The global pandemic created by COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has altered life as we know it. Lock-downs, widespread closures, and social distancing have become the norm until the spread has somewhat diminished.
The impact of COVID-19 on dentistry requires general guidelines to assure staff and patient safety from exposure or transmission. Comprehensive information is routinely updated by the American Dental Association to assist you as a dental professional.
With plenty of relevant data available regarding COVID-19 symptoms and prevention our goal here is not to solely focus on those. Rather, our intention is to prompt your thinking about the unique position you’re in to deepen patient trust now and post-pandemic.
What the Impact of COVID-19 on Dentistry Does to Patient Confidence and How you Can Help
Your patients, like the general public, are taking steps to avoid unnecessary human contact. Naturally, social distancing will prompt many of your patients to reconsider their scheduled dental treatment.
And some of your patients could be infected with the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Again, the emphasis here isn’t on symptoms, spread, or recovery periods. The key for you as a health professional now and in the post-pandemic future is to be a trusted thought-leader related to infection control.
How the Impact of COVID-19 on Dentistry Increases Risk Awareness and Magnifies your Response
The healthcare industry, including dentistry, faces daily contagion risk. OSHA guidelines help reduce and potentially eliminate that risk.
Beyond the baseline established by OSHA, patients should expect that you’re diligent about infection control. Viral outbreaks like COVID-19 heighten your patient’s awareness.
It’s a perfect time to instill trust and showcase your vigilance. Not only to prevent viral spread in the present but to increase future credibility for your dental practice.
Communication Can Build Trust During the Pandemic and Beyond
Now’s the time to increase patient communication about the impact of COVID-19 on dentistry. And practically speaking, how you already handle the delicate subject of infection control on a daily basis.
Give patients assurance that - first and foremost - you’re following OSHA guidelines. Then provide them additional confidence by highlighting what you and your team are doing during this current pandemic.
Routine and Relevant Protocols Confirm your Trusted Response to COVID-19 Infection Fears
It’s vital to your patient’s ongoing trust that you show above-and-beyond infection control effort during the current outbreak.
Recommended actions for essential dental appointments could include:
- Providing the opportunity for patients to check-in verbally for their appointment. This will eliminate surface contact with keypads and/or writing instruments.
- Schedule consistent disinfection of your waiting area and front-desk counter space throughout open hours. Confirm that more thorough disinfection occurs after-hours in preparation for the following day’s schedule.
- Remove waiting area amenities that involve high-touch (e.g. coffee and tea service, magazines and reading materials).
- Rearrange your waiting area seating to place additional space between chairs. And remove a portion of your seating to accommodate the changes.
- Implement and communicate schedule flexibility for a designated period of time to reduce patient traffic (e.g. elective dental care including re-care appointments, cosmetic dental procedures, etc).
These fundamental changes will help communicate your commitment to patient safety until COVID-19 risk diminishes. And once it does the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your dental practice can be overcome with some additional strategic action now.
What to do to Safeguard your Dental Practice Productivity and Production Post-Pandemic
1. Evaluate and adapt your dental marketing strategies including content creation and social media
During crises or similar events it’s essential that you refine your marketing narrative. Be sensitive to the collective mindset of your patients and the general population and avoid overt promotional content.
- Keep dentistry front-of-mind by promoting your service benefits. But do so with sensitivity and timing related to public distraction about health related issues.
- Ramp-up your dental blog/article page on your dental practice website. Create fresh content that informs and educates your patients and the public about infection control, the safety of dental appointments, practical home care tips, and the connection between oral health and overall physical health.
- Use social media to curate, create, and share relevant and useful oral health themed content. Maintain a consistent social media presence to communicate any dental practice changes or updates that keep your online community informed.
2. Monitor your available supplies for current and immediate future treatment
Supply shortages on gloves, masks, and disinfection solutions could derail an even minimal production schedule during the pandemic. In-house inventory control awareness and go-to supplier relationships are keys to avoiding schedule interruptions.
- Remind your team(s) to avoid supply waste, especially during this current crisis.
- Build your inventory as necessary to have available supplies in the near future as supply-chains are being replenished.
3. Fully deploy your technology and software platforms to coordinate practice changes and essential patient communication
The current pandemic adds chaos to your dental practice productivity and established daily workflows. A maximized dental practice management software platform enables you to adapt your operational and patient care systems.
- Confirm that you’re fully utilizing your dental practice management software. Evaluate its efficiency for your workflows, patient scheduling, dental and medical insurance reimbursements, billing, and team communication.
- Maximize its patient communication capabilities to keep them informed and to avoid scheduling gaps.
And while you’re navigating the current challenges and anticipating a productive future, Denticon, our cloud-based practice management software, allows your staff to continue to perform essential functions without having to come into the office as well as helps streamline IT operations and reduce hardware costs.
As a dental industry technology and software provider we’re in this together with you as a solo private practice, private group practice, or DSO.
Contact us for more information. We’re here to help you streamline your systems and operational tasks during this health crisis and in the future.