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Would you give your own practice a five-star review?


Practice plan regional support manager Sarah Barnard invites you to take a step back and adopt the role of your own Trustpilot or Google reviewer to see whether your practice really is worth five stars.

As so many of us now search for products and services online, reviews have become an important indicator of quality. So, a five-star review, where everything was excellent, is the ultimate goal.

We’re all aware of the problems with patient access. The stories of people driving 60-plus miles to be able to get an appointment with an NHS dentist are so common now that they’ve stopped being news. As more dentists hand back their NHS contracts, sadly, the situation is bound to get worse.

However, a side effect of the shortage of NHS practices has been the increase in people seeking treatment as private patients. Many are now resigned to the fact that the only way they will get to see a dentist is to either join a practice’s membership plan or become a pay-as-you-go private patient.

Staying ahead of the competition

With so many dentists leaving NHS dentistry behind, the competition for patients is likely to become stiffer over the next few years. So, it’s important to ensure your practice has a good reputation to attract new patients and retain the ones you already have.

A good place to begin is by casting a critical eye over your practice and the service you offer to your patients. Look at the practice as if you were about to review it for Trustpilot or Google. Start with the outside of the building. Does it look inviting? Is your signage in good condition? Does everything seem well cared for? First impressions count so if dirty windows and faded signage are not the look you’re going for, it’s as well to do something about it.

While you’re studying the outside of your practice, consider your branding. If you’re a well-established practice is your branding still a reflection of the type of practice you are these days? Things change over time and what might have looked right a decade ago may not be a fair reflection of your practice now.

Next, focus your reviewer’s eyes on your reception and waiting areas. Is your reception area truly welcoming? Is your décor still looking clean and fresh or could things do with a bit of a makeover? What about any posters or notices on the walls? Are they looking a little dull and dog-eared? Be as honest as possible as this exercise is about uncovering areas that need improvement, not merely to criticise. If you find aspects that need changing, then your review will give you the opportunity to change the things you’ve spotted that aren’t up to scratch.

Use your other senses as well as your eyes. It may seem strange but consider how your public areas smell. Research has shown that the sense of smell is responsible for 75% of the emotions we feel daily. Certain smells engender particular emotions.

For example, generally lavender, basil, citric and cinnamon are relaxing fragrances, whereas peppermint, thyme and rosemary are invigorating. If you just want patients to feel welcome, citrus scents such as lemon, orange and grapefruit are fresh and universally popular.

What about the seating in your waiting room? Are they functional plastic stackable ones or do they offer a comfortable place for someone to sit while they’re waiting to be seen? Do you have screens or TVs in your waiting area? What do they display? Would you be comfortable if you had to wait in that room for any length of time? Review all your fixtures and fittings as part of the process and consider what they say about your practice.

Review the patient experience as a whole

When you’ve finished reviewing your environment, consider how patients are treated while they’re with you. Do they receive a warm welcome when they arrive or are they confronted by a harassed receptionist who’s trying to do three things at once? How do they get to and from your surgeries or treatment rooms? Are they escorted by someone, or do you rely on an intercom or digital sign and expect them to find their own way there? It’s about reviewing the whole experience, not just the look and feel of the practice.

This type of review needn’t just be the responsibility of the practice manager or owner. Any member of the team could carry out this exercise. You may even want to enlist the help of a critical friend, who could just as easily be a friend of yours who is prepared to be critical, rather than a fellow member of the profession, as is usually the case! Reviewers (our patients) come from all walks of life so it’s good to get different people’s take on things.

Being your own reviewer is something that cannot be regarded as a ‘one and done’ process. If you’re serious about making sure your practice is the best it can be, then an honest appraisal of the practice should be carried out regularly.


Why not give it a go and see whether you could honestly award your practice five stars?

If you’re considering your options away from the NHS and are looking for a provider who will hold your hand through the process while moving at a pace that’s right for you, why not start the conversation with Practice Plan on 01691 684165, or book your one-to-one NHS to private call today: practiceplan.co.uk/nhsvirtual.

For more information visit the Practice Plan website: practiceplan.co.uk/nhs.

Attending Dentistry Show Birmingham 17-18 May? Join us on stand K50!



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