teams

Some practice managers are beginning to operate at what I would describe as MBA standard. They understand finance, marketing, customer service and the patient experience. They can handle compliance as well, and they understand leadership and management so they’re able to run the teams that report to them.

I’ve got every confidence that the world of the practice manager, or business manager, is growing. I’ve got some clients who own dental practices, and who don’t want to sell the practice to a corporate and do a five year earn out. What they want to do is to keep ownership of the practice but delegate the management of it to a brilliant practice manager and a management team. So, I’m seeing self-managing dental teams where the owner can step back from the day-to-day management of the business and , sometimes reduce the number of clinical days they’re working.

Number seven – the associate-led dental business

I have clients who are clinician owners who are giving up clinical dentistry to run their own business.  They’re going from five, to four, three, two, one, zero days of dentistry. And in doing that, they are focussing on building a team of associates, therapists and hygienists who can deliver 100% of the dentistry that’s being delivered in the practice.

All of this stuff is scary, but I am working with clients who have made that transition; dentists who have given up dentistry to run their own business and build their associate teams and it’s working really, really well. It can be done.

Number six – the role of the dental therapist

It’s a massive opportunity. The thing that amazes me is the number of times I’ll be with clients, and I’ll say, are you familiar with the GDC Scope of Practice for dental therapists? And you know what? They haven’t read it. And because they haven’t read it, they haven’t realised the absolutely mission critically positive role that a competent dental therapist can have in the delivery of their preventative maintenance programme.

Number five – Google reviews

In the war between Google reviews and Facebook reviews, Google has won. Facebook reviews are the modern-day equivalent of the Betamax video, they’ve just lost. Google reviews are in the ascendent, and the collection of Google reviews has become a mission critical marketing activity. However, there is a benchmark for Google reviews. You need at least 100 reviews for Google’s algorithms to even notice you. I am still astonished when I am on workshops and webinars and I go around the room and I ask, how many reviews have you got? The answers I get are Five, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50. And it should be 100, 200, 300, 400, 500.

Why? Because number one, that will improve your search engine optimisation without having to pay an agency to do it. Number two, because Google loves those reviews, and it sees you as being an influencer. Number three, most importantly of all, patients read them. We read reviews for everything. We’ve been taught to read reviews for all of our consumer decisions. So, there’s no reason why that shouldn’t extend into dentistry. Practices need to be on a massive mission to get those Google reviews.

Number fourcompulsory dental plans

Some dentists say ‘Private dentistry won’t work in my area’.

I’ve worked in every post code in the United Kingdom, and they all tell me they’re special, or you can’t do that in Bolton, and you can’t do that in the Valleys, and you can’t do that in Aberdeen. I’ve been everywhere and they’ve all told me they’re special. And you know what? They’re not. You’ve got a Costa, you’ve got a McDonald’s, you’ve got a Tesco, you’ve got an Aldi or a Lidl, we are all the same.

Practices need to embrace the possibility of introducing a compulsory dental plan for anybody who wants to be seen. I’ve got clients who are doing it. And the reason they’re doing it is because they know that the consumers are sat watching the telly and all that they’re getting is questions in parliament about lack of access to NHS dentistry. They’re getting it in the Daily Mail, online, on Sky News. They’re getting it everywhere they look. And the mantra is you can’t get to see a dentist. So, if you do want to see a dentist, we’d like to invite you to become a member of our plan, because we are a plan-based practice. Believe me, it can be done.

Number three – the digital patient journey

This starts with the preclinical video assessment using either Zoom or FaceTime or a proprietary platform like SmileMate. This is followed by intraoral scanning. Next, we have digital radiography. Then there’s extra oral photography; intraoral photography; digital smile design; PowerPoint or Keynote slide deck treatment plans; video voiceover treatment plans using a little Chrome add-on called Loom; video-based treatment monitoring and finally end of treatment photography and videography for testimonial purposes.

Number two – the treatment coordinator

Bring treatment coordinators into your practice. Your turnover and profits will go up 30%. End of discussion. And it makes a massive difference to the practices I work with.

I don’t train treatment coordinators or run a TCO programme. I pass all my leads to Laura Horton because she’s best of breed.

Number one and the winner of the Chris Barrow top 10 hit parade of great ideas in dentistry at the moment is: the intraoral scanner

We’ve got a very simple mantra across my client base which is: scan every patient, every visit. In the practice I attend as a patient, every time I go and see my dental therapist for my six-monthly, my teeth are scanned, and those scans are compared so I can see progress or regression over time.

When I sit down with my dentist and we discuss treatment, my teeth are scanned, and I absolutely love it. More importantly than what I love is the fact that the clients that I’m working with, who are embracing the use of the intraoral scanner in the patient journey, are practices whose new business figures are at record highs. And the reason for that is because the return on investment from it justifies the expense. So you need to get trained up.

The past two years have been tough, but, despite this, there have still been some great developments we can celebrate and adopt.

If you’d like to watch the webinar where Chris outlined his Top 10 you can do so here.

About Chris

Chris has been a has been a trainer, consultant, coach, and mentor to the UK dental profession for 26 years.

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