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Dentists Who Invest

Podcast Episode

Full Transcript

Dr James : 

Welcome back to the Dentists Who Invest podcast. Another exciting episode today, where we’re here to talk about data and how most of us can’t be ours to mine it and do anything about it. Pardon my friends, I think you’ll agree with me, right, david?

Dr David: 

Yeah, definitely. I mean, there is a like that as well.

Dr James : 

Most of us probably look into it, but actually it’s where all the good stuff lies and it’s also a gold mine in our flipping business. And, by the way, by the way, that is me speaking from personal experience, because the second that I started to take a lot more of an obsession and an interest in what I do in terms of the data, then well, it’s only natural that life became easier for me and the numbers followed a little bit as well. But anyway, I am very pleased to be joined by David Holmes, who is a Dennis as well and a big believer in the power of data.

Dr David: 

Yeah, well, thank you for having me, james. It’s a real pleasure. I mean absolutely. Yeah, data. Data is the future, big data, as we used to call it, and now going into AI. But I think that really how we can use data and automation to help us run our practices and be more profitable and have more time to spend with our family. I was just telling. James, I had to had to lock away my four kids in order to sit here for an hour with you, james.

Dr James : 

All that extra time with our kids and family is great, isn’t it Right?

Dr David: 

there, it’s just what we want, but no it really is, and at the heart of that is getting data to work for you and your teams and your business. That’s where my journey began, you know, into business and working in tech, so definitely data is a key topic.

Dr James : 

Lovely, joffy, and you’re, of course, a Dennis as well, right, david?

Dr David: 

Yes, yeah, you’re probably here. I’m Australian dentist. You know I used to live in Bondi with beaches and things. Now I live in London. I went via the US to do some specialist training and implants and reconstructive work and now I run a work in a practice here in London as well. But my day job is more working in data and helping dental practices. Dental owners, associates, you know, benefit from using data in their business.

Dr James : 

Very, very, very cool. And what inspired this voyage into learning about data and its positive impact on your life? Was there a key epiphany moment? Yeah, do you?

Dr David: 

know what, james, I actually have a true story. A true story was I saw this book and it was called the book, the big book of big data, and you can probably Google it and it’s this enormous picture book. Basically, you know and it was, must have been 10 years ago, nine years ago now, when big data was this new concept. You know how data was the next big thing we were told back then. You know, it was going to improve our lives, and so I got this book and I started looking at it and I really just, you know, I could see there was something in here and we just weren’t using it at the time, particularly in dentistry. We were all about scalpels and the latest injection, the latest material, the you know some, some new systems that’s going to make our life easier. And meanwhile, there was all this data that was being generated and, you know, google was starting to make money from it. Facebook at the time was starting to make money from it, but we as clinicians weren’t able to make the most of it and that got my, that got me interested in and it’s a data and tech and, yeah, it’s been a. It’s been a wild ride since and it seems to only be, you know, continuing and getting getting more and more exciting.

Dr James : 

Very cool, and I’m a big believer in reading books on things that are not even necessarily obviously related to your vocation, because if you think about it, yeah, you don’t know what you’re going to find, and yeah, it might not necessarily be linked irrelevant but at the same time, it’s also where the best golden nuggets are found too, because most people can’t be bothered to do it because it is things that they’re not necessarily, that they don’t necessarily associate with their career path or they don’t necessarily associate with what’s immediately in front of them. So, yeah, it’s a little bit of a voyage into the unknown, but it’s also where the coolest stuff is found. The coolest treasure is undiscovered, the coolest treasure is off the beaten path, so to speak. What do you think?

Dr David: 

Yeah, look, man, I think I think you’re right. I mean, I always thought of being an entrepreneur as trying to make yourself a bit of an outlier. The more of an outlier you make yourself, the more you are doing something unique and your perspective becomes more unique and you’re able to see then opportunities that others aren’t necessarily seeing and then hopefully build a unique perspective, as I’m sure you are now, james, with your following. Yeah, so definitely, looking for oddball books or things that aren’t usually on your priority list is a good way to do that, to sort of discover a different perspective.

Dr James : 

I heard something recently, and it was now. I might just totally butcher this, but it was something along the lines. In fact, I’m pretty sure this was the quote. Sadness comes Part of the reason why we get sadness in our life is because we feel like we’re stuck and we have a lack of options. But there’s only really. In reality, there’s thousands of options. Right, if you have the eyes of a dentist, you can see opportunities to help someone by looking in their mouth. Right, if you’re not a dentist, you’re never going to be able to see that. Right, if you’re a joiner, you go to someone’s house. You see something isn’t quite working right or connected as it should be. You see opportunities to help them. So, really, your knowledge gives you the pair of eyes that you have. So what will give you a better pair of eyes to see more options is knowledge.

Dr David: 

Yeah, yeah, I mean.

Dr James : 

Cuz. It just makes us accountable in any given moment, where, when we feel like that, actually if we just go and learn about other things, we’ll be able to perceive opportunities where others can’t. I thought that was awesome.

Dr David: 

Yeah, look, I like that. I like that. I mean, so, bring, bring it back to data. It’s you know. Data for me is something that you know people think it’s about you know zeros and ones, or even calling it big data. But one of the ironies for me is that actually getting it down to you know one, one data point, one, one metric, one score there can have any really transformational impact on your business or on the way you you live your life. You know it might be discovering what your you know your real tax rate is, for example. That might be something that all of a sudden makes you think, oh well, maybe I’m gonna do something about that. For example, you know and and it’s been fascinating for me to see how you know in order to make data work for you, you have to boil it down to very digestible, individual numbers. You know single data points and whether you’re measuring quality or you’re measuring output from the business, or you know it’s Anyway, that’s where the opportunity lies, because when you make it digestible and simple, you can, then you can get. You know, you can get that transformational change, that, that impact of that data source or that data set into your business, into your life. And yeah, I’m sort of waxing lyrical now, james, I’m following your lead, but tell me if I’m, I’m making this in the right direction.

Dr James : 

All good, 100% in the right direction, because you’re clearly passionate about data, which is flipping great. So tell me. Obviously you went on this voyage into the unknown a little bit, so to speak. Yeah, you followed your curiosity very cool thing to do whenever it came to this big book on big data. I believe it was called right.

Dr David: 

Yeah, well, I’m gonna have to Google that, make sure that’s the name.

Dr James : 

But it was a big book and it was about big data and it would have lots of pictures anyway, yeah, I mean you read the book and then you thought to yourself Wow, there’s some stuff in here that’s really valuable and relevant to dentistry. Do you recall what those things were specifically, or the things that you find most useful with relevance to your vocation as a dentist?

Dr David: 

Well, I mean, look that. It’s been a constant learning period for me over the last 10 years since I got involved in data and technology and you know I just mentioned a minute ago, you know, the quality outcomes, quality metrics. There’s actually a huge movement in dentistry around quality metrics and outcomes. It’s it’s very, it’s typically right up in the in the academic field and it’s very rarely brought down into the day-to-day Way of running our businesses. I mean, the friends and family test is one, one sort of output of that, and that sounds like a single, no too simple to consider as a data point. But actually when you scale that up and you ask every patient or quality outcomes and quality metrics, you get a, you get a big data set and from that you can really drive change. So you know, that’s probably been the biggest one. But, like I say, boiling it down to a single, single metric rather than Just looking for the masses, of masses of data to look through, Brilliant.

Dr James : 

But you, but you, but you, but you. So around about this time we are principal or an associate.

Dr David: 

I was converting, so I started. I started my technology business at the same time as Getting out of being an associate and starting a dental practice like a squat dental practice with my wife, so we did the two things at the same time, which led to her doing a lot of work in the clinic and the management of that while I was running this tech business. Okay, brilliant, and Dennis out there who will be listening this podcast.

Dr James : 

A lot of them just Are not familiar with their numbers. And I say that with love, you know, it’s because I see you and it’s because we’ve got so many things to think about, like we’ve got the patients think about, we’ve got the staff to think about, go home, and I think about all of this stuff. In your experience, what is the easiest way that they can begin to grasp the numbers, or why should they start to grasp the numbers? What? What can they implement in terms of change that will allow them to better understand the data Change that will allow them to benefit from that and also reasonably and feasibly be aware that they can begin to learn more about that area?

Dr David: 

I think there’s a lot of More and more people are seeing this, but there’s a lot of great reports that you can get out of your practice management software. Most of the practice management software providers will create standard reports for you on KPIs. Whether you’re working in the UK or US or in Australia, they all have the same thing. And really getting into a routine of looking at those is looking at them with your team If you’re a practice signer, or if you’re on your own, if you’re an associate it’s the same thing and setting yourself goals and targets to go against those reports, whether they’re daily income reports or daily KPIs production reports. I think that’s probably one of the most impactful ways to get going with data, but they’re sort of the more obvious ones, the less obvious ones looking into how you can create a voice of customer or get your patients telling you how you can do a better job, but at what you’re doing, how you can serve them better. So it’s all about looking for the hidden gems to allow you to be a better dentist, a better clinician and ultimately have more time and greater revenue for yourself and your family.

Dr James : 

And obviously that’s pertinent to both principals and associates, of course.

Dr David: 

Yeah, absolutely. The thing is I remember when I was an associate I didn’t know to look into these reports so much. I was focused very much on the monthly report which told me how much I earned minus lab and then what was net for me, and really that doesn’t give you that’s sort of very one-dimensional, isn’t it? I mean, it’s great we own a good living as a dentist, but it doesn’t give you much of a sense of well, a how your patients are feeling about you and B what you can do to improve, to make yourself more comfortable. I remember when I was an associate I was always nervous about getting in, I don’t know, messing up. Let’s say I’m someone who went to work quite nervously at times. I started as a clinician very young and probably that is for that reason that I went to the US to study and gain more knowledge and skills so I could be more comfortable as a clinician. But really a lot of that data was there in my fingertips. Our patients despite what the media will say about us, our patients really do like us as people. They might not like going to the dentist, but they certainly like us as people and so getting involving your patients in your development is a really I think it’s a really important part of how we develop as clinicians and really about making our life more interesting and simpler.

Dr James : 

And what benefits have you seen from exploring the data more apart from the bottom line, which is the first one that everybody thinks of right?

Dr David: 

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean look, data is data is. We’re all the time we’re generating data. We’re always creating. You know whether we’re using our phones or we’re going on our practice management software. We all know that. But the important areas for running a dental business are about retaining your patients, so keeping them coming back more frequently. Acquiring new patients is another important area. On how we can use data and automation, I probably expand it towards automation as well. So getting our practice management software to do more to run our life and run our patients and our practices, that’s sort of a key element. The data can sit there, but then you need to connect that and get it working for you.

Dr James : 

That makes sense.

Dr David: 

Rather than just having it sit there. You know you want to have systems that are automating and and using that data to contact your patients, to tell you when you’ve got an issue to you know just something more that you can rely on. So it’s more of a. It’s more of a support to you and the way you operate and the way you run your business the right way. You are as a clinician and I think it’s true, whether an associate or a or a an owner. You know connecting into that and getting involved with that only makes your life simpler, gives you more time, yeah.

Dr James : 

Well, it’s the trio that I always talk about and I’ve mentioned in the podcast before or at least I think I have but the big, the big trio in terms of being able to reduce your workload automate, delegate or eliminate it. The three eights. The three eights on the automations yeah, I love that. Yeah, it’s so good. You know, you know that little filter. Here’s a really, here’s a really easy way you can apply it to your life. So here’s a really cool way that you can apply that into your life the automate, delegate, eliminate. Someone told me this once and they they run a company, a quite a well known whitening company in the UK, and they were like James. Obviously, when you grow past a certain level, you want to do less rather than more. So if you find yourself working every single hour of the day, you’re probably doing something wrong. You probably spent too much time doing low leverage tasks. So when you get to the end of the day, right on the 10 things that took the most time throughout the course of your day, look at each one of those things and see if you can delegate one of those things or at least a component, delegate, automate or eliminate at least a component or the entirety of one of those things. And he said to me you do that enough times. Your days get way freer and your way more productive, which I thought was cool, yeah.

Dr David: 

I love that. I’m going to use that. That’s the creation. That’s some great wisdom.

Dr James : 

I mean I completely agree with that.

Dr David: 

That sounds like my MO. That’s what I’m constantly trying to convince people to do more automation, and I mean these days now, delegation used to be about delegate humans. That’s one of the amazing things that we’re going through. We were talking about inflection points before we started the podcast, but we’re at an inflection point now where you can delegate to automation. You can take something and, yes, you can have an automation going on, but then itself and also the responsibility that can be partially delegated to that automation or to the intelligence that sits alongside that automation. So I mean, I don’t know where we’re going to take that next, but there’s going to be. Yeah, anyway, that’s a very cool concept.

Dr James : 

Cool. To follow on from that, you were talking about the automate of the trio, so to speak. So what are the ways that we can look into automate and part of what we do as Dennis?

Dr David: 

Well, I mean, these days, there are more and more tools that combine data sources with automation and AI and ultimately, what they are is the intelligence is a flat. The automation is something’s happening on a regular, routine basis, whether it’s contacting your patients to make sure they’re okay or whether it’s with the aligners. There’s more and more technologies that are monitoring alignment, treatment and attachment to that automation, which is collecting data on your behalf. That’s the automation. What we’re starting to do now is delegate the responsibility to monitor the results of that automation to smart technology, to AI, if you like. And there’s what I would call the flag. So someone’s going through a line of treatment invisible line and there’s a technology that’s monitoring the movement of their teeth and then a flag comes out and tells you this patient has an issue. But you only get a flag if they’re having an issue. You don’t need to. You know you’re delegating the responsibility for that. I’m not saying, you know, I’m not trying to promote that, but it’s definitely what’s coming down the line. And it’s the same way when you’re monitoring patients after treatment to make sure they’re comfortable, to make sure they’re happy with their treatment, to make sure they’re rebooked. You know, only when there’s a flag does there’s a system tell you what you should be doing next. And yeah, there’s really something that the more we can use systems like that, you know, the easier life becomes, the more we can rely on our systems and our technology to support us. Yeah, I think it’s really. There are just so many examples coming down the pipeline in dentistry, so it just, yeah, it’s a very exciting area. Yeah, and sort of identifying that that opportunity is what led me to start follow up in the first place. You know, I had a patient who had a difficult surgery and I wanted to speak to her regularly to understand her pain and how she was recovering, and I had the idea where, you know, some kind of automation should be checking on her pain scores and then flagging only when there’s an issue. And then it just they just sort of snowballed from there. You know, once we identified that we could automate taking care of patients, automate the TLC phone call after their visit. When we link that then to business growth, so what I mean by business growth, that’s things like getting them to rebook their appointments, getting them to leave online reviews Google reviews have become so important the feedback we just realized that we had this great mix. And so you know that was that was eight years ago. It’s been a, it’s been a labor of love, but things are really turning in our favor now and, since the pandemic, more and more people are wanting to engage remotely with their customers and use data and use automation to create smart, you know, engaging patient pathways and it’s just, it works really well. So, yeah, no, I’ve been, I’ve been very, very fortunate to have that insight of combining care with business growth and how that can. Then, you know, just gives you a peace of mind as a clinician, knowing all your patients have checked on it’s you know follow up is a sometimes I describe it as automating the TLC phone call. Have you ever done the TLC phone call, james, where you know you do a surgery or you do a big filling and then you call the patient just to make sure they’re okay? We all do that, right, you know, and we do it because we know the patients love it and it turns out they do, and so when you automate that step, you delegate that. You know, because it’s why I love this automate delegate limits. It’s so cool because that really is what what follow up here does it. It automates that checking on your patient to make sure they’re okay and that just gives you a huge peace of mind knowing that every patient has been checked on. You don’t have to ask your receptionist or your nurse did you follow up that patient? Are they okay? Have you heard from this person? It’s all there, you know, nicely triaged for you in you know, using data, using flags, using automation, and it just tells you when there’s something that needs to be done. And then all the time it’s creating getting your patients to read book, getting you more Google reviews, and it just, it just works. So I am definitely a fan of automate, delegate, eliminate. That is definitely something. I’m very grateful to have learned that from you, james. But yeah, look, I think and and you know it’s really where where it just gives us, in the end, that peace of mind. You know the practice is being run well, you know the patients are happy and comfortable, and that really gives you peace of mind as a clinician. I mean so when I had that original insight of using that automation and delegation and I didn’t think of it in those terms that sort of led me down this path of starting a technology business and doing less clinical dentistry, but strangely, I still really enjoy my clinical dentistry. I think there’s so many technologies coming along. There’s a lot there, you know, with the data, the AI, the scanning technologies, all of these, the digital workflows. There’s just so much new technology. But definitely I am a big proponent of data and automation. And automating, delegating and eliminating make your life easier, so yeah, that’s the official sign back from the podcast.

Dr James : 

automate delegate eliminate.

Dr David: 

I can’t remember where it is, is it?

Dr James : 

really.

Dr David: 

I think, so I quite like it.

Dr James : 

I just it actually just popped in my head. I was like oh yeah, that thing, let me bring it back.

Dr David: 

Well, it’s absolutely that and it’s amazing, it’s just plugging. Your automation is just plugging the data that comes out of your practice management software and any other software that you use and connecting that data and automating actions that come off triggers from that. That’s the automation part. And then when you add the layer of smart technology, so with follow-up, that’s where we read the messages that come back from your patients and alert you if there’s a problem. If someone’s got a high pain or they’ve got an unusual response after they’re filling, we have different pathways that are specific to the treatment that they’ve had. And that all comes from data. That all comes from going into the practice management software and reading what treatment the patient had the day before. We put that through our algorithm to identify the priority that needs to be followed up, make sure the patient’s okay, only if there’s an issue. That’s the delegating. You’re delegating that task, that concern to technology, and of course you can still use your phone and call patients. This is not, it’s never. That’s the eliminate. That’s the tricky part. I’m not sure technology is quite at the eliminate yet. It’s still a hand hole. It’s still about supporting us, but it is. I don’t think as dentists we’re gonna get eliminated. That’s a definite. But, it definitely makes our life easier. It definitely gives us much more time. Getting tons of online reviews gets you more new patients from increasing your SEO. It all leads back to giving you more time and peace of mind as a clinician and then more revenue profits.

Dr James : 

Eliminating the task of replying to your patients is basically where you just don’t respond to them, which we are officially not endorsing. I just like to make that clear. That’s right. That’s right. I just like to make that very clear.

Dr David: 

I mean, that’s absolutely true. Our system creates suggested replies, but it does make it easier for you. So, rather than you having to type out the same thing, because patients are often asking the same question, one click prompt will tell you well, would you like to do this? And obviously then we do delegate that to our reception teams or our management teams and they do it on our behalf. So yeah, very cool, we’re like-minded here, james, we’re on the same page.

Dr James : 

Love that. Well, it’s a business thing, isn’t it? It’s like you do to excel and continue down that road. You have to think about these things past certain points. At least that’s what I find, anyway. How do you think that AI, the progress of AI, will impact all of these things that we spoke about just a moment ago? Do you think that we will see a growing shift towards allowing AI to handling our patients? That’s probably a given, really. At this stage, it’s more just when rather than if.

Dr David: 

I mean, you know one of the I mean stepping out of dentistry for a minute. One of the biggest breakthroughs in AI recently was generative AI. So that’s the chat GPT phenomenon. If you’ve heard of that and you know that’s really that’s going to have a huge impact on this, where chat GPT comes in and helps you formulate, you know, create content and engaging in the way you speak to your patients. Oh God man, you know, and I just-. But then AI comes in. So many other parts of this. You know whether it’s generating, scanning, suggested ways of building crowns, whether it’s monitoring your patients when they’re having a busy line. I mean, it’s just it’s kind of endless. So I’ve got my computer beeping now, james, and it’s kind of throwing me. I don’t know where it’s coming from, so we’re going to have to sort of ignore that.

Dr James : 

It’s cool. We can’t hear anything at this end, so we’re all good. Okay, good, we’re all good. David, listen, it’s been really kind of you to give up your time today to come and talk to the Dentistry and Drafts podcast. If anybody listening wants to find out more about you, where are the best off-gain touches you?

Dr David: 

They can check out our website, wwwfollowappcar. That’s A-W-P like WhatsApp. Feel free to click on the demo. We can send you out a demo. Or, if you want to get in touch with me, davidhomesfollowappcare. We’d love to hear from you, cool.

Dr James : 

It’s always cool to hear about entrepreneurial journeys from dentists. As, in dentists who have went on entrepreneurial journeys, I feel that there are a lot of dentists out there who just don’t think that that’s possible while still fulfilling your commitments to dentistry, which is why I love giving a platform to these sorts of things on the Dentistry and Drafts podcast. When I say there are dentists out there who don’t think that’s possible, that was once me, once upon a time, which is why I think it’s so important to share this stuff. David, as I say, real pleasure to have you on. We will get you back and share at some stage.

Dr David: 

Much love and we’ll speak soon. Thanks so much, James. Take care Bye.

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