The dental sector is facing its busiest period in modern times due to patients catching up with treatment post-Covid closures. That’s why taking a moment to study how other industries optimise the flow of building users before, during and after an appointment could unlock valuable efficiency benefits for dentists.
With, using the example of UK NHS dentists, 14 million appointments already missed by late last year, every efficiency decision can have a huge impact due to the scale involved as patients start to catch up on lost time.
Read on to explore how other industries have faced similar volume challenges and discover how this thinking can help practice owners in 2021.
Efficiency for Practice Results: Lessons from Leading Businesses
Industry-leaders from high-volume retail, restaurants and even airports can offer insights into how layout, bookings and management of equipment can be optimised by dental practices keen to work at their very best.
Taking each of these in turn…
Practice physical environment: Our last blog started to explore how a concept we call Design-Based Patient Experience can combine the lessons of luxury hotel design with high-end hotel design to create a familiar, more relaxing environment for patients.
We’ll be continuing to expand on this concept in our blog publishing and in our work with clients but, in the meantime, concepts to consider include the use of a calm and luxurious colour palette and private spaces for sensitive discussions including taking payments and consultations.
Ultimately, it’s worth asking yourself if such elements borrowed from the design language of a favourite hotel could help reduce patient anxiety as well as – therefore – create a healthier working environment for colleagues too.
On-site processes for patient flow: There are few sectors where an efficient, dependable booking system is more essential than in the restaurant industry. After all, with time bound fresh food in stock and the balance between a cost-effective number of ‘covers’ and avoiding rushing diners to consider, their booking system has to work well or cause damage to the restaurant’s image.The best booking systems from the eatery sector may combine three elements: 1, the flexibility to link in with other platforms as they are developed (for example, a restaurant system designed to automatically handle orders from Deliveroo); 2, an ability to handle orders for supplies including quantities, and; 3, collect information about customers as well as link in with automated communications actions like reminders, an email on their birthday etc.
What could this approach look like for an efficient, ambitious practice? Features such as automated appointment reminders for patients, online book-in for patients on arrival and a compliance portal for the practice itself can bring the best of commercial digital thinking to create a better experience both for the patient and behind the scenes.
After all, restaurants believe that “with the right tools, you can fully leverage data and use it to build customer loyalty, provide personalized offers and experiences, analyse trends, and improve every aspect of your customers’ experience”.
Could these capabilities help your practice in the busy post-lockdown era?
Meanwhile, in terms of how patients flow around a practice there are few better specialists to look to than the experts who organise supermarket layout.
Because of the enormous scale involved, every product and feature is deliberately placed in a supermarket for extremely carefully considered reasons and always with one thing in mind: how to flow visitors through the space available using the right route, past customer services, through payment and onwards with maximum results and fewest delays.
That’s why you might find that aisle of cut price offers on your right as you enter, those end-of-aisle offers placed to lead you to bakery products in the far corner and, finally, the drinks section at the next corner before the cash registers.
This thinking can be applied to a dental practice by considering – for example – whether dental products and information about new services, such as a new cosmetic treatment, could be attractively displayed in waiting areas. Having reception fully briefed with supporting information and ready to offer these details, even suggesting a follow-up information call or consultation, to those showing an interest could then help the patient’s decision process along.
For those who prefer a deep dive, the science of the subject is as extensive and complex as it is fascinating.
But the ultimate question remains: could the supermarket industry’s well-proven knowledge of how people flow, what they see plus what they do (and when) create a more efficient, reassuring experience for practice patients? One where they are guided, informed and effectively helped to move around the space with fewest delays to both themselves and the practice?
One industry where correct maintenance of equipment (in this case, a vehicle) is a life or death issue for both end-users and for the continuity of the business itself? The airline industry.
Routine servicing and maintenance programmes are treated by aircraft operators, and their oversight bodies, as an essential. Why? Because they simply bring so many essential benefits beyond the obvious safety considerations, such as reduced downtime, reduced repair costs and better performance.
That’s why the MRO – or Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul – subindustry isn’t just a huge sector in its own right, but is an academic subject and a lifelong discipline of critical importance.
Finding the right approach, balancing the performance and running cost of existing equipment vs replacement cost as well as considering options for repair/ maintenance schedules, is vital for dental practices where downtime, reduced efficiency, poor performance and unreliable equipment are not options during the post-lockdown upturn. That’s why we offer options like equipment supply/ maintenance advice, automated restocking of essential items and even annual fixed price servicing plans.
Our blog section will continue to explore the themes of efficiency and practice design with the aim of helping UK practices to create smarter practices where patients feel relaxed and colleagues can do their best work. After all, both these practice management essentials have become more important than ever.
To find out more about how hospitality thinking in practice design, our complimentary workflow assessment service or high-performance equipment maintenance support simply contact us with any questions. We’re here to help.