What do you want to change going into your “new normal"? For many people, their goals are to spend more time with family once returning to work, exercise more than before, take advantage of face time with loved ones, and so on. But what does it mean for your business?
Dentistry has certainly been affected in terms of the damage from COVID-19. We will continue to feel the effects for a while. People have lost their jobs. This means losing not only their dental insurance, but also their means of paying patient portions, deductibles, and copays.
Some people are scared to go out of their homes, regardless that some states are lifting the stay-at-home orders. Others have been destabilized and they want to feel as much comfort as life will afford them right now. This means adapting to how patients want to be treated and setting up a comfortable and healthy environment to the best of your ability upon reopening.
Here are a few tips to help your patients feel more at ease coming back into your office:
Give a 10-minute window before and after each appointment to allow your staff to thoroughly and properly clean not only instruments and the ops, but the door handle, waiting room, check-in/out counter, restroom, etc. It will also give your patients the sense that you care about social distancing and keeping them protected.
Unless the entire family has a dental appointment, the entire family doesn’t need to come to the dentist with the patient. Reduce excess and unnecessary traffic flow as much as you can. This will help your patients feel that their personal space is respected.
This will reduce the time that the new patients need to sit in your waiting room, exposing themselves to a different environment. This will also reduce cross-contamination from passing papers, clipboards, or pens back and forth between the patient and staff. Let the patient know to come at their appointment time instead of being early. Bonus: this will give them a few extra minutes in their day as well!
A few of our clients have mentioned looking into a ventilation system that can suck out contaminants from the operatory and help reduce exposure to airborne bacteria and disease.
Some innovative systems out there are offering a curbside waiting solution where the patient will receive a text notification when it’s their turn for their appointment, reducing the exposure to other patients coming and going. This is a great alternative if your schedule does not allow you to stagger patients. The patient can simply wait comfortably in their car until notified to come in.
Some patients are just not going to want to come in and see you right now, unless it truly is an emergency. Imagine offering them a short teledental consult where you can. This can determine whether or not the patient needs to be seen, or how soon. Keep in mind there are some things you can only see on an X-ray. However, having the ability to securely see someone’s swollen gums, loose bracket, fractured tooth, and more, can help you assess how urgent the situation is. If the patient feels as though you are making a serious decision about having them come into the office, versus requiring every patient to come in just to “get looked at", they will respect you all the more. Bonus- you are able to bill the D9995 or D9996 teledental codes to the insurance companies you work with.
Make sure your staff is ready to come back to the office and work. Are your hygiene records up to date? Is everything organized and sterilized? Do you have inventory for procedures? Have you updated your software, and signed up for e-services? Have you had the training you need in a certain area of any of your software solutions? If not, do it now! Patients will feel better if you look and act like the “boss" you are. Own your area, whatever it is (clinical, front office, insurance), and your confidence will shine through in your patient care.
I cannot stress this enough. Your patients need to hear from you to know that you are open, treating patients. They need to hear what precautions you are taking to help protect them. Let them know if you are implementing any of the suggestions above so they see that you are being proactive. Inform them if you are expanding hours to offer late appointments or even weekend appointments for patients that can’t afford to miss a second of work once they go back. Let them know you are offering payment plans to the patients that lost their jobs. Let them know that you care, and that you want to see them again when they are ready.
If you don’t inform them, they may find another dentist that is offering convenience tools, or make them feel more comfortable about venturing out to the dental office again.
In order to do this, you must have communication system. Your staff cannot call every patient individually and inform them of the steps you are taking (unless you have less than 100 patients).
DentiMax is offering several options at a discounted price (or even free right now) so you can serve your patients well. Don’t wait, take action nowand be ready for your patients.