“I soon realised that those who chose not to sign up were being guided purely by what they perceived as being the cheaper option; they didn’t really care which dentist treated them, only that they remained ‘on the NHS’. Those who did choose Denplan did so out of loyalty to me personally, because they valued me as their dentist and because they saw the benefit in me being able to invest more time and money to offer them the best care. Fortunately, they were in the majority, and anyway it suited me to have a slightly smaller patient list so I could address what had become a difficult work/life balance. The regular income I’d be getting would compensate for the small reduction in numbers and I’d have more time to spend with each patient so the job satisfaction would inevitably improve too.”
While Adam’s long-term goal was for the practice to become completely private, he didn’t want to force this on his associate dentists or on his patients. A softer, more gradual approach felt more appropriate and would give everyone time to get used to the concept and the operational changes. However, within 12 months, the first of three associates decided to join him in converting her patient list to private fee-per-item or Denplan. She followed the same methodology, explaining the proposed changes and the benefits of Denplan monthly payment plans in person and offering plenty of time for patients to decide whether to accept or not.
By 2019, the whole practice was ready to take the final step to completely private dentistry. Any patients who still wanted to remain with an NHS dentist were directed to the NHS Choices website to find an alternative practice. Denplan provided support in the form of the largest ever mailing on behalf of a single practice, sending out over 8,000 letters to patients. Frances Lynch was on hand at all times to help resolve patients’ queries and to prepare the whole dental team by providing comprehensive training on Denplan products and services.
“We did encounter some initial resistance from a couple of members of staff,” admits Adam. “The NHS is very dear to people’s hearts as a principle and it can be hard to accept that in dentistry it may not always be the best option for patients. Denplan’s all-day training really helped to showcase the benefits and once the conversions began, everyone got on board with it and we really haven’t looked back since. Denplan now represents around 30% of our turnover and it’s increasing all the time.”
From a personal perspective, Adam has been hugely inspired by the opportunities that becoming a Denplan practice has opened up to him and his colleagues. “The security that a regular monthly income has brought has enabled us to invest in great new technology, including an intra-oral scanner, as well as specialist orthodontics and endodontics. It feels much closer to the Swiss practice model I had in mind for quality of care, though significantly less expensive for patients. It’s made our professional lives much more interesting and satisfying as we’re all continually extending our learning. There’s a perception among young dentists that they may not be experienced enough to charge private fees. This is wrong, of course – it’s nothing to do with experience, only about how you get paid. I now realise that in private dentistry you get to carry out more complex treatments, with as much time as you need, so you can become a better practitioner sooner.”