The accumulation of marginal gains

How small changes can make a big impact!

Les Jones Practice Management 1 Comment

The hugely successful UK cycling team has built much of its success on a principle called the Accumulation of Marginal Gains. That is, if you want to make a significant improvement in your performance, it’s difficult to do by just improving one aspect of what you do – but major improvements can be made by achieving small incremental enhancements in every single thing that you do.

When he took over as the Head of UK Cycling, Sir Dave Brailsford applied this methodology. He challenged every part of every process looking for ways to make small, marginal gains from improving the team’s diet to helping them get better quality sleep (by taking their own pillows on tour with them). He changed the aero-dynamic qualities of the bikes and even redesigned the team bus for better comfort and relaxation.

It paid off and the UK team went from also-rans to world beaters.

So, what if you were to apply this approach to your practice?

What small improvements could you make in every area of your business that would lead to a significant improvement in your overall performance and profitability?

What if…

1% more patients said yes to treatment plans? 1% more enquiries were converted into appointments? What affect would 1% more patients referring your practice to friends and relatives have? Or what difference to your bottom line would a 1% increase in prices have?

To achieve these goals requires the involvement and commitment of the whole team – it’s a continuous, ongoing project. Use team meetings to shine a light on every aspect of your business and every step of the patient experience. Then generate simple, low-cost ideas that can be easily and quickly implemented.

Areas you could consider for improvement might include:
  • Your website – How can you make your messages a little clearer and more engaging?
  • Front desk – How could you develop your front desk team to improve the language they use to sign more patients onto your plan, reduce your number of DNAs or sell more sundries?
  • Your waiting area – How could you make the experience of sitting in your waiting area more comfortable, more educational, more enjoyable?
  • Your signage – How visible is your practice to the outside world and how clear is the messaging on your signage? Could you make improvements here?
  • Your treatment plans – How could you improve the way in which you present your treatment plans so that they are clearer and easier to understand for the patient. Could you present them in a way that they reflect the quality of your dentistry more effectively? You could look at the paper you use, the way in which the plans are printed, the envelopes you use, how you lay out the information – all these are areas where you could make the final result just that little bit better.

The great thing about taking the ‘marginal gains’ approach is that it’s something you can do at your own pace and without any added pressure. What is guaranteed is that over a period of time, you will be able to look back and see how far you’ve come and what positive effects can be achieved by focusing on the little things that make a big difference.



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  • A small key can unlock the big locker, that means a small change is enough to achieve big results. In this article you mentioned clearly, how small changes impacting more. Its a nice one. A small appointment can solve your problem and make you happy.

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    http://www.healthfamilyclinic.com