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  • by: Deborah Bush & Amol Nirgudkar
  • 11 min read

Espire Dental Aims to Turn Dentistry Upside Down

August 2022--At the 9th Dykema Definitive DSO Conference in July 2022, Patient Prism’s co-founder and CEO, Amol Nirgudkar, interviewed Tim Hill (CEO) and Kim Schneider, Chief Marketing office, from Espire Dental, a Denver-based DSO currently at 20 locations. 



From this videoed interview, it’s clear that Espire Dental plans to turn dentistry upside down, and the Patient Prism platform is helping them do just that.

When asked what differentiates Espire Dental, Kim Schneider says, “We have a deep philosophy across our organization that when we create team happiness, our teams are going to pay that forward to our patients and create the best patient experience possible. We constantly look at the way we support our team members. For example, we make sure our team members feel fulfilled through continuing education and that they feel their ideas are supported.”

Turning dentistry upside down refers to making dental office operations so enjoyable that both employees and patients are having fun, they are feeling fulfilled by each dental experience, and they praise this experience to each other, family, friends, and associates. 

Nirgudkar says, “It's such a simple thing to hear, but it's a hard thing to implement. Patient Prism’s AI call tracking and coaching platform was developed to help meet the challenges of making every patient’s experience wonderful over the phone. Over the phone, we can naturally set the expectation that they will feel comfortable and welcomed in a high-touch way when they come to the office. What you aim to do and are succeeding in doing is what we hope all our Patient Prism clients learn to do."

Nirgudkar asks, "How do you make sure the people you hire are going to fit the organizational mission you have to make dentistry enjoyable?”

Tim Hill is quick to respond, “Great people attract great people. We've got people who really enjoy coming to work, and they want to work with others that have a very similar mindset.”

One of Espire’s mottos is "Be you. Align with us," Hill says, “We look for people from all different cultures and backgrounds. Because of their different experiences and ideas, they can make us a better organization and a better team… We absolutely want to empower every team member to use their voice for good. If they're not in agreement with something, our goal is to create alignment… Coupled with the culture that Kim talked about team happiness and fulfillment, that's how we create greatness. That's how we live joyfully. And we lead bravely.”


Espire uses Net Provider Scores to monitor their success

Espire Dental surveys patients and employees every quarter to assess Net Promoter Scores. On a scale of 1 to 10, they want to know how likely their patients and employees are to recommend Espire to others.

“We're extremely proud that when we do a new patient survey for an NPS score, we're scoring an 83. Our employee NPS scores vary between 81 and 84 from quarter to quarter. We're extremely proud of that. It’s an indication that we're doing something right. And when that number slips, then we're going to take a step back and ask, ‘What's happening? Why are our team members not as fulfilled? Or why are our patients not as fulfilled?’"


Hygiene is a pivotal piece of Espire Dental

Espire’s director of hygiene, Tina Braesch, has been with Espire since Espire was formed.

“Espire views each hygienist as a valuable provider and their clinical ability and skill set as instrumental to the doctor's success,” says Hill. “Patients often love their hygienist more than their doctor and might see their hygienist more times than their doctor. And so, we train them in what we call our two-to-one transfer. It's where the hygienist and the doctor are working hand in hand, and the patient's needs are communicated with the doctor in front of the patient. We also train our hygienists to sit down eye to eye with patients when talking with them. And from a clinical perspective, our hygiene team is outstanding.”

Hill admits that hygiene recruiting is challenging in Colorado, but they are constantly coming up with ways to make working there special. “For example,” he says, “At the end of the month, we're bringing Katrina Sanders, who is a great motivational speaker, to our DTC Denver practice. We've invited any hygienist in the community that wants to come for free to do wine and charcuterie cheese boards with us. And they'll all get two free CEs during this supportive time together.”

Hill continues, “Those are the types of things that we like to do. Just thinking a little bit differently to get everyone involved. And we believe that impact will continue to move our hygiene program forward as well as just the hygiene profession.”


Espire’s marketing

“Patient acquisition is the lifeline of all of our practices,” says Schneider. “We have a very strong branding strategy and a strong identity. Espire is the place where excellence and dentistry meet inspired hospitality. We set that expectation for incoming new patients. We use only photographic images from our actual patients. We don't use stock photographs. We use fun pictures of our team. We show who we are as humans. 

“Over the last three years that we’ve been building or organization, new patients who see our advertising are drawn to it. They see the way we are celebrating our team members and our patients, and they want in.”

Espire Dental has had significant year-over-year growth for the past three years, and its new patient acquisition has doubled every year. As Espire’s brand message grows, new locations have no difficulty attracting employees and patients. 

“We’re getting to the point that, when we open a new Espire location in a new city, it's not starting from zero. People are excited and say, ‘Oh my gosh, an Espire opened down the street from me!’” says Schneider.

We utilize the Patient Prism platform to train our teams and make sure we're doing everything we can over the phone to help and convert patients. It’s a great partnership. We appreciate all that you do for our organization.

– Tim Hill, CEO of Espire Dental


The Espire patient experience

“You talk about turning an industry upside down,” says Schneider. “Espire is changing the perception and the mind of the new patient. A dental experience doesn't have to be fearful. You don't have to have anxiety about it. You don't have to worry about being greeted by an individual who doesn't enjoy their job. You come into a welcoming environment where people want to take care of you and smile at you. They have learned about you before you even walk in the door as a new patient.”

Their high-touch approach is changing the stigma of dentistry. The level of comfort and fun they infuse into the patient experience drives up retention.

“And the message that dentistry at Espire is comfortable and fun is spreading word of mouth, not just through our advertising,” says Schneider. “We hope our model changes the dental industry. For sure it’s accelerating our new patient growth.”

Hill says, “Obviously Patient Prism plays a role in this for us as well. With Patient Prism, our teams are able to make a wonderful first impression from the moment new patients call one of our locations. We utilize the Patient Prism platform to train our teams and make sure we're doing everything we can over the phone to help and convert patients. It’s a great partnership. We appreciate all that you do for our organization.”


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