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Thinking of taking the plunge into Private Practice?

Andy Sloan, Director of Henry Schein Business Solutions UK & Europe, offers some words of reassurance to dentists considering the move to private practice.

It’s a new year but some things never change, and as January rolls round again, the perennial question of the dental contract can’t be far from any dentist’s thoughts. Whether 2017 will be the year in which some clarity is brought to this topic remains to be seen, but what is certain is that the longer the procrastination continues, the louder the voice inside many dentists’ heads, calling for transparency and a stable environment in which to develop their business.

Obviously the financial implication of such a move is a major consideration, but other factors must also be taken into account and though often the grass may seem greener on the private side of the fence, most dentists still need a little reassurance before leaving the comfort and security of the NHS.

Questions to consider

The decision to convert is normally taken against a background of dissatisfaction with the NHS or in the hope that moving to the private sector will result in improvements to life, business, income or preferably all three.

But many dentists enthusiastically embark on their new venture without giving due consideration as to how they will juggle their debtors and creditors or attract new patients and stop attrition of their existing database. Unfortunately for some, it doesn’t take much for the pendulum to swing in the wrong direction. So any dentist considering a move to the private sector must consider some basic questions. Below are some of the areas I encourage practitioners to consider:

  • How many patients do I need to attract privately to achieve my desired income?
  • Do I have the capacity / facilities to accommodate this level?
  • What will my pricing policy be?
  • How should I communicate the change to my existing patients?
  • How can I attract new patients?
  • How do I make my patients feel valued post conversion?
  • How will I market my services and treatments and which marketing methods are most effective?
  • Can I introduce new technology that will make my practice not only more attractive to potential patients but also run more efficiently?
  • Do I need to refurbish my practice?

Making dentistry attractive

We know that many practices, of all persuasions, continue to experience a downturn in attendance for routine appointments and a reduction in the take-up of treatment plans. Providing a solution for patients in this area can be of real value and offering interest free finance is one way of taking the ‘affordability factor’ out of the patient’s decision making process.

It’s clear that revenue is only one side of the profit and loss scale and as business owners, dentists need to be aware of the importance of cost control. Reducing fees on overheads such as surgical waste disposable, or bank and credit card charges will have a positive effect on your cash flow and bottom line profit.

Knowing your numbers

The importance of understanding practice performance data is crucial regardless of the sector within which you operate. Seeking help to understand your data and identify where improvements can be made will boost your practice’s efficiency. Henry Schein Business Solutions features a team of experienced consultants who will conduct an evidence-based analysis of your data and provide the information necessary to help you make informed decisions about the future direction of your practice.

New technology

Whether as a private practice your need for new technology is greater than in the NHS is an individual consideration and will be largely determined by the type of practice you intend to run, the treatments you most want to deliver and the sort of patients you want to attract. That said, there is growing acceptance that digital x-rays, chairside scanning and design and in-practice milling is all helping to project a new image for dentistry and one that readily appeals to a private market that values time above cost. In addition, the advanced technology now available is making a significant difference to the speed and efficiency with which patients can be treated and an efficient practice is a profitable practice, whether in the NHS or private sector.

So for anyone teetering on the edge of the decision of whether to convert some or all of your practice, let me offer some words of reassurance. There are numerous options and hundreds of questions to answer before a firm decision to convert to private practice can be taken, and in my experience having a friendly, dependable source of knowledge to help you is invaluable. Having this support from a team whose expertise touches every element of practice life means you can be sure of getting a holistic and integrated approach. This ‘joined up’ thinking brings with it trust and reliability that provides reassurance for dentists taking this step and we provide a variety of services designed to help practices maximise their business opportunities. Executed in the right way a move to the private sector enables a practice to control all elements of its service provision, attracting and retaining patients and building levels of satisfaction that will provide a strong foundation on which to build substantial future growth.

If you’re considering the move to private practice call the Henry Schein Business Solutions team on 0800 023 2558 or visit www.hsbusinesssolutions.co.uk and find out how to make the most of private practice.

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