Growing a successful dental implant clinic
BILLINGHAM; UK: In April 2016, Dr Ian Lane, a managing partner at Queensway Dental Clinic, together with Richard Elliott, Managing Director of Queensway’s Dental Laboratory, presented a webinar to a global audience of over 350 dentists, giving their insights into what they feel have been the most fundamental factors of growing a successful dental implant clinic.
Queensway Dental Clinic (www.queensway.co.uk) was founded in 1993, when Dr Paul Averley took over the north-eastern clinic. At the time, it was at the heart of an area where the population’s oral health was significantly lower than that of the national average. Over the next 23 years, the practice grew into the award-winning business it is today—a journey that Lane believes would not have been possible without the partners, specialists, nurses, managers, technicians and therapists who have invested their time and passion in every step.
Between 1998 and 2013, Queensway Dental Clinic was the largest referral centre for conscious sedation in the region, and the clinic treated over 100,000 patients during that time. However, as of 2011, the business model started to change and the partners turned their attentions to expanding the private side of the clinic. By applying the same principles learnt from building a successful NHS practice, Queensway Dental Clinic grew from a four-surgery practice into a 25-surgery practice over time.
Lane suggested that this success can largely be attributed to the Queensway ethos with its patient-centred approach to dentistry: “We focus on holistic care, meaning there is real choice for the patient, as well as ensuring that shared decisions are made, over which patients have full control.”
“We have always invested in our team,” continued Lane. “Indeed, the strong foundations of our clinic have been built on the knowledge and experience of our team. To build a truly successful implant clinic, it is vital to have the right team in place.”
With Gold Standard Investors in People accreditation, it is clear that Queensway Dental Clinic understands the importance of nurturing the skills of its team. Investing heavily in the continuing professional development (CPD) of every single member, it has seen its nursing teams progress through the Nobel Biocare basic and advanced nursing courses, as well as attain the dental implant nursing qualification from King’s College London—and all are experienced to some degree with the All-on-4 treatment modality.
Of course, it is not just the clinical skills that contribute to the success of an implant practice. Queensway Dental Clinic has striven to improve the training of its front-of-house staff to ensure that patients receive only the very highest standard of service from the moment they enter the practice. This has included sending the team on lunch-and-learn sessions with Nobel Biocare representatives, having cue cards developed to act as prompts on the phone, and giving each of the staff the necessary understanding of implant treatment options in order for them to communicate this effectively to prospective and current patients.
Furthermore, Queensway understands the importance of investing in the skills of its partners and takes great pride in the individual achievements of its team members. Indeed, the partners at Queensway Dental Clinic have all graduated from the Kois Centre in Seattle in the US—five of only 15 practitioners in the UK to have done so.
“The skills we have learnt at the Kois Centre have transformed the way we practise,” said Lane, “as well as improving the outcomes we can achieve for our patients. Seeing many patients who have suffered from many different problems with their teeth, it’s vital that we have the skills—like those that the Kois Centre teaches so well—to be able to manage the complexity of these cases in a reliable way. Without a doubt, these skills have also enabled us to reassure our patients that they are being treated with the most up-to-date and predictable procedures and techniques.”
Elliott too graduated from the Kois Centre and was the very first technician in the UK to have done so. This significant achievement is mirrored in the way Queensway invests in the skills and CPD of its laboratory technicians, representing recognition of the importance of technicians in the provision of implant therapy.
Indeed, owing to the training provided by the Kois Centre, as well as the benefits of NobelClinician Software, the team at Queensway has managed to streamline their case assessment and treatment planning process. “We’re all speaking in the same language now,” said Lane. “We can provide effective risk assessments for our patients, deliver effective and reliable treatment plans for implant treatments, design our patients’ smiles, provide diagnostic assessments with models and photos, and review cases with the entire team present.”
Vital to all this, Lane went on to explain, are communication and working alongside colleagues who all have the same skill and experience. “This is why,” he said, “we take our training and education seriously at Queensway.”
It is also down to the implant provider. Since 1993 (with the exception of a very short departure in 2009), Queensway Dental Clinic has used Nobel Biocare implants. “It’s the mix of quality service and quality products,” explained Lane. “We don’t use cheap products and Nobel Biocare doesn’t provide them. In all, it helps us minimise the risk to our patients and enables us to achieve excellent results.”
Working with Nobel Biocare enables the Queensway team to use a variety of different techniques, including immediate loading, and provides the opportunity to scan and plan treatments in full 3-D. It also allows the clinical staff of Queensway to liaise effectively with the laboratory staff, expediting and improving the process from start to finish.
This kind of professional knowledge, when brought together effectively with clinical, technical and management skills, has been one of the greatest contributing factors to the success of Queensway’s implant business. “It’s been a challenge,” admitted Lane, “and it requires excellent communication from all aspects of our business, but it has certainly paid dividends—and it certainly would not have been possible without the relationship we share with Nobel Biocare.”
This relationship seems in no way likely to end soon; indeed, the team at Queensway Dental Clinic and laboratory has found working with Nobel Biocare so effective that it has seen an 87 per cent increase in spending on Nobel clinical products, as well as a 250 per cent increase for laboratory items since 2011. “Having a single company solution in our busy practice has been incredibly useful in boosting our business,” said Lane.
The figures speak for themselves. Since 2011, Queensway Dental Clinic has experienced an increase in its implant turnover of 220 per cent with up to 50 per cent of all of its private activity originating from its provision of implants. There has also been a concurrent growth of 125 per cent in its laboratory business and this can be directly linked to its implant success.
However, having the knowledge and the products is just one part of achieving success. Putting everything into practice represents the greatest struggle for a large and busy centre like Queensway Dental Clinic. For this reason, the team strives to follow five essential tenets to ensure success.
Firstly, it is important to provide one point of contact. Lane explained that having so many disciplines together under one roof has created a service in which patients can feel confident. Rather than being passed around between different teams, patients at Queensway can conveniently be treated by one dedicated and well-trained team.
Furthermore, Queensway invests in progressive treatment protocols. The team works hard to ensure patients’ teeth can be restored in the shortest predictable time. This includes adopting new technologies and techniques, as well as learning to communicate effectively with all necessary services to ensure the optimum result can be achieved in the shortest, safest and most non-traumatic manner.
While Lane emphasised the importance of communication within the Queensway team, he also stressed how important it is to communicate effectively with patients. By conducting applicable and in-depth research of the patient demographic in the area, the Queensway team can target its treatments to those who need them most. This information can then be transferred to tried-and-tested marketing campaigns, such as those used on the practice website, through Google or via social media. Queensway also utilises local advertising, which can often be the most successful method of reaching patients in the area.
Lane explained how crucial it is to invest in a good website: “As one of the main points of contact for most patients, a website has to be responsive; it has to be image led and easy to navigate. Our website is both smartphone and tablet friendly, in recognition of the massive usage of these two devices. All of the images on our website are of our own patients as well—no stock images are used.”
Another key factor of Queensway’s success is its ability to accept high-end treatments at any time. This means that whenever an enquiry is made about any treatment, it can be answered succinctly and accurately by a member of the team who understands precisely what is needed. Queensway Dental Clinic has a highly trained treatment adviser who can answer these queries, and the clinic offers a free 30-minute consultation with an implant dentist.
Lastly, Queensway Dental Clinic recognises the importance of delivering patient satisfaction and encouraging patients to recruit others. According to Lane, “At Queensway, approximately 80 per cent of all new patient enquiries are made through word of mouth or recommendations.”
Everything the Queensway team does is geared towards ensuring that patients receive a service they cannot help but recommend. By carrying out monthly patient surveys, running patient forums and open evenings, taking testimonials and Google reviews, and building up a strong referral network, the Queensway team can collect, review and build upon patient feedback to ensure that its service always reaches a high standard.
In conclusion, by investing in exceptional training, by communicating effectively, by working with high-quality and supportive companies, and by maintaining high levels of service, Queensway Dental Clinic has achieved a great deal over the last 20-plus years. The dedication and hard work shown by its team are a testament to its past and continued success and serve as a shining example of what an implant business can achieve today and tomorrow.