Aims & objectives
The co-owning principal dentists of our practice had already completed principal-led conversions at the practice a couple of years ago, leaving NHS dentistry to the associate dentists. We had successfully introduced a membership plan at the practice with PPD to manage the transition, which had been well received by patients and allowed the principals to take the time to deliver the care their patients deserved. Fast forward to 2020, we were still struggling to make NHS care commercially viable at the practice. Our contract value was simply too low to deliver the care our patients needed and we were becoming increasingly frustrated in having to work in a time-pressured environment. It was really hard to explain this to patients considering their lack of understanding of the NHS system from a practice perspective. We had seen an increase in patient needs due to lockdowns and people having more time at home with a greater opportunity to snack! We were inundated with cases of caries, which made our NHS operations even more challenging on top of the challenges of operating under Covid restrictions.
We knew the writing was on the wall and ultimately we had to make the move to drop our NHS contract, but we were naturally apprehensive. In considering also the global pandemic, the whole thing seemed very daunting, but we decided to reach out to PPD to explore our options.
Why Patient Plan Direct?
We had previously had a positive experience with PPD supporting us through our principal-led conversions, and we were soon put at ease when the PPD team talked us through the process and options of managing a full practice conversion. They took the time to fully explain the best way to communicate the change to patients, the target number of patients we would need to retain, and the timeline of managing each step. We were confident we were going to receive the necessary support from PPD and despite the challenges of Covid, we decided to make the leap!
We gave the NHS and our patient base three months’ notice and communicated to patients their option of staying with us as a private patient. Before any communication went out, we held a number of virtual training sessions with PPD to ensure the team was fully prepared for the changes. The sessions worked really well and were highly engaging, ensuring the team came away with the confidence that the conversion was the right thing for both the practice and our patients.
Our conversion has been a great success and we’ve exceeded our targets by some margin, thanks to a well-thought-out and well-executed plan with the support of PPD. It’s never a simple transition to make such big changes and there have been some unexpected challenges along the way, such as dealing with the local press, but all considered we have now planted solid foundations for the future – we can provide the maintenance-focused dentistry we want to in a less pressured environment. We also know that the patients that have stuck with us want to come and see our team, rather than just access NHS care at any old practice. We are thrilled with the support of PPD through this process. I’d encourage other practices
to take the leap to private dentistry.