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a blog by Chris Barrow

Dentistry as American football

There are two styles of dentist: Attack – reliably productive, predictably good at communication, encouragingly enthusiastic, popular with patients and team, £1000+ a day producers; Defence – reliably plodding, predictably introvert, worryingly demotivated, £700-£1000 a day producers. I’ve noticed that, no matter how many training courses you send the defence to – Breathe, Ashley Latter, Stephen Anderson et al – they carry on producing £700-£1000 a day – and I have proved elsewhere that on a 50% contract that is losing money for the principal. Defence prefer to go on clinical courses – to learn more and more about clinical skill and technique – so that they can have a more interesting time producing £700-£1000 a day – then go home to their apartment, gym and Porsche Boxster. Attack just do it. They just do £1000, £1250, £1500 a day – whatever patients you put in frot of them. And if you give them new patients, that will rise to over £2000 a day and beyond. It just happens that they do all the clinical courses as well – but they have a gene that makes them good communicators and producers. So the way to set up a dental practice is that:

  1. Attack see all new patients and, after dealing with any initial treatment requirements, pass them on to the defence team for ongoing maintenance;

  2. Attack are responsible for the delivery of all advanced treatment referred to them by the defence dentists in the building

  3. Attack see 7/8 patients a day

  4. Defence do the maintenance – full stop

  5. Defence see 20-30 patients a day

If the principal is an attacker – the principal sees new patients and delivers advanced treatment to the existing patients who are referred from defence. Therapists/Hygienists? Same model – attack and defence – but you cannot figure which is which by production – you can however, look at the FTA rate. An attacking hygienist has a very low failure rate in the book – the patients love to visit. Up to 10% FTA. A defence hygienist has more cancellations – because they are not so much fun to be with. Over 10% FTA (and sometimes above 20%!). How does that contrast with what you are doing? Are you a principal drowning in a sea of check ups, frustrated by the inabaility to fit treatment appointments into your diary? There’s no way out of that hamster wheel unless you make radical change – and sort your team out.

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