Welcome to the third edition of the 'Practical Guide to Compliance' series. This series is intended to act as informal guidance to dental teams working toward CQC compliance. The contents of these articles are based on personal opinion and interpretation of the CQC framework and other relevant legislation. Whilst the author has full confidence in the suitability and appropriateness of the information contained within these articles, the information shall not be regarded as fact and those requiring definitive information should consult the relevant governing body.
Outcome 3- Fees
This outcome is all about how you charge fees for your services. Although not one of the core 16 outcomes it is considered relevant to dentistry and it is important that you comply with it.
What do the regulations say?
People who pay for a service should know how much they have to pay, when and how to pay it, and what they will get for the amount paid.
-CQC Essential Standards
This should be one of the easier outcomes to comply with as most practices have been producing fee guides, written treatment plans and cost estimates for some time. However this guidance encourages you to take this a little further to comply with this outcome.
The first step towards complying with this outcome is to have a published fee guide and payment terms. This applies to both NHS and Private practices, if your patients are expected to pay for all or part of their treatment they need to know how much they will be required to pay before they go ahead with anything- this includes examinations, consultations and diagnostic tests.
Your fee guide should be comprehensive covering all the services and treatments that you offer, where it is not possible to provide a fixed cost for example a filling is usually priced by surface and in this instance you need to provide a fee scale for example £75 - £125.
Your payment terms should clearly state how and when the patient will be expected to pay. You should state what methods of payment are accepted for example cash, cheque and credit debit cards. If you offer finance or payment plans then some mention should be made to these. the payment terms should also make clear the patients obligations for example fees are due on completion of treatment or similar. It needs to be made clear when you expect the patient to pay your fees. Payment terms should also clearly state the consequences of late or non payment of fees agreed. You should also include details of how a patient would cancel their agreement for treatment once they had started the treatment and what proportion of fees may be payable.
When you are prescribing treatment you must provide the patient with details of the full cost in writing, this can be done by supplying patients with a written estimate detailing the cost of each treatment recommended. When providing estimates it is important to be as clear and transparent as possible, there is no requirement at the moment to itemise the individual fee components of treatment but in some cases this would be advisable for example when providing an estimate for Endodontic Treatment, if you are applying a surcharge to cover the cost of single use files this should be stated.
For more complex or high valued treatment it would be advisable to provide a written treatment plan which is a little more detailed than a standard estimate. Within this you could include your recommendations, associated fees and also include a section about any additional fees that may become necessary.
Within any estimates or treatment plans you must be explicitly clear of what is and is not included in the fee quoted for example if you are carry out a root canal treatment and you will be charging a fee on top for the filling this must be made clear, if you also plan to crown the root treated tooth months later the patient should be informed of the cost and an given an idea of when they should expect to pay the additional charges.
It is important to give costs for each stage of treatment and when each payment is due as the patient may wish to discontinue their treatment with you at any time and you need to make sure that they are clear about what costs are incurred up to that point.
Once you have determined the treatment needs of a patient and provided them with details of their treatment plan and costs it is vital they are given time to consider their options. Patients must freely agree to go ahead with treatment and it is important that they sign a copy of any estimates or treatment plans agreed and they should also be given a final copy of this signed document.
You must ensure that there is someone available to discuss the terms of any treatment plan with the patient should they request it. This person should have enough knowledge to answer any questions the patient may have.
Once a patient has entered into treatment and has agreed the fees you are required to:
· Provide a statement of account upon request
· Offer a receipt for all payments received
· Provide written details of any change in cost due to unexpected changes in the treatment plan
In order to implement all of the above into practice it is advisable to incorporate fees into your consent procedures. This will allow you to make sure that agreement to fees is being obtained and recorded effectively and provides you with an audit trail for monitoring compliance. Another way you can monitor compliance to this outcome is through a question in your patient survey to find out whether patients felt fully informed of the fees relating to their treatment.
Whilst this outcome is relatively simple in its requirements I believe it will evolve into something more in years to come. The Office of Fair Trading launched a market study into Dental fees in September 2011 and I see this report highlighting the large pricing inconsistencies between different practices, lack of clarity into what the fee covers and quite possibly the need for a more transparent approach to pricing. OFT plans to complete this report by March 2012 so we'll soon hear about their findings.
If you’d like to know more about how Practice Perfection can help you with CQC compliance please get in touch at email@example.com or call 07703627873
Today I have spent the day reviewing our practices performance for this year so far, comparing it to the previous year and looking at key information that can help us identify areas for improvement. This is something I do on a monthly basis but the purpose of today was to start the process of budgeting and forecasting for the next financial year.
With the end of the current financial year looming its a time to reflect on the past and plan for the future.
If you want to increase revenue and more importantly profits, this process is essential for success.
The budgeting process allows you to focus on what you want to achieve in the year to come. This could include the personal income you want to achieve, planning for projects requiring capital spend, introducing new revenue streams for example a new product or service or even the addition of another staff member, these are all things that need to be planned for both operationally and financially.
Does your practice plan for the future?
Do you have a written budget and financial forecast for the whole financial year?
Does your team know what you want to achieve and how you plan to achieve it?
Have you got a formulated marketing plan that ties into your financial forecast?
If you answered no to any of the above, start planning now!
Someone once told me 'what you monitor tends to improve' and this is so true in the case of budgeting. If you have a written plan to work to for the year and you review it on a regular basis with your team you all become more focussed on the achievement of this plan and you'll be amazed at the results of this increased focus.
In the difficult economic climate that we are currently in, this planning process has never been more important. I firmly believe that for a practice to succeed or even survive in today's economy you need to be switched on and on the ball with your numbers!
You may be asking yourself 'where do I start?', well we can show you and support you through the whole process email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how we can help, we'd love to hear from you.
Running a successful, profitable dental practice is enormously dependent upon not good but superior book management.
How do you manage your appointment book? Do you give it the attention it deserves or do you just open it up and hope for the best?
If you want to improve productivity and maximise the clinical time available in your practice then read on.....
The first step in superior book management is to operate a booking system which meets the needs of your individual practice.
Depending upon your practices main focus you need to create and implement a system that caters to it. For example if you're a well established general practice with a high number of loyal patients it would be wise to schedule specific slots for routine examinations to ensure there is a daily limit on the number of exams scheduled, leaving enough time in the day for more valuable treatments thus maintaining a good hourly/daily rate.
Before deciding how you want to structure your appointment book you must give some thought to several factors:
· What is your main focus?
· What would your ideal day look like?
· How much do you want to earn per day?
· Does your book tie up with anyone else, for example the hygienist?
The main aim of any book management system is to not only ensure there is room in your book for a full range of treatment but more importantly that your day is varied and productivity is maximised. There is nothing worse than a day filled with short, low value appointments, days like this leave you and your team feeling over worked and under valued, a full day of hard work ends up yielding little financial return.
Regardless of how you structure your system, you should make sure it incorporates some way to allow the following:
· Time for New Patients
· Time for Emergencies
· Time for Routine Examinations & Low Value Treatments
· Time for Advanced or High Value Treatments
It is important to involve your team in the design stage of a book management system, they can provide you with invaluable input that will really help the system succeed. They are also more likely to be supportive of the system as they will have a good understanding of what its all about and having been involved in the design they will really take ownership of it!
Once your system is in place you should stick to it, obviously some level of flexibility will be needed but on the whole it is important for everyone to understand that the system is the system and it should be followed.
The next stage in superior book management is to manage your system. You've trained your team and they all understand how it works and they are all working to it but having a system does not fill the space!
Book management should be PROACTIVE NOT REACTIVE. All too often practice teams REACT to gaps in the appointment, they are actively following up recalls, not handling cancellations effectively and are not pro-actively working to fill un-booked space ahead of time.
A good follow up system can transform book management and I believe all practices should adopt robust systems to track patients through the key elements of the patient journey, click here to read my previous post on follow up systems.
Set your team some targets specific to the appointment book, this could be based on utilisation of hours available, income yielded per day, x number of a specific type of appointment, set targets that are specific to what you want to improve and monitor the progress rewarding team members for success.
In summary, it is possible to unleash the potential of your appointment book but you must have good book management processes in place to maximise productivity. Your team must understand and support your book management systems and be proactive in filling gaps and handling cancellations.
At Practice Perfection we can help you improve your book management procedures, train your team and ultimately increase productivity! Get in touch to find out more email us at email@example.com or call 07703627873
In order to maximise your appointment book and develop amazing relationships with your patients your team need to master the art of follow up.
Follow up is something I cannot impress enough upon my team and my clients. I strongly believe that there should always be a next step and you should be the one in control. Success does not just happen it is something that takes hard work and dedication.
Every patient whether new or existing should be part of a system and everyone in the practice should know where they are in this system. A traditional recall system is not sufficient to maximise patient retention and it does not demonstrate first class level service to your patients. A robust follow up system is necessary to capture every step of your patient journey and ensure no-body falls through the cracks.
A multi-level follow up system captures patients from the moment they get in touch until the moment they leave your practice for good (which is hopefully never!).
A follow up system is a fundamental part of good practice management and will ultimately lead to higher performance and productivity as well as amazing client relationships.
With an effective follow up system patients feel important, cared for and that you really do have their best interest at heart.
I recommended you identify the key follow up points in your patient journey for example enquiries that have not yielded bookings should always be followed up, as should patients who have cancelled and not re-booked an appointment.
Having a good system is only the first step the most important part of making a follow up system work is ensuring everyone in the practice knows HOW it works. Follow up communications are worthless when the message is wrong, in fact they can be worse than worthless they can be harmful, patients can feel hounded and harassed and this impression will not help patient retention. Your team need to know how to communicate effectively to ensure patients understand the nature of the follow up communication and that it is intended as a tool for improved customer service and efficiency rather than to ‘fill the book’. It is vitally important to know and respect the patients contact preference, many patients don’t like phone calls they may prefer to communicate by email where possible and it is so important to offer a method of communication that the patient is comfortable with.
Scripting is an effective way to ensure your message is being received, identify with your team the need for a follow up system, examine your patient journey to determine appropriate points for follow up and agree a system. You can then work together to create procedures, scripts and even email or letter templates to assist in the process. Make sure your team is on board with the new system and practice with each other (yes the dreaded role play that we all love so much, but it really does work!) after all practice makes perfect.
If you’d like to find out more about evaluating and improving your administrative systems and increase productivity please firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.practice-perfection.co.uk
Welcome to the second edition of the 'Practical Guide to Compliance' series. This series is intended to act as informal guidance to dental teams working toward CQC compliance. The contents of these articles are based on personal opinion and interpretation of the CQC framework and other relevant legislation. Whilst the author has full confidence in the suitability and appropriateness of the information contained within these articles, the information shall not be regarded as fact and those requiring definitive information should consult the relevant governing body.
Outcome 2- Consent to Care & Treatment
What do the regulations say?
“Before people are given any examination, care, treatment or support, they should be asked if they agree to it”.
- CQC Essential Standards
Compliance to outcome 2 is all about making sure your patients are given the support and information to make an informed decision about their care, it requires you to have procedures in place to determine whether an individual lacks the competence to make a particular decision and for each member of the team to know what to do in this situation. For those that are considered competent, we need to be providing them with all the information relevant to their care this could include discussion of treatment options, information leaflets, videos or online information. We must make the patient fully aware of all advantages, disadvantages and alternatives for all treatment and ensure that they are fully informed before asking them to make any decisions.
Consent is not a new term in dentistry it is something we have all worked with for a long time but now is a good time to review your policies and procedures to make sure they are meeting the requirements of outcome 2 and any relevant legislation.
Through using the 4 stages of compliance method you can ensure that your practice and your team are covering all the bases for this outcome.
The first stage will see the creation and implementation of a solid consent policy, one that takes the Mental Capacity Act into consideration to ensure there are clear procedures in place for assessing competence and guidelines in place for dealing with a patient who is not considered competent.
Your consent policy should outline the procedure for gaining consent, how it is obtained and how it is recorded.
You should also have patient information available for all procedures, leaflets are a good option as they can be handed out to patients after a discussion to allow them to have a reference for what has been discussed. Other forms of information can also be used such as educational videos, handouts and directing the patient to an online source of information. Regardless of what information you provide and how you provide it, it is advisable to record that you have done so.
Consent forms are also a useful way to present information to patients as they will focus their attention to the important information such as potential risks or side effects that may alter their choice of treatment. It is important to remember that a signed consent form does not constitute as informed consent, these should be used as a means for providing information but not as the only way of confirming that the patient understands what has been said.
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 has a published code of practice which provides guidance to anyone who is working with and/or caring for adults who may lack capacity click here to download this document.
Dental Protection has produced a useful document on consent click here to download it. The GDC document ‘Principles of Patient Consent’ is also useful guidance click here to download it.
So now that you have laid the foundations for compliance to outcome 2 you can now move onto stage 2- train your team. Your team should undertake some training on Consent and the Mental Capacity Act to ensure they have a thorough understanding of the subject as this will help them apply the principles to their day to day work.
As a team you should agree the implementation of your consent procedures and also agree a consistent method of recording consent, this will allow for much easier monitoring of compliance at a later stage.
It is important that your team understand what is considered valid consent. All discussions with patients should be recorded with consent in mind, did you explain the procedure, did you invite questions, did you give satisfactory explanations, were all the patients questions answered, did you verbally confirm that the patient understood what had been said and most importantly did the patient agree to the procedure? These are all important questions that need to be applied to every treatment discussion.
So you’ve laid the foundations and you have trained your team, it’s now time to practice, practice, practice! Implement the procedures and the learning that has occurred and apply this to your daily work.
You are almost there, now that you have everything in place you must monitor and review to achieve ongoing compliance. This could involve audits of consent and patient records, team quizzes and spot tests or even patient surveys. The important thing is that you regularly measure the effectiveness of your procedures and make any necessary changes when things are not working. As part of this process it is important to stay abreast of any changes in legislation that may affect how you work.
In summary, in order to achieve compliance to outcome 2 we must respect a patient’s right to choose whether or not to have a dental procedure, we must assess a person’s competence to make a decision and their ability to understand information relating to their treatment. If a patient is considered incompetent to make a particular decision we must act in line with the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice to ensure we are supporting the patient and/or their carer to understand and make an informed choice. It is our obligation and duty to provide the patient with as much information as is appropriate and relevant and we must invite and answer any questions the patient may have. Gaining consent is not merely getting a signature on a form it is a process of communicating information to a patient about their needs and your recommendations. You must ensure that consent is volunteered and the patient is fully informed. It is vital that good records are kept on all matters concerning consent to care and treatment, consent should form a part of every single clinical record made. Last but not least monitor consent and regularly review the effectiveness of your procedures.
If you’d like to know more about how Practice Perfection can help you with CQC compliance please get in touch at email@example.com
Welcome to the first edition of the 'Practical Guide to Compliance' series. This series is intended to act as informal guidance to dental teams working toward CQC compliance. The contents of these articles are based on personal opinion and interpretation of the CQC framework and other relevant legislation. Whilst the author has full confidence in the suitability and appropriateness of the information contained within these articles, the information shall not be regarded as fact and those requiring definitive information should consult the relevant governing body.
Outcome 1: Respecting & involving people who use services
What do the regulations say?
"People should be treated with respect, involved in discussions about their care and treatment and able to influence how the service is run".
CQC 'The Essential Standards'
So what does this really mean? Outcome 1 is built around a patient centred approach to care, you need to be seen to be respecting the rights and choices of your patients and involving them in the service you provide. Patients individual needs and choices need to be considered and respected at all levels, this could range from respecting religious beliefs to individual lifestyle choices. Patients should be provided with adequate and relevant information to enable them to make decisions and should be supported to make the right decision for them. Practices should seek patient opinion and actively get them involved in the service on offer.
Now that we understand what is needed, you are probably asking yourself 'so how do we do it'?
Throughout this series you will hear me talking about 'the 4 stages of compliance', this is my method of introducing new ways of working into a team.
The 4 stages are as follows:
Stage 1- Laying the foundations- this involves creating new policies, procedures or working practices and publishing them within your team
Stage 2- Training your team- a written policy or procedure is not worth the paper it is written on if your team don't understand why it exists or what implications it has on their daily work. Training is a fundamental part of compliance and forms the foundation of good practice, your team are your biggest asset and you should continually invest your time and resources to ensure they are the very best that they can be.
Stage 3- Practice makes perfect- So you have a policy, you've done some training but now what? Practice, practice, practice! Everyone within the team needs to have adopted the new policy, procedure or working practice and should be carrying out their duties in line with any new rules or procedures.
Stage 4- Monitor & review- This is perhaps the most important aspect of the process of compliance. It is no good writing policies and training staff if you then go about your business without looking back. Surveys, audits, spot checks all of these things help identify gaps in the system and can highlight areas that need more attention.
The 4 stages of compliance allow you, as a team, to adopt new ways of working and really cement them into your daily life.
So where to start with Outcome 1? Why stage 1 of course!
As with any aspect of compliance there is a set of basic needs that must be met in order to start your journey towards compliance, these could include things like policies, procedures and training.
At the most basic level the following list gives some specific examples of things needed to achieve compliance with outcome 1:
· Equality & Diversity Policy
· Published Fee Guide & Payment Terms
· Data Protection Registration, Policy & Code of Practice
· Confidentiality Policy & Code of Practice
· Patient Information Leaflets
· Team Training
· Patient Survey Template
· Comments Box
· Clinical Record Keeping Policy
· Treatment Planning Policy
· Consent Policy & Procedures (e.g. consent forms)
· Audit Systems to monitor and manage the above
In order to implement any policy or procedure it is imperative to engage the team in the process from the start thus ensuring they adopt the new way of working and ongoing compliance on the issue. This could be done at a team meeting, you could discuss the need for a new policy or procedure and take on board suggestions and comments from the team, this way you are involving them in the project and encouraging them to play an active role in the change.
Once a new policy or procedure has been agreed, it should be written down and made accessible to all. Everyone in the practice must know about the new policy or procedure, they must understand what it is and why it has been put in place.
So your new policy is ready for use, this is the point where most practices fall down. We have a policy, it sits in a folder and we are all vaguely aware of its existence but it has little or no bearing on our day to day work. This is not compliance and having a nicely written out policy will not tick the CQC inspectors box when they come knocking at your door.
For a policy to have any value your team must firstly understand why it is needed, they must understand the implications of working to the policy and they must understand the consequences, for themselves, the practice and most importantly patients, of not complying with it.
To do this is simple, train your team. Use your team meetings to educate your team about a specific policy, make it interactive and fun, if necessary bring in external speakers to get the point across but above all make sure everyone is engaged and knows what it is all about.
Some ideas for monitoring the impact a certain policy or procedure is having on the service you offer could include patient or staff surveys, clinical and administrative audits, spot checks on records and my personal favourite- a team quiz. At your Team Meetings incorporate a 5 minute quiz covering a different compliance topic, the results of this quiz will really help to identify common areas for training and help team members grasp the importance of understanding the topic.
In summary, compliance to outcome 1 can be achieved by having some simple processes in place to ensure that patients are respected, treated fairly and consistently without discrimination. Patients will be actively involved in their care and treatment, given relevant and timely information in relation to their needs and will be supported to make decisions. Patients will be involved in the development and improvement of the service that you offer through the use of feedback and patient opinion. I cannot stress enough the importance of stage 4, monitor and review, this will ensure compliance is not only achieved but more importantly maintained.
If you'd like to know more about how Practice Perfection can help you with CQC compliance please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org
We all make some conscious effort to attract new patients to our door but what happens after they make contact with you?
As well as running Practice Perfection I also run a dental practice and in my experience this is one of the biggest challenges facing a practice.
Have you assessed how well you are handling enquiries, how quickly do you respond? What impression is that potential patient being given from the word go? Are your front of house team effectively communicating the value of your service to convert these enquiries into new patients?
This is such an important exercise and one that will ultimately win you patients! You need to know that every enquiry is being dealt with effectively and efficiently and that every single person that contacts your practice is given an amazing impression of what you have to offer!
If you’d like to find out more about evaluating and improving your patient experience please contact email@example.com or visitwww.practice-perfection.co.uk
The way a patient perceives your service could make or break the success of your business.
The patient experience is one of the most (if not THE most) important aspect of what your practice has to offer.
The patient experience covers every angle of a patients journey through your practice, from the moment they find out about you, how their initial enquiry is handled, their first and subsequent visits and every piece of communication that they receive from you.
We are in a 'service' industry, people are paying for a service and they will expect a good one.
So how do you measure and evaluate the service that your patients are receiving? Are your marketing strategies making you visible to potential patients and putting you ahead of the competition? Are your team handling new patient enquiries effectively? Are you communicating effectively with your customers? The most important question is are you providing a truly EXCEPTIONAL service?
There is no doubt that we are facing difficult times ahead in this struggling economy, with less disposable income patients are prioritising their spending and investing their money in a trusted, consistent service. It will be survival of the fittest and those practices that are custom focused and constantly striving to provide an exceptional service will prosper and grow.
What would you say if I told you it was possible to evaluate your Patient Experience through the eyes of a patient?
Practice Perfections 'Patient Experience Evaluation' allows you to see your service through the patients eyes. We will send a 'mystery patient' to assess your service and will provide you with a detailed report to highlight your strengths and weaknesses in specific areas. Our Patient Experience Evaluations are conducted by experienced dental professionals, people who know how it should be done. Our report comes complete with recommendations packed full of proven strategies for success.
In conjunction with our Patient Experience Evaluations we offer the added option of bespoke team and individual training to help you implement and train your team on our recommendations.
With the obligation to compliance in mind, we have designed our evaluations and reports to act as evidence towards CQC Outcome 1- 'Respecting & Involving people who uses the service'.
We offer a range of options from a simple telephone evaluation to a full patient experience evaluation. Prices start from as little as £49.99 and packages can be tailored to suit your needs.
Visit www.practice-perfection.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Today I have spent the day at a beautiful practice in Southampton. The practice is a busy Implant Referral Centre with a very small yet efficient team.
They asked me to visit them today to help them customise their practice management software to help make admin tasks more efficient and streamline systems for patient/referrer communications.
I have worked with the same practice management software for a number of years and despite having no formal training from the software provider I am not afraid to say I consider myself somewhat of a 'super user'. I can navigate my way around the software at great speed and can utilise it to it's full potential, setting up functions that many don't even know exist!
It continues to amaze me that most practices utilise their practice management software at its most basic function, but how would they know any different when there is a severe lack of training available on the subject.
Training from the software provider is great for new users and teaches you to the basic 'how to' of the programme but as far as advanced usage goes, there is very little provision.
What if I told you that your practice management software had the power to:
· Improve efficiency
· Improve customer relations
· Increase productivity
· Streamline internal marketing strategies
Wouldn't you want to know how to do this?
As Dentistry is becomes increasing commercial we are seeing an ever increasing amount of advertising and publicity relating to dental services. Equally, as competition increases and as patients are doing more ‘shopping around’ it is becoming necessary for practices to increase awareness of their brand.
As an industry bound by ethics there are several factors that should influence the nature and content of any advertisements, promotions or provision of information.
With effect from 1st March 2012 the General Dental Council have introduced some new rules for dental business’ to follow ‘Principles of Ethical Advertising’.
This blog post will introduce you to the requirements of this document and will help you make a start to make sure you are playing by the rules.
This guidance doesn't just apply to dentists, it covers all GDC registrants so if you are on the GDC register or producing information on behalf of a registrant read on...
As a registrant you have an over-riding responsibility to ensure that any advertisements, promotional items and information sources containing your name are correct, including your GDC registration number.
All advertising and sources of information should use accurate information that is updated regularly, using clear and simple language avoiding dental terminology that the general public may not understand.
Avoid making unsubstantiated claims, many practices out there make claims like ‘pain free dentistry’ how do you substantiate this statement? What evidence do you have to back up this claim? A simple survey of a patient’s perception of pain during treatment could give you this evidence but it must be collected regularly and consistently. Using statements like ‘we’ll give you the perfect smile’ without qualification, could be misleading and considered ambiguous. Achieving the perfect smile is possible in many different ways depending upon individual needs and for some people it may not be possible and imperfect compromises have to be made.
Avoid claims or statements intended or likely to create unjustified expectations. If your marketing promotes a fantastic patient experience, this must be delivered to each and every patient. If you offer services that promise a quick result for example ‘Straight Teeth in Weeks’, it is important within your advertising to mention that these treatments are not suitable for everyone and in some cases limited results will be seen. If the patient isn’t told this from the get go you have given them an unrealistic expectation.
Be clear about the nature of your service- is it NHS or Private or a mixture of both, be clear about your offering and make sure patients are not being mislead about what type of treatment they can expect to receive and the fees that might apply.
Many clinicians are now offering services that do not fall under the remit of traditional dentistry such as facial aesthetics or hygienists and therapists offering tooth whitening. When promoting these services and performing treatments that did not form part of your primary training you must be able to demonstrate that you have undertaken the necessary training in this area to achieve competence.
The guidance also lays out some rules for Dental websites. It is written in line with the Code of Ethics for Dentists in the EU for Electronic Commerce which covers the content of dental websites.
To view the guidance document click here.
In order to follow the new guideline rules on websites it is likely going to be necessary for you to modify your current website to include these additional requirements. You will also need to be able to make regular updates to reflect any changes in personnel, it is specified in the Ethics for Dentists in the EU document that a registrant who leaves the practice should be removed within 1 month.
Your website, as with any other promotional material, must not provide a comparison between the skills and qualifications of yourself and any other dental professional and should not suggest your skills and qualifications are superior to anyone else.
The term ‘specialist’ has been a real bone of contention for the GDC in recent years due numerous registrants referring to themselves ‘a specialist in...’ or a practice calling itself a ‘specialist practice’ when in fact they are not specialists. In order to refer to yourself as a ‘specialist’ you must be on one of the GDC’s 13 specialist registers. If you are not, it is not acceptable to refer to yourself as a specialist. Instead you can say ‘special interest in’ or ‘experienced in’ or ‘practice limited to’, the bottom line is that by incorrectly using the term specialist you are misleading the public into thinking you are something that you are not.
The above does not only apply to dentists, there are currently no specialist lists for DCP’s and on this basis the term must be avoided for example ‘specialist denture technician’ or ‘specialist implant nurse’. Regardless of what level of further qualification you have gained, unless you are a registered specialist you simply cannot refer to yourself as one, to do so would be viewed as misleading.
Gaining an honorary degree or professional fellowships and memberships are often prestigious achievements however listing letters after your name in recognition of these achievements for marketing purposes can be very misleading for patients. Patients do not always understand the meaning of these letters and they may view them as a reflection of additional skills and academic qualifications which may not be the case. Keeping things simple and restricting the use of letters after your name to those that are meaningful to the general public will ensure you are working in line with these rules.
In summary, with any advertising or promotional information you produce for patients you must keep ethics in mind at all times. You must produce information that is truthful, honest, easy to understand and promotes the best interests of the patient.
Welcome to the Blog!
I want to help you build the practice of your dreams, I hope you find insight and inspiration in my blog.