Going to the dentist isn’t fun for most of us. However, regular dental check-ups are recommended by healthcare professionals, along with our healthcare screenings. As much as I dislike having my teeth examined, polished and scaled, I abhor even more the thought of going through a more serious dental procedure.
Thankfully, getting a dental appointment is relatively easy in Singapore at private dental clinics. A prominent name in dental healthcare is Q & M Dental (SGX: QC7). Established in 1996 and listed on the SGX Mainboard in 2009, Q &M is currently Singapore’s largest private dental healthcare group with 87 dental outlets, over 240 qualified dentists and over 300 supporting staff in Singapore.
Q & M’s Singapore presence forms a significant (over 90%) of their operations and revenue, serving about 10% of Singapore’s population. They also have a presence in Malaysia and China, and are a substantial shareholder of Aoxin Q & M Dental Group, which operates dental clinics and hospitals mainly in China. Aside from the provision of dental services, Q & M has also established Q & M College of Dentistry which offers Singapore’s first private postgraduate diploma programme in clinical dentistry.
Recently, Q & M and Aoxin Q & M announced the acquisition of Acumen Diagnostics, a medical diagnostics and technology company. Upon completion of this acquisition, Q & M would hold 51% direct ownership while holding an effective 67.15% ownership through their subsidiary ownership of Aoxin Q & M. This has opened Q & M’s business to the field of medical diagnostics. This has proven to be valuable for the Group as Acumen Diagnostics is one of the approved providers of COVID-19 testing.
What are the services provided by Q & M Dental?
Q & M owns the largest network of private dental outlets in Singapore, operating 87 dental outlets across the country. The services provided includes dental care and medical care. The Group also operates 37 dental clinics in Malaysia and 1 in China.
In 2019, Q & M has ventured into the dental education market, providing graduate diploma courses for dentists in Singapore. In view of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the group has also expanded into the medical laboratories and research industry with the incorporation of Acumen Diagnostic Pte Ltd for sales and distribution of COVID-19 test kits and provision of laboratory testing.
How is the Q & M’s revenue split across your key markets?
We operate 87 dental clinics in Singapore, 37 in Malaysia and 1 in China. Through our associate company Aoxin Q & M, we have embarked on expanding in the northeastern part of China over the years, opening dental hospitals with more than 100 over dental chairs.
Although Aoxin has been loss making in the last few years, due to COVID-19 and gestation losses from opening 2 new hospitals in Panjing and Daliang, improvements are being observed this year. The net loss for 1Q2021 is RMB 4.7 million, however, it has decreased to RMB 1.5 million in 2Q2021. Bearing unforeseen circumstances, the Group is cautiously optimistic on the dental industry in China.
We are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation in Malaysia and will evaluate the opening of new clinics until the vaccination rate increases and the rate of infection decreases.
What is Q & M’s competitive edge versus your peers?
Serving over 10% of the local population, the distinct brand of Q & M has been recognised and endorsed by various organisations. The group has more than 40,000 recurring patient visits per month, and more than 9,000 new customers each month.
We have over 240 qualified and experienced dentists, of which more than 50 are specialists or dentists who have undergone extensive post-graduate training either locally or from various established training institutions overseas. The large pool of qualified dentists allows the group to provide a comprehensive range of primary dental care services. We also have over 300 well-trained nurses and supporting staff providing dentists and customers with efficient service.
What are some recent developments by the Group?
We have made inroads in the development of advanced technology in healthcare with the establishment of EM2AI Pte Ltd, which focuses on developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered solutions in diagnosis and treatment planning. Through the collaboration with International Medical University, the system aims to improve the quality and experience of patient treatment. It will be the first of its kind in Southeast Asia to be used in the dental healthcare landscape.
Training and education are an integral part of a dentist’s profession. Our Q & M College of Dentistry aims to provide a platform for dentists to upgrade their skills and learn best practices in Dentistry, with our first batch of students graduating in the next few months. Moving forward, the college will also provide enhanced courses to dentists in Singapore.
Our subsidiary, Acumen Diagnostics, was granted a healthcare institution licence from the Ministry of Health for the operation of a clinical laboratory for conducting SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing services for COVID-19 on 14 September 2020. The Acu-corona series of SARS CoV-2 RT-PCR tests are already being used in other countries including Malaysia and Indonesia. Furthermore, Acumen was selected as one of the six successful awardees of the open tender exercise by HPB for the provision of COVID-19 swab and testing services in May 2021
Going digital/technological innovation is seen as a requirement to remain a viable business. What are some ways the Group is “disrupting” itself?
The group’s incorporated subsidiary, EM2AI has been focusing on the development of a dental healthcare software in diagnosis and treatment planning. Through the collaboration agreement with International Medical University, the AI-enhanced guided treatment plan for the management of common dental diseases is currently underway.
The AI software is also known as ethical treatment planning, as dentists with different majors might provide different treatment plans, the AI system provides the best treatment plans formed from current best practices. This AI solution minimizes overtreatment and under treatment, increases patient confidence in dental treatment
Editor’s Note: Some answers for this article were extracted from the SGX 10 in 10 series published on 5 October 2021 and have been republished with permission. You can read more on the SGX website.
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