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Knowledge is power?
According to a survey of dental practices by WhatClinic, Bournemouth is the most expensive city in the UK to have a private dental check-up, costing £47 on average. If you go to the website you’ll find that those practices which have their fees on display range from £200 for a new patient consultation to free of charge. The website Moneywise, which picked up on this information, compares Bournemouth to Birmingham; the latter comes out the cheapest at an average of £23.
Moneywise compares a few more treatment items across the UK and they do seem to be representative. For instance, it says that Southampton is home to the UK's cheapest dental implants at £928, whilst the most expensive average is in Cambridge, at £2,393. Emily Ross, director of WhatClinic, is quoted as saying: "If some of these prices are hard to swallow, the positives to take away from this research are the potentially huge savings to be made by shopping around."
This is the power of the internet! For those of us who grew up without this universal resource, ‘shopping around’ meant seeing what price competing grocers were selling carrots for, within the same high street. We would not have questioned what local professionals were charging for services. In fact, my parents would have mortified if I had chosen to go to a different dentist than our ‘family practitioner’.
Not professional life as we know it Jim!
So what does this mean for us? The general public has a powerful tool at its fingertips. This modern world is consumer-led, and the ability to compare prices means that healthcare is becoming more and more price competitive. However, gaining cheaper treatment can be a short-term benefit, as we all know that ‘you get what you pay for’! Quality does vary, although it shouldn’t, and cost-cutting will cause corner-cutting. In some ways, and I hate myself for saying this, the CQC will have a rising role in policing the effect of competition.
The biggest loser in this will eventually be the small independent practice, as they are less likely to stay competitive alongside the larger corporate chains. What the public does not realise is that competition eventually drives down choice!
Using compliance support services, like Quality Compliance Systems, will be an increasingly important way of keeping abreast of standards and guidelines in a competitive world.
However, even the comparison sites have not lost sight of outcomes, as Emily Ross, of WhatClinic, warned that price shouldn't be the most important factor when choosing a clinic: "Read patient reviews and find a practitioner you feel comfortable with, as this can make all the difference when it comes to those much-dreaded fillings. Be wary of special offers and discounts and put your oral hygiene at the forefront of your decision making."
Good advice Emily!
Dr John Shapter – QCS Expert Dental Contributor