The tiers of regulation dentists increasingly face can sometimes lead to further tears of frustration. However, these rules, and the various systems that support them, are mostly designed to underpin one principle: ensuring patient safety – something we’d all agree is a necessity.
The latest GDC regulatory expectation – in the guise of the enhanced CPD scheme (ECPD) – came into force in January for dentists, with Dental Care Professionals facing the changes on 1 August 2018. Chief Executive of the GDC, Ian Brack, suggests that ‘having a better system for continuing professional development – with a much clearer emphasis on planning development, reflecting on learning and embedding that learning into current practice – ties in with the prevention of patient harm element’.
ECPD is based on the four principles of ‘plan, do, reflect and record’. The model is designed to be a flexible approach to learning so that each dental professional meets his or her own specific goals in a tailored and relevant fashion whilst meeting the expectations laid out in the GDC’s Standards for the Dental Team.
Reflective practice is an essential component of this process but also works well in other environments, such as the world of commerce.
Reflective learning is a useful tool in business planning and principals would do well to apply the ‘plan, do, reflect and record’ system to the development of their practice brand. For those practice owners looking to develop their business alongside their own professional pathway, it is vital to consider them in tandem.
Just as the development of clinical skills is an asset to your business, a strong brand identity is the key to success in any highly competitive market. A brand needs to promote your skills to a target audience as well as meet and reflect the perceptions and experiences of existing patients.
Interestingly, corporate brands often try to look more like small businesses in order to appeal to those who prefer a more personal experience, but consumers are increasingly wise to this illusion. In truth, dentistry is a very personal experience and patients ordinarily connect with you emotively. The root of their loyalty is usually found in the trust you have built with them rather than the attraction of seeking dental treatment from a big but less personable brand.
In which case, does your practice brand mirror your own ethos or do you and your team get lost in a sea of branded practices that all look, feel and ‘speak’ the same?
What flexibility are you afforded when it comes to its development? Are you constrained by outside influences, such as dental plan providers that have their own brand to promote? Look at your practice as if for the first time and reflect on what you see.
The brand you create should reflect your team, your target audience, your specialisms and your personality. Take time out to consider your signage, your colour scheme, even the uniforms of your team – do they all convey the same messages? If none of these promote your own ethos, then who or what is it marketing?
If you want to influence the direction of your business and are considering moving away from your current brand, have you the confidence to establish a new one? Not all dental plan providers consider the practices they service as one entity and taking control of your business branding can be liberating.
For those considering changing to a practice-branded plan, it is reassuring to know that any reputable branded dental plan provider will offer guidance in the re-creation of a brand and the implementation of your own plan.
Any transition needs to be seamless and without disruption to patients or profits, so seeking input from those experienced in the field of marketing, design and plan implementation is important.
Your patients return because they believe in you, your team and your values. This, in turn leads to higher sales and better brand differentiation. If your reputation is not reflected in your current brand, you may be in danger of patients disconnecting – so consider plugging that gap by nurturing a new one.