Your Questions Answered
Our team of experts have come together to give you the answers to some of the key questions you should consider when thinking about a move from the NHS.
The members of our NHS Change Support Team understand that contemplating a move from NHS dentistry can be overwhelming, especially if you don't have the right support to guide you through the key questions you should be thinking about.
So, here are some of those questions, and answers, to help get you on the right track and, ultimately, make a balanced decision about your future.
If you have any other queries or would like to chat about your individual circumstances, please get in touch - one of our team would be more than happy to help.
Find out more about our NHS Change Support Team here.
For the majority of practices, the answer is ‘not as many as you think’. Of course, the final number will be greatly influenced by your future financial aspirations (including your pension provision). However, private dentistry invariably leads to a higher average patient value, which means you can usually afford to take a (sometimes sizeable) reduction in your patient base and still have a profitable and sustainable business.
The first thing to do is analyse your current position, then produce a set of future projections to illustrate what’s needed to make a successful move to private dentistry. By doing this you'll be able to make your decision based on solid information.
Answered by: Josie Hutchings, Regional Support Manager
Your team will be a major factor influencing the success of your conversion to private practice, so it’s important to invest the time in ensuring the team feels comfortable with the reasons for the change and confident about handling questions from patients. Hesitant or inconsistent answers can undermine your patients’ trust, whilst clear, positive responses will help enormously.
Answered by: Michelle Hardy, Team Development
A carefully worded and personalised letter will help introduce the change. However, this should always be backed up by a face-to-face conversation so you can address your patients’ questions or concerns and reassure them of the benefits the change will bring.
Of course, your team will have a vital role to play in communicating the change to patients, so training is essential to ensure everyone understands the key messages and is able to communicate them clearly and consistently.
Answered by: Les Jones, Marketing and Branding.
Before setting any fees, you need to carry out a full financial review to ensure you are covering all your costs and income expectations. From this you can start to form an idea of how many patients you will need on plan and develop a fee rate that is competitive in your area, protects your hourly rate and suits your patients.
We do recommend that you seek the support of experts when carrying out your financial review as things like pension provision will also need to be taken into account.
Answered by: Suki Singh, Regional Support Manager.
Yes! Alongside tailoring a plan to you, we can help you develop a communications plan that suits you and your patients. We can mail all your patients (on your headed paper) to tell them about your plan or we can help you find the best way to promote the plan to your patients when they come through the door. We will provide you with membership plan leaflets, branded to your practice, and if you want help gaining new patients, we can help with that too! Our in-house design and marketing teams can advise you on developing your brand and are full of tried and tested ideas on how you can promote the plan to attract new patients.
Answered by: Les Jones, Marketing and Branding.
Working with a membership plan provider to administer a plan and provide support in creating a sustainable private business may not suit everyone.
We would say, though, that at a time of significant change for your practice, the benefits of working with a plan provider that has both the experience of hundreds of conversions and the resource to support you through the conversion process should not be underestimated. Also, administering your own plan can be costly and time-consuming, so doing it yourself could well prove to be a false economy. Indeed, we know of many practices who have found that running their own plan in-house was more difficult than they had anticipated.
The right provider can help with administration of the plan and resolve the inevitable queries that arise as patients move house, change their circumstances, move bank and so on. As part of our service, we carry out an annual mailing on your behalf if you decide to increase the monthly fees and can also provide advice on reviewing the fees. In addition, we provide support on important things like plan options, legislation, marketing to grow your patient base and business management, to name but a few!
So it's a decision that needs careful consideration to ensure you have the right staff with the right amount of time to take on board the new responsibilities administering a plan brings.
Answered by: Sarah Barnard, Regional Support Manager.
Our experienced team will offer their knowledge and expertise all the way, taking you through the whole process from assessing the risks and agreeing a strategy to assisting you in the design and execution of a communications plan. If it's agreed that a letter to your patients is appropriate, we can help you draft the letter and will undertake the mailshot on your behalf. We will also work with your team to get their buy-in to the change and to arm them with the knowledge and skills needed to promote the plan effectively to your patients.
But it doesn't stop there - that's only the beginning. We are here to support you throughout your practice life, offering you guidance and advice on the twists and turns of owning a business to make sure you meet your goals.
Answered by: Kerrie Hibbert, Business Support.