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a blog by Chris Barrow

Introducing MAD dentistry

Before I start, apparently good news yesterday, as the Government announce their Bounce Back Loans for small business. No doubt the devil will be in the detail and so I'll be looking forward to our Daily Briefing with dental accountant Alan Suggett at 13:00 today.

In the meantime, I've noticed a real change in the tone of the conversation amongst my clients in the last few working days.

Recent weeks have been dominated by furlough rules, portal purgatory and CBIL frustration, as well as the moral maze of associate/therapy/hygiene pay, keeping the team happy and the challenges of waiting for anything that comes out of NHSE.

Over the weekend and yesterday, the debate moved on to:

  • When do we return to work?

  • What level of dentistry will we be able to deliver?

  • How will I deploy my team, organise my surgeries and triage the patients?

  • What will be the appropriate levels of infection control?

  • Where do I get my PPE?

I observe that, yet again, the private sector were left high and dry after Friday's webinar and are now mobilising to take control into their own hands, my client base representing a micro-economy within the greater landscape.

On a Zoom call last night, the 75+ practices attending agreed to form a research and purchasing group so as to be ready for what happens next.

There's another very focused conversation developing across my client base.

It relates to what the day to day delivery of dentistry will look like in the return to work phase.

In yesterday's post, I referenced the staged return that began in Australia today and the limited range of procedures allowed, suggesting that this may be a clue for us.

I'm beginning to realise that there is an opportunity here to create an entirely new patient journey.

My working title is MAD dentistry (I know - it's unlikely to last but will suffice for now).

Minimal Attendance Dentistry

It's time to creatively destroy the existing patient journey and replace it with an experience in which every opportunity is taken to keep the patient out of the building.

That may sound as mad as it's title but bear with me and look at the resources we have available to us:

  • A plethora of video consultation platforms

  • TCOs who can be trained to use said platforms

  • Photography platforms that allow prospective patients to snap their own teeth and send the files to you, either extra-oral or partially intra-oral

  • A selection of intra-oral scanners

  • Digital Smile Design and all of its derivatives

  • Dental Monitoring

  • Digital workflow

  • Powerpoint treatment plans (with voice-over video)

  • End of treatment photography and videography that can be arranged remotely

We know that the orthodontic community are at a significant advantage here but the adaptation of remote consultation systems can, I believe, create a brand new workflow that isn't as hampered by new infection control standards as some are speculating.

There could be a new mantra in many areas of dentistry:

"Scan and deliver"

Other than that, we will communicate with you virtually.

It's early days. The endo and perio people will feel left out. It will be some time before elective implant dentistry returns.

There is a lot of thinking to be done around this.

I'm beginning to think that we can get practices back into business in a way that will be profitable.

Having said that, I'm advising all of my clients to ge ready for 8 to 8, 6 days a week - and to think about how they split their teams to accommodate that.

It might sound MAD to you right now - but MAD might just be the new normal.

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