Intimacy In The Patient Journey


So I arrived at The Bull Hotel in Peterborough at 20:00, after a day that had started with a 04:30 alarm call and a personal record of 10 railway stations visited in one working day to facilitate 2 detailed practice visits.

I think it would be accurate to say that I was tired.

Additionally, I wanted to check into my room, unpack, iron a shirt and get myself settled and fed so that I could watch the Brazil v. Germany semi-final in the hotel bar.

The girl on reception acknowledged me with a smile as I approached, me being the only person around.

After the customary greetings, her check through a wedge of papers to pull out my booking and confirm to my that I was, indeed, Chris Barrow (phew), I handed over my credit card so that she could take a deposit for any extras.

Then the phone behind her started to ring.

So what do you think she did?

You guessed it.

She turned her back on me, my credit card in her hand – and answered the phone.

Thats what we have become conditioned to do isnt it?

If a phone rings – answer it.

More important than the person in front of you – because the person in front of you doesnt make a ringing sound.

So I stood there – tired and becoming more emotional by the second, as she chatted to another person about what time breakfast was served, how she would get an iron delivered to their room, where the gym was and what time it opened and closed.

Tick, tock.

Heart rate increasing.

Time to World Cup kick off decreasing.

Immobilised by the possession of my plastic.

Having to wait.

Until she has finished.

Hoping that when she puts the phone down it will not start ringing again.

Tension mounting.

Stress developing.

Time slowing.

My life flashing before me.

“Why didnt I join the Royal navy when I had the chance at 16?

“Why did I ever go into business coaching?

“When will this life as a road (sorry – train) warrior ever end?

Until a few minutes later, when she finished the call and turned back to me to complete our conversation.

By now – my interest in her and her establishment has ended – you see Im NOT going to give her or her management the feedback.

Why not?

Because people like YOU pay me to do that – so why should I help them for free?

Do I care if they get better?


Im never going back – if I get to revisit Peterborough I will stay somewhere else.


Have you separated telephony and front desk in your practice yet?

If not – how many times a day does a dental version of this happen to your patients – and how do they feel?


Im going to carry a device that imitates a telephone ringing so that the next time this happens I can press a button and my phone will ring as well as their phone but louder – I just want to see what happens.

Happy ending:

I did get to my room and get back down in time to see an astonishing game of football.









Dental Implants and The Element of Surprise


We are 2.5m years old as a species (unless you are a Christian fundamentalist – in which case, soz).

For 2.49m years we were hunter/gatherers (to read Robert Winston’s excellent book Human Instinct – CLICK HERE)

10,000 years ago, somebody decided to plant a seed and wait for it to grow – its the waiting around that turned God into a man – because the crops had to be protected. Before then, the agreed view was that God must have been a woman (what with lunar cycles, menstruation and all that).

Most of how we react and respond is based on the first 2.49m years – we haven’t had the time to change (on the evolutionary time-scale).

So when you tell a patient that their £2,000 dental implant is going to cost £3,500 because there have been complications, they will choose one of two predictable reactions:

Fight or flight.

Fight – “you must be effing joking, I’m calling the Dental Law Partnership, BBC Watchdog and the GDC” (any idea which would be worse nowadays?).

Flight – “see ya then – I’m off” (and I’ll fight when I get home).

Why do we fight or fly?

Because, just like a bloody great lion jumping out of the bushes just when I was settling down for a drink – you scared the shit out of me and my evolutionary sub-conscious mind took over from my 21st Century conscious mind.

There is a golden rule in the patient experience.


That starts with a dentist wimping out on the financial conversation and sending the patient to reception to be told what they have to pay in front of all the other wildebeest.

The more sinister and dangerous version is telling the patient that their implant and restoration will require an investment of £2,500 – and then hoping to God that there are no remakes and the patient is happy with the aesthetics.

I get the feeling that this is becoming more of a dance with the devil over time.

Patients are getting savvy and some dentists are getting just a little bit too hasty to see that “up-front payment with a 5% discount” in the bank.

Now – before you start – any self-respecting lion who erects an A-board by a watering hole that reads (in wildebeest speak, of course) “beware of the lions” can expect a period of loneliness.

The difference in dentistry is that you aren’t actually trying to frighten them – but the unfortunate fact is that dentistry is an art as well as a science and that the patients are unpredictable – after all they are homo-sapiens (literally wise after the event) and not homo-praedictio.

So the opposite of surprise is expectation.

Managing that expectation is a mission critical part of your patient experience and treatment planning.

I was chatting to a dentist the other day who told me that 20% of his implant cases required extra work as a result of functional or aesthetic problems.

At the moment he is basing his cost-estimating on the 80% of cases that go through without a hitch.

The 20% that “go wrong” create a fight or flight mentality and the loss of profits and potential problems are eating away at his time and his profit margins. His quote of the conversation:

“when a case goes “complicated” like that, I know before I start working on the solution that my next patient will generate no profit for the practice because the profit on the next case will cover the impending losses on the patient in my chair

Bonkers and disheartening.


Manage expectations.

“Mr Patient, I need to explain to you that dentistry at this level is an art as well as a science. There is an element of unpredictability because you are a human being and not a machine. On average, 80% of our patients sail through the treatment with no problems. Equally we notice that 20% of our patients require more attention than normal either because of functional or aesthetic problems with the treatment. I have no way of knowing at this stage which of these you might be.

What I would like to say is that 80% of the time you would be looking at an investment of £2,500 for this implant and the restoration but I have to inform you that, in 20% of cases, that investment could rise in order to keep you safe and happy with the outcome – in the past, the investment has risen to as high as £3,500 so the best we can do right now is be honest and promise to keep you informed at every step of the way.

If you can accept that 80/20 rule and the consequences of falling into the higher risk category then there will, at least be no surprises – how does that sound?

That’s my first stab at a solution to this problem that, if successful, could avoid future problems, both financial and legal.

I’d be interested in any further ideas on this subject.

In the meantime, whether there is a God, whether or not she is male or female and whether you wake in the night feeling the primeval urge to chase small animals and shit in the woods – do at least avoid the more obvious problems in patient communication.











Dunkirk or D Day


I was in a meeting a few weeks ago with a Principal who has just experienced a really rough patch at work.

If it could go wrong – it did.

Problems with team members, patients, suppliers and the bank.

The poor woman has had to burn a lot of midnight oil and push through the pain.

There is relief at hand – 7connections have been in there for 6 months, helping out – and she is beginning to turn the corner.

Actually – there has been some very good news recently on the recruitment front and sales/cash flow are improving.

The Principal is getting the right…

- People
- Processes
- Pound notes around her


There is one missing “P”


She has “learned” the Dunkirk spirit during the last year – that British thing we do – “one wheel on my wagon – and I’ll keep rolling along” – and it pervades her conversation, her tonality, her body language and the decisions she is making.

So, over lunch, I asked her:

“When are you going to drop the Dunkirk spirit and develop the D-Day spirit?”

Asked to elaborate, I explained:

“Why not adopt the attitude that you have regrouped, re-equipped, refreshed – and you are now launching an invasion and will not stop until you have secured the ultimate victory?”

I saw her think, agree and change in seconds.

It was like a light bulb coming on in her head.

The Dunkirk spirit (leadership in the face of potential defeat) is attractive in its own way – but if that’s who you are – then your team and patients can smell it – and they will follow your lead and keep their heads down.

The D-Day spirit is altogether different and delivers leadership in the face of victory.

Now that she has adopted the D-Day spirit, the dynamic in her business and her life will change – a completely different experience for all around her.

Are you displaying the characteristics of the Dunkirk or the D-Day spirit?

Industry Alert : Round Up

7connections newsflash

We have one exciting job role available for you this week! Please see below for further details:-

Job Title

Oakley Dental in Prestwich are looking for an enthusiastic therapist to join their team for 1 day per week, possibly increasing to 1.5 as the business grows.


Job Requirements

We would prefer someone who has experience with the pop in system. Fully private practice, modern surgery.


How To Apply

Please send your cv to the email


The Clue Is In The Coffee Shops



These people do their research – they know what they are doing.

They will look at the demographics, the economics, the location and the future of the post code.

Then they will decide to invest hundreds of thousands in shop-fitting, recruitment, training and marketing.

So if you are wondering whether to open or buy a dental practice, piggy back on the coffee culture industry.

Take a look around the area and see if you can find a Starbucks, Pret a Manger, Caffe Nero or Costa (preferably more than one).

Its not an infallible system – but a pretty good one.

In the centre of Peterborough yesterday, on my morning run, I saw three of the above – a good indicator that the town will support quality private dentistry.

Sometimes a pair of trainers and an early morning run are excellent market research as well as a good way of keeping fit.



Ask Yourself: Answer


Q – Ask Yourself – what are the critical contents of my website home page?

A - Your web site is no longer an on-line patient information leaflet.

It is your shop window.

Prospective new patients will window shop on Google – just the same way that they do for lots of other products and services nowadays.

So here is a list of 7 “must haves” for the home page of your web site – in order of importance:

1- Data capture – an exchange of valuable information (a free download of education, information and entertainment in return for an email address and permission to keep alerted until they are triggered to visit you). The data then to be captured and nurtured in a CRM system

2 – Online booking for TCO assessments and dental consults (using a live system such as Appointmentor)

3 – Icons to allow social media connection – as a minimum, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, You Tube

4 – A rolling graphic that swipes every 4 seconds and features practice, people, patients and products

5 – A short video (no more than 3:50 and use You Tube and not Vimeo) that features practice, people and patients

6 – A telephone number that will take me directly to a TCO if I am a new patient

7 – Treatments – a simple list of the treatments you want to encourage

The most important of these is data capture – by a mile.

Industry Alert : Round Up

7connections newsflash


We have some great industry alerts below, including three job offers and information about a course that enables you to receive a National Diploma in Dental Nursing in central London!

Please see below for more details:-

1 – Job Role

Great Endodontics opportunity in Dubai.

A highly respected, state of the art, 5 surgery private dental practice in Dubai is looking for an Endodontics specialist to join their team of experts.


The successful candidate must possess all the relevant paperwork and qualifications and a minimum of 5 year experience in the field of Endodontics. We are looking for a highly motivated, dynamic individual with outstanding clinical skills and a positive attitude. We offer a very competitive package and all support needed to the ideal candidate.

To apply

To apply or enquire please email to


2 – Job Role

Great opportunity for a highly motivated dental nurse in Dubai. We are also looking for a motivated dental nurse to join our practice.


The successful candidate must have all the required qualifications, comprehensive knowledge of infection control within dentistry, and be extremely organised with good communication skills and a positive attitude. This is a fantastic opportunity for the right candidate.

To apply

Please apply with your CV or email any enquiries to


3 – Job Role

A modern, friendly dental practice based in Fulham requires a nurse to join the team in a part-time role.


The ideal candidate should have the following qualities:-

1. Warm personality
2. Good communication skills – verbal and written
3. Good team player
4. Multi-tasked and quick learner
5. Available to work evenings and Saturdays (shift rotas)
6. Must have satisfactory CRB enhanced check and 2 written references from employers
7. Must have up-to-date Hep B. vaccinations
8. Live locally
9. Look well presented
10. Ability to stay calm under pressure.

Some late evenings will be required and Kodak R4 software training can be provided.

You must be a qualified dental nurse with GDC Registration - sorry, no trainee nurses.

The practice is a very friendly environment with modern facilities which aims to provide a high quality service to patients. As such, the practice is looking for someone with the right attitude and skills to deliver this level of service to its patients.

Applicants will be placed on a trial and/or probation before a permanent contract is awarded.

To Apply
Please email your CV along with a brief explanation of why you think you would be the ideal
candidate for this role to


Dental Nursing Course

Are you interested in completing a course to gain a National Diploma in Dental Nursing in central London? Talk to Kelly Haggett, the Principal of Lotus Dental School by emailing her at

For more information, click here for a downloadable PDF.