Following IDH’s sale of DD and Mydentist’s £70 million investment, we speak to Tom Riall about why Mydentist is grabbing all the headlines at the moment.
Tom, we speak to you on the back of Mydentist investing over £70 million developing its practices. Where is this money going and what are you spending the money on?
We’re investing a very substantial amount of money – over £70 million.
It’s really to make Mydentist the very best place to practise dentistry anywhere in Europe.
In real terms, what that means is we’re investing in our network of practices, in many cases picking up our smaller practices and merging them and moving them to create modern scaled practices that are better equipped and in prime locations.
We’re investing in our support network of clinical leadership, so clinical mentor, clinical support managers. Really to give our clinicians, particularly younger clinicians, the support and leadership that they need to develop their careers.
It’s a very comprehensive programme indeed, and will take place over the next three years.
It sounds like a lot of behind-the-scenes investment. Will every practice realise this investment and how will they experience it day to day in their practice, in the surgery?
We think that everyone, literally right across the business, is going to see the benefits of this investment at some point over the next three years.
Clearly, we can’t do it all at once, and it won’t all happen overnight. But even if you are a clinician or receptionist in one of those practices that we’re not picking up and moving to create a larger modern practice, your practice will go through a refresh programme.
That will see it being refreshed and reequipped with modern digital equipment, typically the introduction of intraoral scanning for example.
You will also see the benefits of additional support if you’re a clinician. And indeed, you’ll see the benefits of the investment that we’re making in the salaries of our front lines.
You mentioned the intraoral scanners, are there any other pieces of equipment that you’re kitting the surgeries with? And will you provide the training behind that as well?
Yes, certainly. In addition to our network of what I call general practices, we are also investing in a network of specialist centres.
We call them advanced oral health centres, which are designed to offer more complex treatments, typically implants, orthodontics and perio. We now have 18 of those around the country.
Everything that our research is telling us is that we need to get to a network of over 40 to capture about 80% of our internal referrals, nationally.
In addition to that, of course, we have now also carved out and created a specialist orthodontic business with some 37 dedicated orthodontic practices across the country.
You can see that we are investing right across the board.
Is that where Mydentist sees the growth going forward then?
For Mydentist, we’re looking forward in the specialist areas, the private treatments.
Yes, I think we can see that the real growth is offering patients nationally better access to affordable dental treatment that is so badly needed across the country today.
We will do that by creating a network of modern practices in the right locations. We will equip our practices with modern equipment. But perhaps most importantly of all, we are helping our clinicians to provide the treatments and care that they want to provide.
You mentioned previously about the salary rises. You’ve made a £5 million investment in dental nursing. Can you tell us about that?
This year, we have increased our salaried payroll by over £5 million. That’s a £5 million investment in the salaries of our frontline staff. And that is on top of the £4 million increase that we gave to our frontline staff last year.
What it means is, if you’re in a practice team anywhere in Mydentist, your average increase this year will be just over 5%.
And two thirds of our frontline practice teams will see an increase of over 6%. Something like 60% of our receptionists will see a pay rise of more than 9%.
These are pretty substantial increases. We think that they’re both fair and the right thing to do.
It will help our staff to cope with the significant cost of living increases that are so well documented at the moment.
Do the pay rises stop here?
We have to clearly watch what’s going on in the economy as a whole and make sure we respond to that.
But what we have seen clearly is, for our clinicians who are now doing substantially more private treatments, the level of private work they are doing today is more than double compared with this point last year.
Their private earnings therefore have effectively doubled. So, it’s not just our practice staff that is benefiting.
What does this mean for people who don’t work at Mydentist but would like to start? Will they be able to get access to those benefits as well?
If you’re just starting your career with Mydentist, I think the first thing that you will notice above all else is that we are now listening to you and we are trying to build a business around you.
Some of those clinicians will want to pursue a career in NHS dentistry. Others will want to do more private work.
The big difference is that we’re now saying we’ll help you to pursue the career that you want to pursue. That is very, very different to where the business was perhaps even five years ago.
One of the recent announcements was that IDH, which was Mydentist’s parent company, has sold DD. How does this impact Mydentist and the clinicians and staff working in the practices?
That was clearly a key strategic decision. We think it was the right thing both for Mydentist and DD.
What it has meant for Mydentist is that, firstly, the IDH brand doesn’t exist anymore, which means we’re starting a new chapter. It has also allowed us to pay down a significant chunk of our borrowings, putting us in a strong position for the future.
And most importantly, it has freed up a substantial chunk of investment to help us offer unrivalled support for clinicians.
In the practices, what does that mean for buying things like consumables in the future? Does anything change?
Yes, we think it does.
We think it’s going to allow us to accelerate the introduction of digital technology, and clearly one of the big drivers in this is the introduction of intraoral scanning.
We’re also investing substantially in, what will be less visible at the start, our back-office technology. Over time, we will see the introduction of, for example, online booking and an improved patient experience, something that really is non-existent in dentistry today.
What are the plans for Mydentist over the next few years?
All of us at Mydentist are excited about the future.
The company is already very different to the one of even five years ago. But the plans for the next three years are perhaps even more transformative.
In essence, what we’re trying to do is build a business around our clinicians, to help and support them in pursuing the careers that they want to pursue.
That means investing in a modern practice network with practices that are in the right locations, investing in the right training and support for our clinicians and allowing them to pursue the careers that they want to pursue, whether that is in the NHS or privately.
Already, we’re starting to see the benefits of that. We’re seeing clinicians from right across the country, whether they are experienced clinicians or foundation dentists in their final year before they fully qualify, wanting to come and work for us.
They can see that this is a business that cares for them and cares for their careers.
Interestingly, we’re starting to see that clinicians from overseas also see us as the go-to destination. So we think the future is really exciting for us.
Looking at practice growth, will you be looking to expand your portfolio?
The number of practices is not our overriding goal.
The overriding goal for us is to create a business that is genuinely seen as the number one destination for clinicians in this country.
Somewhere where you can genuinely pursue the career that you want to pursue, whether that’s NHS or private dentistry.
I think we’re the only organisation today that is really rolling out on a national scale, an affordable private brand of dentistry.
For some time, we have seen a huge gap in the market between NHS dentistry, where it’s almost impossible to get an NHS appointment, and private dentistry. Your only alternative is to go private, and many people in this country consider that unaffordable.
There is no one at scale offering something in the middle brand – an affordable private range of treatments. That is something we introduced fairly recently, just before the pandemic. Today that business is accelerating hugely.
We think, particularly if we go into a period of sustained economic downturn, that the business is really well positioned to ride out the next couple of years.
For more information about Mydentist, visit www.mydentistcareers.co.uk.
Follow Dentistry.co.uk on Instagram to keep up with all the latest dental news and trends.