Innovation can be applied to dental practice in many ways. However, we often overlook it as the means to enhance business value directly.
In the world of dentistry, we typically associate innovation with development in a technology or treatment technique.
Looking at innovation this way creates a perception that the power for innovation is in the hands of someone else, i.e. external to the practice.
But could we be missing the point of innovation?
I feel we could be.
As business owners, we often have our faces pressed up hard against the window of our practice.
That proximity – or closer perspective – means we could overlook opportunities to innovate.
It could also mean we discount the value of innovations we’re already making within the practice.
Taking a step or two back, can create a wider vision that reveals innovation possibilities you never considered.
What is innovation?
Innovation is defined as the introduction of new things or methods.
Businessdictionary.com defines it as:
“an idea that must be replicable at an economical cost and satisfy a specific need. [innovation] involves deliberate application of information, imagination and initiative. In business, innovation often results when ideas are applied to further satisfy the needs and expectations of customers.”
I don’t know about you, but I think this is good stuff to know.
Innovating in our practice is important. Even more so now with disruption caused by factors outside our industry, much of which is beyond our control.
In the face of change, what we do have control over is our response to these factors. And this is where an openness to innovation can pay dividends.
How do you bring innovation to a dental practice?
As humans, we’re inclined to stick to the familiar.
Deviating to what’s different? Not so much.
Even if we know different is good for our business or others – for example, our patients – there’s a possibility we might resist change arising out of innovation.
Getting around that resistance is easier than you think. And chances are, you’re already doing it.
Putting aside the innovations in technology and treatment techniques, there are simple ways to innovate within your dental practice.
Don’t aim for perfect. Strive for prolific instead.
When you’re looking to get things done in your business, perfectionist tendencies can hold up progress (although they’re wonderful in a treating dentist).
In innovation terms, this means ‘having a go’, rather than waiting for perfectly right.
In practical dental business terms, it could mean different things.
It could mean putting together that email marketing campaign to connect with new patients, even if you don’t know how it will be received.
Or implementing that new standard operating procedure, even if you’re not one hundred percent clear on every step.
It could even mean introducing a new service that provides a more integrated level of care to patients. Even if you’re not sure of what the uptake will be.
My coaching clients have heard me say “prolific beats perfect” many times.
It’s a mantra I live by.
While action must be underpinned by strategy, it’s through the process of doing, we discover ways to innovate.
Look outside dentistry. Swipe and deploy.
As counter-intuitive as it feels, looking outside dentistry can be a good place to discover new ways of doing things that could work in your dental practice.
It’s why another maxim I live by is ‘swipe and deploy’.
Swipe and deploy means you take what others do well and apply it in your own business.
That’s how I came to focus on marketing in dentistry.
Apart from my own interest in marketing, studying what others do means I see what could be relevant for me.
Very often, it is through this act of bringing outside thinking to your practice that innovation occurs.
In my podcast interview with Katherine Maslen we touched on this very thing.
Katherine is owner of Brisbane Natural Health, a clinic providing naturopathy and other alternative treatment modalities to patients.
What’s different about her approach is she uses a membership model.
Packaging up treatments and having patients pay for them under a recurring membership model is an innovation in that industry. However, many industries have used this model successfully.
The model wasn’t perfect from day one, however by making this step change, Katherine and her team took a big leap forward. They also added value to her business.
Now they continue making evolutionary innovations, refining what they do to deliver the highest level of quality patient care.
Undoubtedly, it took time, persistence and a few hiccups along the way. That’s what innovation looks like.
Borne out of the desire to do things better, innovation can be the game changer, adding tangible value to your business.
Look at what’s in front of you. Do that better.
It might sound like I’m stating the obvious, but humans have a knack of overlooking what’s right in front of them.
Innovation in your dental practice simply means you look for what can be done better now.
Chances are, you’re sitting on a trove of innovation treasure. And it doesn’t all reside with you as the practice owner.
Often our team have within them the seeds of innovative ideas.
Working on the ground and in the practice, your team is perfectly positioned to innovate.
I know as a graduate dentist, I was full of ideas. I like to think I still am.
While some of my ideas may not have been world-beating, as an employee, I was still thinking about how things could be done better.
If you have even one team member who has ideas, be prepared to listen – and act.
In that person, you may discover the seeds of innovation that can add value to your business.
And some final thoughts…
Change in our industry calls us to think out of the box and find new and different ways of doing things.
Innovation that creates value in business doesn’t need big changes.
The seeds of innovation can be found both inside and outside your business. Look for them.
Incremental improvements – even one percent better – will show up as value. For you, your patients and your business. Do one percent consistently and it starts to add up.
Want to make 2018 your best year yet?
Why not join me and other dentists who are growing and scaling their practices at my next event, Masterplan 2018: Preparing to Win in Brisbane on 23-24 November 2017. We’d love to see you there.