Quarantined. On lockdown. Practicing social distancing. The language of our times not only defines life as we know it…it also substantially impacts how you build and renew dental patient relationships during COVID-19.
Timely perspective from Dental Products Report clarifies this needed shift in our approach to patient relationships during and post-pandemic.
”Patients are becoming more sophisticated and they will continue to challenge you on multiple levels. As nearly 1/4th of the world’s 7.8 billion people are, for the most part, stuck in their homes, daily life remains uncertain. When patients return to their habits, like regular dental checkups, keep in mind that they will need reassurance that dental providers are delivering safe, high-quality care.”
Business-as-usual won’t cut it when you re-open and begin treating patients again. It’s different now!
Understanding your patient’s mindset is vital to how you build and renew dental patient relationships now and in the future
Thinking about safety
Personal safety is an obvious point of concern for everyone – your patients included. There’s heightened awareness about certain guidelines what is routine for you as a dental professional.
- Aerosol creation and distribution
- Infection control
- Team PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
You can expect new awareness about these front-of-mind topics and and more.
Concerned about finances
Like you, your patients have weathered much. Some have lost their jobs, been forced to balance work-from-home life with family responsibilities, and have taken on the new role of home schooling their children.
Add to that the financial burden created by being laid-off or furloughed for an unforeseen period of time. With job loss can also come the loss of benefits such as dental insurance.
Compelled to stay healthy
Health awareness is at an all-time high. Your patients are more symptom aware than ever before.
It’s feared that a cough or fever is signaling the onset of something more serious. Combine that with the reality that any such symptom could prevent them from work, a daily routine, or the opportunity to improve their oral or physical health.
That’s merely the tip-of-the-iceberg regarding what’s on the collective mindset of your dental patients. Your awareness alongside an authentically sensitive narrative will combine to set your practice apart in this COVID-19 era of dentistry.
At the intersection of patient mindset and practice culture are the keys to how you build and renew dental patient relationships during and beyond COVID-19
Realize that everything rises and falls on engaging and empathetic communication
Now’s the time to engage your patients by understanding their concerns.
You and your team are somewhat excited to return to patient care. And it’s likely your patients are equally excited (cautiously so) to emerge from their quarantine “cocoon” and return to their routine – including an available or overdue dental appointment.
But be prepared to engage their questions and newly heightened fears or concerns. Because of COVID-19 remember what’s routine for you and your team (e.g. infection control, treatment protocols, PPE, etc) is a significant point of concern for them.
- Avoid appearing cavalier about topics you routinely embrace as part-of-the-job.
- Listen and repeat their stated opinions, concerns, or fears back to them. This implies that you’re seeking to understand rather than dismiss what keeps-them-awake-at-night, so to speak.
- Reframe their concerns and fears by sharing your professional insight and you/your team’s vigilance to address their concerns/fears.
- Stay positive without sounding trite or trivializing their relevant questions or concerns.
Empathy is always in style. But during a crisis it’s all the more valuable to effective communication with your dental patients.
Reveal your willingness to assist them with necessary financial solutions
Many have faced some form of a financial setback during the pandemic. It could be related to their career or the prevailing wisdom to monitor spending until things level out.
Either scenario is supported by you helping to alleviate the financial burden being collectively felt by many. Back to communication – it’s essential that you and your team are empathetically prepared to understand their cost concerns and communicate useful solutions.
- Brainstorm viable incentives to help ease their financial fears. Think beyond the standard promotion-of-the-month options. Incentivize in ways that protect your bottom-line while giving your patients motivation to schedule.
- Supplement your payment options with third-party financing solutions. Now’s a good time to promote those options that lessen your patients longterm burden (such as high interest) with those sensitive to the crisis nature of what the culture is generally facing. Some third-party providers might have adjusted payback periods and interest requirements. Do your research, partner with those who do, and guide your patients to use them if necessary.
- Offer in-house financing and membership plans. Small, measured payments can help patients get the treatment they need or desire without overwhelming their available cash-flow.
These financial solutions also take into consideration that your practice has perhaps operated at a loss for a time during the pandemic. Your willingness to partner with your patients with viable financing options can be a win-win that can build and renew dental patient relationships long-term.
Reward health consciousness with convenient and compelling customer (patient) service
Like you, many of your patients will be returning to work and some form of a “normal” routine. With that return to relative normalcy comes a desire to remain healthy.
It’s natural to hope that part of their health consciousness includes dentistry. That desire though could be challenged by less time off, extended work hours to make up for lost income, or other related circumstances beyond their control.
Your customer (patient) service must adapt to their needs and their health-related concerns.
- Accommodate your patient’s schedule with updated appointment options. Back to work will initially mean less available time off. Early morning, evening, or even weekend appointments could provide them more convenient options to schedule.
- Adapt your scheduling to protect your patient’s health. The days of a tight, overlapping schedule are gone or on-hold for now. Build in a necessary time gap between appointments to limit the number of patients in your reception area and to adequately prep your ops for the next procedure.
- Apply tele-dentistry as a convenient solution for pre-screening or diagnosis. This remote option provides physical distancing and the opportunity to schedule their treatment when it fits their schedule (and yours).
Re-opening your practice and how you build and renew your dental patient relationships requires some strategic planning. And that process is much easier when you have a streamlined organizational system for patient care.
The Dental Dashboard streamlines IT operations and reduces hardware costs.
Contact us for more information about how Denticon can streamline your systems and operational tasks to build and renew your dental patient relationships now and in the future.