Millennial owner and Generation X associate bring customization to patient-centric practice.
Dentists of Brighton is a Pacific Dental Services® supported practice located in Brighton, Colo. Practice owner Ian McLean, DDS, heads a team of 16, including his associate, Brad Guyton, DDS, and a team of 10 affiliated specialty members. Dr. McLean is a millennial and Dr. Guyton brings the Generation X perspective. Together, though, they share a common goal – to provide all patients with the highest level of care possible and a patient-centric experience. The support from a leading dental service organization (DSO) makes this possible.
“We have standardized systems, integrated specialties and a maniacal focus on the patient experience – all of which impact patient outcomes,” says McLean. “Ours is a methodical, intentional, patient-centric practice. Our clinicians have the flexibility to customize every aspect of their interaction with patients, which is complemented with clearly defined standards and coaching to help them understand what patients want.
“With integrated specialties, we can create a practice that provides the highest level of care for each patient,” he continues. “Patient compliance is improved when the general dentist, patient and specialist can all discuss treatment together in the same room. For example, we no longer worry about patients being referred to an endodontist and then falling into a black hole. We share a common electronic health record (EHR) and see our specialists frequently to receive feedback and follow-up on patient care. The face-to-face interaction we get with our specialists makes us better dentists.”
“At the office level, we have more time to dedicate to patients because of the back end support we receive from our regional and national DSO teams,” says Guyton. “The support we receive around insurance and billing allows us to estimate a patient’s out-of-pocket cost with a high degree of confidence. New patients often tell us they left their last dentist’s office because they received an unexpected bill, and we can confidently tell them that this will never happen at our practice. We don’t have to chew up valuable time on this. Instead, we can spend that time forming valuable connections with our patients and ensure they receive the individualized care they deserve.”
Dr. Ian McLean and Dr. Brad Guyton: When it comes to our clinical teams, the training our DSO provides is unparalleled in the group practice industry. When we were both in private practice, the costs to the practice were often prohibitive for ongoing training and education. After purchasing new and expensive equipment, there often was no budget for training in these new technologies and techniques. This is never the case in our supported environment. When we implement new technology, like CEREC, lasers and guided implant placement, we have help overcoming the two biggest obstacles: cost and training. We have exceptional partnerships with world-class vendor partners who provide equipment and supplies at extremely competitive rates, as well as training to supplement our in-house curricula.
Efficiency in Group Practice: As more millennials enter the dental industry, how has this impacted your practice?
Dr. Ian McLean and Dr. Brad Guyton: As a millennial practice owner and a Generation X associate that loves millennials, we are encouraged by the millennial workforce and look forward to learning more about the Generation Z that is now entering dental school. Millennials are looking to provide great patient care and have a patient-centric practice, just like prior generations. The cost of joining our profession is now significantly higher than it used to be. Student loan payments are exorbitant, and the quality continuing education (CE) necessary to provide excellent care can also be costly.
Dr. Ian McLean: As a new graduate dentist in 2016, I was not able to afford to pay for any CE at all. I felt like I was stagnating as a clinician. Many of my colleagues expressed to me that they felt this way for several years before they were able to enroll in substantial CE courses. After joining a PDS-supported practice, I had the opportunity to receive high-quality training from experts in their respective fields. This was provided at no cost to me, so I was able to enroll in these courses immediately. My clinical ability has improved rapidly, and my patients benefit from this. Millennials are digital natives; they are looking for a practice with high-tech solutions to improve the patient experience, and they are willing to flex their hours to be more patient-centric than traditional private practices. Surprisingly, with all the great millennials in our practice, we still stay on budget, even with the expensive line item of avocado toast!
Efficiency in Group Practice: What do your patients especially value about your dental practice?
Dr. Ian McLean and Dr. Brad Guyton: In the past, to retain great patients we had to give patients one good reason to stay. Now the line between the patient and consumer has become blurred, and patients expect more convenience. We expand hours and keep schedules flexible so that we can see patients today. Often the busiest time of our day is 4-7 p.m., which doesn’t allow us to have dinner at home every evening but builds loyalty with patients extremely quickly. Patients love the modern feel of our well-architected office; they appreciate the technology we have and the highest standard of care.
Efficiency in Group Practice: We hear more and more about the connection between oral and physical health and the need for dentists to take a holistic approach to patient care. How has this impacted the way your dental professionals work with patients?
Dr. Ian McLean and Dr. Brad Guyton: We have taken a proactive approach to the mouth-body connection through multiple channels, such as patient education, salivary testing, OSA sleep referral, and linkage conversations around chronic disease and oral health. We have a perio protocol that ensures each patient receives a full-mouth probe and accurate diagnosis from the dentist at least once per year. We subscribe to, and document, the new American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) guidelines. The tools provided by Pacific Dental Services in terms of AAP guidelines and partnership with salivary testing vendors has made these types of best practices simple to implement. The DSO platform also provides ongoing education to reinforce these practices.
Efficiency in Group Practice: In your experience, what does the growing DSO market mean for traditional solo practices?
Dr. Ian McLean and Dr. Brad Guyton: Solo and group practices will always be able to co-exist in the marketplace. We live in an exciting time, when dentists have numerous great models to choose from based on their preferences. Dentists who prefer to make all the business decisions can be wildly successful in solo practice. Dentists who prefer onsite collaboration and proven systems may find this in a small or group practice environment. Some dentists want to be business people, some want to be exceptional clinicians, and some have the capacity to be both.
The future of dentistry is extremely promising with expanded access to resources, vendor partnership, greater focus on patient centricity at an affordable cost, more integrated technology solutions and innovative practice models. It isn’t the model of practice that makes a great dentist. It’s the dentist.
Ian McLean, DDS, is a 2016 graduate of the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine and the owner of Dentists of Brighton, a practice supported by Pacific Dental Services® in Brighton, Colo.
Brad Guyton, DDS, MBA, MPH, serves as the vice president of clinician development for Pacific Dental Services. He is an associate professor at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine and practices dentistry at the PDS-supported practice Dentists of Brighton. Dr. Guyton is a graduate of Baylor College of Dentistry and has fellowships from Harvard University in geriatric dentistry and from the American College of Dentists (ACD).