Not many patients had heard of Integrated Dental Holdings 20 months ago when Terry Scicluna became Chief Executive of the company. The problem with IDH was that they had “no national brand”, according to Terry. Despite having over 650 practices, and employing thousands of dentists across the UK, they lacked a unified national brand and that was something that Terry and the team at IDH sought to remedy quickly.
“Our research told us that having a brand is important to patients, important to customers. And you can never listen enough to your customers,” Terry explains. After piloting a new brand across 90 practices where feedback was extremely positive from staff and patients alike, the group decided to launch their brand across the UK.
The result is mydentist, the new national brand for the biggest provider of corporate dentistry in the UK. The branding itself offers the idea of a friendlier, more personal approach to dentistry and it most certainly presents itself in stark contrast to traditionally dour views of dentistry, something which the profession as a whole has sought to distance itself from: the old, worn-out stereotypes that unfortunately remain part of popular perceptions.
Terry is delighted by how the brand has been received so far and believes the brand will soon become synonymous with a fresh idea of dentistry in the UK in the minds of customers. “It’s all about a complete reengagement with people. It’s about redefining dentistry. I want them to be able to receive reminders to their phone the day before an appointment; I want them to be able to book appointments online.” These ambitious new plans are already reaping dividends.
The trials of the new branding saw practices attracting more patients and patients recommending the practice to their friends and family as the mydentist brand offering vibrant, real imagery alongside the polite, courteous staff behaviour that Terry believes will become a standard of the brand in the future. As well as offering consumers a professional, vibrant service, it is customer service which takes centre stage for Terry. He said: “I want patients to be treated the same way retail treats customers. We’ll retrain all staff members as a means of standardising behaviour across all of our practices.”
As the largest provider of dental care services in the UK, they certainly have the financial muscle to perform such a large rebranding of their dental practices. “We intend on having all practices in the portfolio rebranded by the end of the first quarter next year. The work is done at the weekend, causing as little disruption to treatment as possible. These upgraded practices are all designed with the idea of creating an idea of what brilliant dentistry looks like, and expressing that to the patient.”
With oral health conspicuous in its absence for public health debates, mydentist can act as a key driver of the common aims across the whole profession, including putting prevention at the heart of dental services. With the new NHS contract at prototype stage, with the expected emphasis on prevention over treatment, their practices are well placed to deal with whatever comes their way, according to Terry.
Each year, they “acquire 60 to 80 practices. Our own in-house acquisitions team engage with practice owners on a daily basis. Half of the corporate-run practices are run by IDH. With the excellent infrastructure we have, we are able to offer a range of services to help practices run better.” These economies of scale include the services of a private development team who can offer the essential, clinical expertise to pass CQC inspections as well as the added benefits of enhancing your marketing and ability to retain patients. As the move to private dentistry and corporate practice becomes more and more popular, the future certainly looks bright for mydentist.
“We are perfectly placed to embrace whatever comes,” according to Terry. “Brilliant communication is the basis for what we’re doing going forward.” If they continue to communicate the mydentist brand to patients and dentists, alike, there is no reason why they can’t deal with what lies on the horizon for dentists in the future. With, for example, the uncertainty surrounding the aforementioned NHS contracts and the profession’s ongoing dissatisfaction with the GDC, Terry certainly believes mydentist is well suited to deal with what lies ahead. With over 650 practices across the UK, solid foundations within the industry and a fresh, new brand designed to attract and retain patients, mydentist certainly has plenty reasons to smile.