As seen in Bite Magazine December 2015
National Dental Care looked at dentistry and thought, let’s build dental practices that patients might actually want to go to! The results of that plan are starting to appear all around the country.
Everyone is talking about disruption this year. Uber has disrupted the taxi industry by giving customers what they want. Social media has disrupted publishing by connecting individuals with each other and with brands. And Queensland-based corporate group National Dental Care (NDC) is disrupting dentistry by building brand new practices around the country that give patients the kind of healthcare experience they actually want.
“The dental profession is in the throes of profound change and driven, as much as anything, by consumer behavior and changes in consumer behavior,” says Gordon Towell, chief executive of NDC. “And patients who have put up with substandard facilities for quite a while. For many people a trip to the dentist might be to a one or two chair practice, up some stairs, grossly under-funded, old equipment, and non-accredited.
“But from our feedback, people aren’t prepared to put up with that now. There is a change and people are voting with their feet.”
The research undertaken by NDC indicated that consumers were looking for larger, cleaner, brighter, more modern practices that are more family-focused and can provide a broader range of services. The challenge for any practice, then, is: how do you offer that from the moment the patient walks in the door?
In a series of brand new practices in Brisbane, Darwin and Sydney, NDC’s practices have been conceptualised and built with the patient and the dentist in mind.
“For example, we’ve entirely changed the reception area,” says Towell. “We’ve moved away from having a reception desk, so it’s much more inclusive and friendly. It’s bright, it’s airy, and we’ve even developed our own proprietary scent, to get away from that clinical smell that makes some patients anxious.
“We’ve also got a really lovely sound system with soft music playing in the background, to make it much more of a pleasant experience. Every one of the new practices also has a kids’ corner, to allow parents to put their children in there.”
For dentists, the practices are large enough to offer a wide range of services in the one spot, along with the latest equipment.
“They’re typically much larger than a standard practice. They typically have either five or six chairs, although we’ve got an eight-chair facility being built in Darwin, which is probably about as large as we’d go. That gives the lead dentist the ability to offer a broader range of services. We look to offer implants, GP Ortho and chairside CAD/CAM. Because in 2015, it just seems madness that you still have to ask somebody to come back for two or three visits to have a crown fitted. This is all about improving the patients’experience and reflecting the fact most people are time poor.”
The first two of these practices are in Brisbane CBD, and Brisbane Newstead, in the Gasworks development. There are also new sites opening in Darwin and Springfield Lakes, in the outer suburbs of Brisbane.
There is also the plan to open up in an iconic sites in Barangaroo Sydney early in 2016, and further opportunities in new developments around that city’s western hub.
“The thing they all have in common is they are in areas where families are looking at alternatives to go to,” Towell adds. “Where perhaps a practice designed in a way we’ve just talked about, would be very compelling, and where people might say, ‘Well, actually, you know what? I do want to go to a practice that have more of a focus on customer service and excellent clinical care’.”
Most importantly, he adds, all NDC practices will be ADA-accredited. Which again, is a reflection of their patient-centred approach.
“I think that will be increasingly important for people,” he says. “If you’re paying the same amount of money from practice A to practice B, but practice B’s actually put the money in to making sure they’ve got up-to-date autoclaves and infection-control procedures, why wouldn’t you want to go there, and take your kids there?”
Find your nearest National Dental Care practice here.