Espire Dental - Denver, CO | Adam Jury, DDS; Jen Derse, DDS; Brett Levin, DMD; Brandon Hall, DDS; Robert Linder, CEO
Espire Dental is a modern example of a luxurious, patient-centric dental practice that has embraced a unique business model. It’s a multi-site practice that focuses on high-touch, high-quality patient experience using top-of-the-line technology. The difference is that this innovative practice has four doctor-owners who have joined forces with a corporate partner that supports expansion with infrastructure and resources. Together, they plan to continue growing their brand where “excellence in dentistry meets luxury hospitality.” Right now, that goal has been adjusted to accommodate the reality of a COVID-19 world. However, the philosophy of the group and its de novo office design has stood up very well to the new and different demands placed on it due to the coronavirus.
Excellence and Expansion Lead to Adoption of New Dentistry Model
Dr. Brett Levin, Dr. Jen Derse, and Dr. Adam Jury were partners at Levin Family Dentistry—a practice opened by Dr. Levin’s father in 1973 that served the community with excellence for decades. The trio continued his tradition of excellence after they became owners. They were early adopters of CAD/CAM technology, and the practice grew significantly. They began to ponder their next steps. It was then, said Dr. Derse, the doctors were introduced to the idea of scaling up their practice through growth with other elite dentists who were also interested in providing state-of-the-art dentistry with a focus on luxury hospitality. Espire Dental was born, and added a business team that managed operations and expansion strategies while the doctors focused on patient care; creating a winning combination. The practice is described as an Integrated Dental Organization (IDO), the only one of its kind in Colorado, in which private dentists bring their businesses together to deliver superb care.
Currently, since Dr. Brandon Hall joined the trio, Espire Dental has four doctor-owners. The original location remains in the Cherry Creek/Glendale neighborhood, and they have grown into trendy LoHi/Riverfront, Denver Tech Center, and Colorado Springs. The Denver Tech Center practice was Espire Dental’s first de novo practice and is one of their proudest achievements thus far. It was completed in November of 2019.
According to CEO, Rob Linder, “Part of our value proposition is to centralize general and specialty care and to provide as many same-day services as possible to improve our patient experience. Old-school dental models have patients travel to specialists—we bring specialists to our patients.”
The group began looking for a new site in a growing, vibrant neighborhood with convenient and easy access to freeways. “The first step was to hire a talented real estate broker who knew what we were looking for and who we could trust,” said Mr. Linder. “Through patient mapping and sound advice from our real estate partners, we found a great location for a de novo practice. We had not planned on new construction, but once we saw it, we knew it would be a great location for our patients and new patients yet to be served.”
All on the Same Page
Espire Dental operates with a mission—Your Smile is Our Smile™. This core principle means when patients are happy, so are the doctors. Part of creating that happiness is designing environments that cater to the highest levels of patient comfort and also give doctors the absolute best work setting, from ambiance to technology to ergonomics.
“There’s a certain feeling we’ve tried to create, one where you know you’re going to have a quality experience,” said
Dr. Derse. “The aesthetics of a practice are the first thing you see and truly sets the tone for the patient experience.”
Office Design and Equipment Stand Up to COVID-19 Challenges
Although unplanned and unforeseen, the design they’ve created has also lent itself exceedingly well to new workflows and safety measures adopted since COVID-19 such as safe distancing for team members and patients.
They chose a renowned architect in Denver to design the office.
Henry Schein Equipment Sales Specialist, Mike Stanislawski and Field Sales Consultant, Jason Whitlow bid for their business, and gained the confidence of the Espire Dental team.
“Espire Dental’s philosophy aligns really well with our own philosophy,” said Mr. Stanislawski. “They are philanthropic, and they care a lot about their patients.”
The relationship between Henry Schein, the architect, and the builder was smooth and efficient, particularly because the three had long-term working relationships as a result of collaborating on other projects together.
The space was also ideal for a buildout—a square that could be configured nearly any way. Mr. Stanislawski leaned on Henry Schein’s Integrated Design Studio Team to help review the architectural drawings for technology and equipment placement, as well as specifications that would ensure patient flow was smooth and workflows efficient. Danielle Diamante, the Henry Schein Digital Technology Specialist, conducted demos and helped wade through technology options and specs.
“Our Henry Schein team helped us from the very beginning, including reviewing design plans and identifying the right equipment based on our needs,” Mr. Linder asserted. “They participated in our weekly meetings with our builders and guided the correct placement of all dental equipment. They helped us with our small equipment and supply orders to ensure we had everything we needed from day one. After opening, they have stayed with us the entire way to ensure all items are working properly and we have all we need to deliver the high-quality care our patients expect and deserve.”
Five-Star Patient Experience
The finishes—from the waiting area, to the 10 operatories, to the restrooms—are opulent, leaving a patient feeling as if they are in a five-star hotel, not a dental office. The seating area is both comfortable and functional, providing work spaces and entertainment options for busy patients. It’s bright and modern. Small details build into a crescendo of luxury that’s also highly functional. The palette, from counters to cabinetry, is a crisp white, creating a clean, pristine look.
“From monitors in the sterilization room to moist towels and warm blankets in cabinets, we thought of every detail to exceed our patient’s expectations and deliver exceptional patient care,” said Mr. Linder.
“As social distancing remains in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the waiting area is certainly quieter,” said Dr. Derse. The office is using a virtual waiting room model in which patients receive text messages inviting them inside when it’s their turn, eliminating extra time inside the office. In addition, the doctors have staggered their appointment times, said Dr. Brandon Hall, who has served as the practice’s head of the Return to Work/PPE Team.
They use Dentrix Ascend, the cloud-based practice management software adopted once the practice opened multiple practices, to determine a patient’s co-pay, send paperwork for consent to their devices and process payments ahead of time by phone. Once inside, patients enter a screening area in which they complete a questionnaire and have their temperature taken. Mr. Linder said, “Masks are required until the patient has safely reached their appointment room at which point they can be removed.”
New PPE and Scheduling
The clinical space is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment including equipment available from A-dec: the 511 chair, 533 delivery system, and 545 12 o’clock cabinets. The doctors embraced the A-dec brand for several reasons. Its quality had stood up well in their original practice, where it was used heavily each and every day, and they knew it was as sturdy and reliable as it was beautiful.
They also liked the commitment the company made to customer service. “We choose to work with companies that demonstrate exceptional experiences,” said Dr. Derse. “We’ve done a lot with A-dec, and their service is exceptional. We want our patients and our doctors to have the best.”
Before returning to work after the stay-at-home order was lifted, they formed a work group to address personal protective equipment (PPE) and return-to-work protocols, holding regular meetings and communicating company-wide with frequent updates. After donating their own supply of PPE to a local infectious disease doctor team on the frontline, they replenished their supply with disposable gowns, face shields, level 3 and N95 masks, shoe covers, bouffant caps, and gloves which were shipped to team member’s homes. Some team members even made masks, face shields and head covers for their teammates at home.
“Our Performance and Learning Team took our new protocols and trained our teams via multiple webinars,” said Mr. Linder. “For years, dentists have been using infection control supplies that protect against coronaviruses, and wear PPE to protect themselves and their patients. Now, we are using more of it. Dentists, of all health care professionals, are the best equipped to prevent COVID-19 because of how they have been trained and the equipment and supplies that are part of everyday dentistry.”
Dr. Derse praises the installation of pocket doors on the treatment rooms as a feature initially included for privacy, but which now doubles as a safety measure that limits air exchange. The office also added isodry units to all hygiene rooms as well as the doctor’s rooms, which allows a doctor to work without an assistant, if necessary.
“Our clinical team members have their lab coats and scrubs laundered daily and leave their shoes at the practice,” added Dr. Hall. “Hygiene actively minimizes aerosol-producing procedures by hand scaling where possible.”
In addition to these extra steps, the practice also invested in technology that makes dentistry fast and convenient for patients. They invested in three full Dentsply Sirona CEREC systems with Primescan and Omniscan digital scanners, said Mr. Stanislawski, because they didn’t ever want their patients to wait.
“Our patients’ time is of utmost importance to us,” said Mr. Linder. “We only invest in those technologies that enhance the patient experience and improve clinical outcomes.”
Now, in this time of heightened concern with COVID-19, same-day dentistry is also a safer option for patients because they don’t have to return to the office a second time.
“The CEREC technology is such a great experience for the patient,” said Dr. Derse, who explained that it saves them time and travel to a second appointment. “I’m surprised not every office is using it because it is our standard of care at Espire Dental.”
Three CAD/CAM Systems In Constant Use
Mr. Stanislawski said the doctors were very involved, spending hours and hours together analyzing and fine-tuning the digital workflow, and decided the CEREC system was just the best fit for their practice. Purchasing three systems was a significant investment, but Dr. Derse noted that with its superior Primescan intraoral scanner, CAD/CAM is extremely versatile and is the piece of equipment she would not practice without. The group currently mills all of their posterior crowns, as well as clear aligners in-house. For cosmetic cases, they send out the digital files to high-performance labs that can create restorations in half the time of traditional labs. Dr. Derse said she never takes a traditional impression.
The dentists chose a Dentsply Sirona Orthophos SL 3D cone beam X-ray system that they use primarily for extractions and implant cases. In addition, they use DEXIS Titanium sensors and CariVus for noninvasive caries detection, and ACTEON SOPRO 717 intraoral cameras.
Every piece of digital technology is fully compatible with each other and all are connected to Dentrix Ascend. In addition to allowing prepayments to minimize in-office interactions, it lets the doctors view patient records and information and scheduling from any computer in or outside the office. Being able to access patient information from home is one of
Dr. Derse’s favorite features and was certainly vital when working remotely.
“I love Dentrix Ascend as I am able to complete chart notes remotely,”
Dr. Derse shared. “Recently, one of our doctors asked me to consult on a patient diagnosis, and I was able to pull it up right on my computer. Being cloud-based makes so much more sense.”
Dr. Derse noted being a high-tech office not only meets patient demand and provides doctors with safe, efficient ways of providing dentistry, it has another benefit: it empowers the team who can now design the crowns and do the staining and glazing.
The doctor-owners and Mr. Linder all praise the team members of Espire Dental for overcoming the challenges presented by COVID-19 and for tackling each one with courage, passion and empathy for their family of patients. They have adopted the new protocols as though they have been practicing them all along.
Espire Dental kept every team member fully employed during the shutdown, engaging them through online trainings and even a little fun, like video contests with significant cash prizes and an Espire book club that helped them continue to develop their best selves and remain connected with each other. They arranged panel discussions with health experts and got to know one another’s family and pets by video conferencing. They also offered free COVID-19 antibodies tests to all team members.
The team extended outreach to patients too. “We personally called every patient to ask them how they are doing, and once we assessed their personal situation and needs, we then reviewed our new protocols, helped them know what to expect, and focused on giving them comfort and a sense of well-being,” said Mr. Linder.
“Most of our patients understand the new way of doing things and are grateful to feel safe and receive care again,” said Dr. Derse. As they continue to provide the same level of hospitality and care offered before COVID-19, the Espire team also recognizes these changes might be around for a while and it’s important to make the very best of the circumstances.
“We hope our patients feel the care, thoughtfulness, and safety that has gone into every detail of the patient experience and continue to trust in us to provide excellent care of their oral health,” concluded Mr. Linder. “We pride ourselves in being Espire Dental where excellence in dentistry meets luxury hospitality.” ♦