‘Don’t believe the myths’ mydentist CEO, Tom Riall, explains his company mission

Tom Riall is the chief executive officer of the Integrated Dental Holdings (IDH) group, the parent company of mydentist

Which sectors of dentistry do you operate in?

There are two principal businesses within IDH: mydentist, our network of more than 600 local dental practices stretching across the UK, and Dental Directory, our supply, distribution and laboratories business.

IDH Group is uniquely positioned in that we have true national coverage through our network of practices, as well as our own supply chain.

We would describe ourselves as the country’s only truly integrated dental services company.

What’s your role within IDH?

I’m the group chief executive officer.

My principal role is to set the vision, the strategy, the direction of travel, and the tone and culture of the organisation – as well as take a clear responsibility for working with the shareholders of the business.

What is your company’s mission statement?

We don’t set out to be the biggest – our vision is simply to be a great dental services business, with our own unique supply chain, delivering outstanding patient care, offering a comprehensive and affordable choice of treatments to our patients and where our clinicians can enjoy practicing.

How does your company help UK dental professionals perform better?

Our role is to free up and support our clinical professionals to do their jobs to the best of their ability – which is what they want to do – and then to provide the longer-term support and professional development for them to further their careers.

There are a lot of myths about what it’s like working for a larger “corporate”. But the reality of working inside a large network of practice is much better than the external perception that sometimes exists.

We can offer clinical support and advice, all the head office functions like HR, legal and marketing, and we have the country’s largest in-house dental training academy in Manchester.

If you were a dentist or hygienist what direction would you take your practice?

I think the long-term direction of travel is going to be towards some form of capitation, where dental professionals take responsibility for a population, as opposed to  reacting to dental need as and when things go wrong.

At the same time, it’s important to keep our sights on the very rapid technological changes taking place at the moment. The introduction of digital clinical technology is going to bring huge changes.

How has the business grown over the last five years?

IDH as a group has grown very rapidly through the acquisition of dental practices and The Dental Directory. It’s perhaps fair to say the growth has been too rapid, which is a good reason to take a breath and finish integrating those businesses before we move forward again.

At the same time we’re continuing to see strong growth with the Dental Directory and in our private dentistry business, particularly in areas such as cosmetic dentistry.

Where do you see dentistry going in the next 3-5 years?

It’s a really exciting time for dentistry. The introduction of new technologies is going to drive significant change, both from a patient perspective and in terms of clinical provision.

What advice would you give to a high street dentist?

Don’t believe all the myths you hear about being part of a larger corporate organisation. Stay open-minded to some of the benefits of working as part of a bigger network – such as clinical advice and long-term professional development, and consider giving us a try.