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Beginner’s Guide on Starting a Dental Clinic in Singapore
If you’re thinking of starting a dental clinic in Singapore, you’ve come to the right resource. This guide explains core precepts that every entrepreneur should know before beginning a business. Dental clinics are a sound business idea, but it’s best to do your due diligence first to ensure success.
For example, approximate statistics for 2019 indicate a ratio of four dentists to every 10,000 people in Singapore. Further, there were only 862 private and 245 public dental clinics in Singapore as of 2020. Singapore’s medical and dental clinics market has an 11.8% forecast compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in revenue until 2022. With a current population of 5,900,882, there is plenty of business to go around for the intrepid entrepreneur.
However, this market segment is strictly regulated, and there are numerous rules and formalities to follow. Your business will need to ensure its compliance is always up-to-date and in top form. While a good guide can explain business practices and approvals, you may also need expert help at some point. Should the occasion arise, do get in touch with us at 3E Accounting – our experts are ready to assist.
What is a Dental Clinic?
A dental clinic offers dental treatment and includes both public and private dental clinics. Public clinics are usually part of a larger medical centre or chain and are less costly. However, barring emergencies, patients need to schedule an appointment before visits. Privately owned clinics have less waiting time, and walk-ins are acceptable, but they can be pretty expensive.
In Singapore, dentists get their qualifications as GPs (general practitioners) after taking a four-year dentistry course. A GP can become a specialist after two years of practice by enrolling in a three-year specialist course. Practitioners with a local degree are fully and automatically registered and can practice independently. For foreign-trained dentists, registration is conditional with a two-year supervision period.
Dental clinics and practices in Singapore can offer one or all of the following treatments:
- Paediatric dentistry – specialists in treating children’s dental needs.
- Periodontal treatment – centres around gum therapy.
- Restorative treatment – fillings, crowns, and bridges.
- Prosthetic and Orthodontic treatment – tooth replacement, crowns, braces, dentures, etc.
- Endodontic treatment – root canal therapy.
- Oral surgery and medicine – specialists in surgeries and medicine around the mouth, e.g., wisdom tooth extraction, lesions treatment, etc.
Why Start a Dental Clinic in Singapore?
As a global business hub, Singapore is a desirable location to start any business. It has world-class connectivity and infrastructure, secure political and business environments and is a gateway to Southeast Asian markets. Most of all, its healthcare market segment is world-renowned for its high standards and use of cutting-edge technology.
Singapore has a competitive tax regime, and its business atmosphere is highly conducive to entrepreneurs. Singapore consistently ranks in the top-tier ranking of the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business. Registration is straightforward even if you are a foreigner, and you can also work with a corporate service provider. This makes it a global magnet for investors and businesses alike.
What Does a Dental Clinic Need?
Starting a dental clinic in Singapore does require a fair bit of planning and execution. There are quite a few specific regulations to follow, especially when it comes to outfitting and staffing the practice. When writing up your business plan, here are a few considerations to take note of:
- Location and visibility, type of customers and specialisations, e.g., a pedodontics clinic would do well near a school or housing area.
- Reception and clinic areas may need unique layouts, furniture and fittings.
- CMS software to handle, store and manage patient data, schedule appointments, etc.
- Inventory and storage.
- Equipment such as dental chairs, oral irrigators, tools and suction machines, lighting, x-rays and laser systems.
It’s important to note that contractors, interior designers or architects must be certified and licenced to handle clinic renovation. They will also need to provide a floor plan of the new premises for licencing purposes. Staff must include a clinic manager who is a medical practitioner registered with the Singapore Medical Council (SMC). You may also need to hire a licenced radiologist if you plan to have and use the x-ray equipment.
Key Steps in Starting a Dental Clinic in Singapore
Your dental clinic will need to register as a business entity before practising or applying for licences. As long as you have a valid medical licence, any individual, organisation, or society can start a dental clinic. However, dentists must be practitioners from the Dentists Registry – check out the Singapore Dental Council (SDC) for more information.
Singapore business structures include sole trader, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, limited company, subsidiary, etc. Choosing the proper structure is essential to ensure sustainable business development. For more in-depth information on company structures, check out 3E Accounting’s guide to company registration in Singapore.
Once you’ve chosen a suitable business vehicle, the next step is to register or incorporate your business. Log into BizFile with your Singpass account – BizFile is the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority’s (ACRA) company registration platform. Fill out the form, submit the required documents and fees, and wait for approval. Alternatively, you can engage 3E Accounting for its award-winning services, which include seamless and hassle-free Singapore company incorporation.
The registration or incorporation process will include the following:
- Select a name per ACRA’s ‘naming’ rules, and it must have the words’ Dental Clinic’ or ‘Dental Centre’ as part of its name.
- Incorporation documents – i.e., directors and shareholders information, Articles and Memorandum of Association, registered address, etc.
- Tax registration with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS).
- Getting a bank account and business liability insurance.
What Approvals Do You Need for a Dental Clinic in Singapore?
Approvals, licencing and permits for medical and dental clinics fall under the purview of the Ministry of Health (MOH). Do check out MOH Guidelines and its eLis e-licencing site for an overview. Application submission is made a minimum of two months in advance to MOH’s Licensing, Inspection & Audit Branch. Each branch of the practice will need its own permits and licences.
Further, Singapore’s dynamic healthcare arena also has a strong digital element, prompting the MOH to introduce new legislation. The Healthcare Services Act (HCSA) will soon be replacing the old Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics Act (PHMCA). It will usher in a new, risk-based methodology towards regulations and licencing and will take time for full implementation. If you need assistance, 3E Accounting offers comprehensive solutions that will ensure up-to-date compliance for your business.
Other approvals include the following:
- Premises approval from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).
- Renovation Permits, Temporary Occupation Permits, Advertising or Signboard Licence from the Building and Construction Authority (BCA).
- Fire Safety Certificate (FSC) from the Singapore Civil Defence Force’s (SCDF) Fire Safety Department.
- Certificate of Registration of a Pharmacy to dispense medicine from the Health Sciences Authority (HSA).
- Advertisements and Promotions of Medical Products Permit from HSA.
- Licences for each irradiating equipment (lasers, x-rays, ultrasound, etc.) and Hazardous Substances Permits from the relevant National Environment Agency (NEA) departments.
- A CBCT (Cone Beam Computed Tomography) licence from MOH.
- Work visas or valid passes for foreign employees from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
- Medisave Accreditation for patients to make Medisave claims from MOH.
If you wish to do your bit for society, you can always register your dental clinic as a charity. To do so, you will need a Charitable Institution License, and 3E Accounting can help facilitate the process.
How to Grow Your Dental Clinic
There are numerous ways for a dental clinic to ramp up business. A great window of opportunity actually presents itself during the launch of your clinic. Offering free consultations, informal chat sessions, freebies, etc., can fill up your appointment calendar in no time. Having pre-launch advertisements will also work positively to bring in the crowds.
Consider having open days or community activity days – use these as a platform to launch innovative strategies. Look into creating geriatric or special needs patients’ dental plans – these groups offer much potential. Organise ‘get to know your dentist’ drives where the community can connect with the practitioners in your clinic. These will make for excellent brand awareness and will strengthen your social media presence.
You should also leverage technology and digital innovation to improve and streamline your clinic’s efficiency. Clear, concise lines of communication with your patients via messaging services, apps, etc., can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. Investing in CMS (customer management systems) and other relevant software are a must if you want to stay current.
Starting a dental clinic in Singapore may seem like a complex process. Aside from business registration, there are numerous regulations and procedures to observe, making compliance a thorny issue. However, there’s nothing like having your very own practice, and with the proper assistance, you can start up quickly.
Professional support is simply a click away as 3E Accounting is just the corporate service provider you need. We offer customisable company incorporation packages that are comprehensive, fully digitalised and solution-driven. To work with the best, contact 3E Accounting today.