Collaboration is at the core of what Dentex is building. We speak to some of the group’s leading lights to find out how they are making knowledge sharing work
Giving up clinical time to mentor dental colleagues can be a tricky prospect to justify. Unless you are charging directly for your time, hours spent away from the practice – particularly away from the chair side – is time that is not bringing in any revenue.
It can be hard to share knowledge within the traditional structure of dentistry.
But Dentex is anything but traditional. So, it should come as no surprise that it’s building a business that encourages sharing knowledge, and where improving other practices benefits everyone.
Within the group, mentoring is thriving.
Across the business, partners like Mitesh Badiani are finding that they have more time to dedicate to training the teams within their network.
Mitesh is an experienced clinician in his own right, but as a clinical professor for the University of Warwick, teaching is another string to his bow – and one that’s close to his heart.
Building mentoring into the network of practices he brought into the Dentex fold was therefore a natural step. But whereas it was once much more ad-hoc, partnering has allowed him to formalise a mentoring system in a way that just wasn’t possible before.
‘It’s quite amazing,’ he explains. ‘Everybody wanted to be more involved with mentoring before, but nobody knew how to go about it. But now we have the structure in place, we’re encouraging all new practices to be part of it – and everyone is loving it.’
The group has embraced the programme in a big way and Mitesh believes that doing so is driving standards up across the group.
He encourages endodontic treatments to be carried out with a microscope by dentists with appropriate training – so dentists who want to do so are trained accordingly.
Once they have proved they can use a microscope, the practice invests in the equipment: it’s that simple.
In the same way, the dentists in all new practices are mentored so that they are able to restore implants. If they want to do more, the pathways are there.
It’s not just dentists who are part of it – there are structures in place to mentor practice managers, nurses, hygienists and therapists too. In two of Mitesh’s practices, every single nurse has been trained on the full range of extended duties.
He says proudly: ‘In those practices, none of the dentists take radiographs or impressions. ‘The nurses are qualified in all five disciplines. They cannulate our patients for sedation. They’re fully implant trained, so they handle a lot of the implant care too. And we have found the quality has increased as a result.’
Crucially, he is satisfied that the improved focus on mentoring and learning is making things better for patients and practices alike. And he is clear about why things have changed for the better, too.
He explains: ‘That’s what’s unique about this Dentex model. ‘The beauty of our group is that because we’re set up with centralized support in areas such as HR and compliance, it allows us to go out and spend time with practices.
The time I used to spend on those things, I can now spend mentoring.’ The clinical freedom enjoyed by all Dentex practices also allows practices to flourish. And because every principal is truly a partner in the business, their success benefits everyone.
‘Everyone is embracing the mentoring,’ explains Mitesh. ‘Because it works. We have a situation where every principal has a stake in the business, so everyone benefits from what we do. ‘If we mentor younger dentists, and they take their skills out across the group and deliver a higher standard of care across our practices, the share price of Dentex is ultimately going to go up. ‘That directly benefits us as well. No other business has that model.’
Mitesh is by no means alone in his newfound freedom. Rahul Doshi is another partner making waves in his area – namely Essex, Hertfordshire and Greater London.
As president of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, Rahul’s reputation in aesthetic dentistry precedes him, but now he can share his knowledge within a business he has a vested interest in too. The opportunity to join Dentex came at the right time – when he wanted to pursue the things he cared about beyond clinical dentistry.
‘I needed a change,’ he admits. ‘I needed a new challenge in my life, and that’s exactly what joining Dentex has given me. That change has revitalised me, and I’m now using that energy to help other people.
‘There comes a stage in your career when you have so much knowledge you have to decide what you’re going to do with it.
‘You can keep it to yourself, and do nothing with it, or you can share it and help other people. Sharing that knowledge can help give you a purpose.’
Furthermore, that close collaboration means that practices are no longer having to make do with off-the-shelf solutions. Rahul explains: ‘We’re finding that we can now mentor people holistically – in clinical and non-clinical areas at the same time. ‘People are often trained in a very compartmentalised way, but now we can put everything together as one package. ‘What that means is that we can tailor everything we do. Every practice is unique, and the mentoring it receives should be too.’
Both Rahul and Mitesh are united in their praise for a business model that’s shaking up the profession in positive ways. ‘Sure, you get initial capital for becoming part of Dentex,’ says Rahul.
‘But what makes it exciting is that you’re going to continue growing after that point. You’re not just ‘sold’ and stopping there. ‘This has actually re-energised me and allowed me to carry on doing what I love in different ways.’
Mitesh too, is unequivocal about his support. He says: ‘I’ve been involved with the Dentex model since its inception and I can honestly say that it’s only going to get better. ‘There are a lot of misconceptions about how it works, partly because there’s no model like it in the UK.
We get lumped together with other corporates and I want that message to be completely clear – we’re not. ‘We’re bringing some of the advantages of being part of a bigger group with us, let’s make no bones about it. But there are some things about Dentex that no other group can offer. It’s a unique model.’