Reaping the rewards for both clinician and patient

Reaping the rewards for both clinician and patient

We hear from Ismail Qazi about the runnings of his practice, Bourne Dental at SOBO, and how he handles nervous patients. 

Time is a commodity in dentistry. Dentists are heavily dictated by it and the pressures of this can impact any dental experience.

Used wisely, it can alleviate stressors and allow for a more seamless patient journey. For Ismail Qazi, his generosity with his time has proven to be the very essence of success.

Ismail qualified just more than a decade ago and is a dentist with a special interest in endodontics. He launched his Dorset squat practice, Bourne Dental at SOBO, in January this year.

Within weeks he saw his patient base grow – mostly, it seems, attracting people who’d abandoned regular attendance amid the pandemic and were now seeking to remedy that. Many of these new patients were nervous or had lost their confidence in attending a dental appointment.

With wife, Naz Dawji, a former senior customer mortgage administrator at a building society who now works on the clinic’s reception and as its treatment coordinator, Ismail ploughed much time and money into creating his dental oasis.

And after many months of building works and refurbishment, he turned a previously uninspiring site in Bournemouth, once home to an accountancy firm, into Bourne Dental at SOBO.

Welcoming and unhurried

Ismail now delivers his own style of dental care at a measured pace and in a calm, welcoming and unhurried environment. At its heart is the ethos of ‘no patient should be treated by a stranger’.

His standard hour-long check-up has as much to do with getting to know the person in his chair as it does their clinical assessment.

In a dental world driven by expectations of fast results, this approach to patient care is seemingly an anomaly. But the opening of the practice has proved timely.

Firstly, it meets the needs of lapsed dental patients who are less confident than they once were and need time to readjust.

Secondly, it reflects a cultural shift within the profession that sees many practitioners embracing a slower pace of care. Bourne Dental at SOBO seems the epitome of this new mindset.

When it comes to his more nervous patients, Ismail encourages them to communicate any concerns before an appointment.

An initial consultation via a video link is always an option and he is happy to give anyone who needs the reassurance a virtual guided tour if it helps them take that first important step through the door.

Once inside, the clinic’s earthy, calming colours, the brushed copper detail and cool white interior with its arched doorways give the space a spa-like energy. The gold signage adds a luxurious touch to what is essentially, says Ismail, a general dental practice.

Meaningful consultation

The consultation room is thoughtfully designed, too, and is worlds apart from a traditional dental environment. It is in this non-clinical setting where Ismail does his best work.

Patients can get to know him and vice versa. ‘It’s more like a café than a clinic,’ he says. ‘Once I have found out more about what they’re after, then I can spend time making my assessment and talking them through their options in a more clinical setting.’

He will never offer solutions without this meaningful consultation and the process takes time, which is why every patient check-up is 60 minutes.

‘The most important thing to remember as a clinician is that prescription without diagnosis is malpractice,’ he says. ‘There is a risk that dentists will either rattle out loads of different options to a patient (who then goes away more confused than when they went in), or the dentist will give the patient a long list of necessary procedures without explanation.

‘Instead, we must listen and establish what each patient wants. Only then can we guide them to the right option based on who they are.’

Comfort first

And Ismail doesn’t switch off when the clinic shuts. Telephone calls divert to his mobile and he will often take patient calls into the evening or at weekends.

‘It may just be a couple of minutes out of my day, but to a patient it can make a huge difference,’ he says. Same-day appointments tick boxes for patients who need immediacy and don’t want that window of opportunity to reconsider and cancel.

‘We will always work with people to develop a plan to help them feel more comfortable and this includes during treatment,’ Ismail says.

‘Once in the chair, this might involve using a mild sedative or relaxing medication to help them feel more at ease.’

Additionally, patients can wear noise-cancelling headphones or listen to music as a distraction during any procedure.

Ismail has also invested in The Wand and provides complimentary pain-free injections to those patients who need the reassurance. ‘A lot of people are scared of needles, so we use The Wand, which looks more like a pen. It waylays their fears, but it is also great for clinicians because it allows for a more gentle and targeted approach to administering anaesthesia.

‘Some dentists believe they can achieve the same by injecting really slowly, but there is a big difference between this and using The Wand. The sensor informs me when it is numb.’

Wave of demand

He added: ‘It’s more comfortable for patients because it doesn’t puncture skin – the anaesthetic sits between the tooth and the gum and only numbs only the tooth being treated.’ Now part of his bespoke dental care, The Wand is already reaping rewards for the clinic.

‘Delivering this kind of service is not just about attracting nervous patients. People might come to us because they’re nervous, but they need to enjoy the whole experience. We want patients to go away and tell others about our care and that we always take time to listen and explain treatments.

‘By encouraging people to share their aspirations, fears and previous experiences, it can feel like a confession booth,’ he laughs. ‘People often feel the need to express their “dental sins”. But I will reassure them that we are not here to judge and we want to help them achieve their goals. Everyone has to start somewhere.’

With much of his patient base finding him via the practice website – and often saying that they made their enquiry based on the fact that he uses The Wand – Ismail has cornered a niche in the market.

Having just opened in January, he perhaps could not have foreseen this wave of demand but, as he says: ‘Apparently, there are a lot of nervous patients out there and I am delighted I am able to make a difference.’

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