Louise Bone shares nine top things dentists can do during COVID-19 to be ready for when normality resumes…
For all of us in any industry, our working patterns and professional, as well as personal, routines have been disrupted by the chaos created by COVID-19.
While this, of course, brings many challenges, we can try and use this time to take positive steps that will stand us in good stead once we are out the other side of the current predicament.
Below are some practical things dentists can be doing while they aren’t treating patients that will not only help to prepare the practice for reopening, but may also help you feel productive and provide a focus for now…
- Check your stock inventory. Take a look at what’s in your stock cupboard and consider what you will need when restrictions have been lifted, i.e. do you have enough cement or glass ionomer? Check the expiration dates on products and make sure you have everything you need for the kinds of appointments you are likely to be prioritising once these tough times are over.
- Create a list of different categories of patients. Having a list of your patients and their needs can help you to prioritise and proactively take steps to contact them when you can. For example, you could create a list of those with temporary crowns or, if you have a membership plan, you could list those who were about to go ahead before you closed.
- Re-evaluate your glove levels. If you gave away a large stock to your local care homes and hospitals at the beginning of the pandemic, make sure you have enough ready for when you start back; put your order in now.
- Prepare to offer ‘complaining of pain’ appointments. Private practices may have the opportunity to offer these kinds of appointments to many more people in the first month or so after reopening. If patients are unable to access an NHS surgery due to demand once the COVID-19 crisis is over, they may turn to private practices for ‘relief of pain’ appointments. Make sure you have the appropriate marketing materials in place to both promote these kinds of services, as well as for afterwards, i.e. a practice brochure.
- Explore what added value you can offer via your hygienist. It could be worthwhile to have a conversation with your hygiene team about hand scaling patients when they return, or even offering a branded home-care product kit to give your members as a thank you for their support.
- Prepare for implant patients. Bear in mind that there may be more patients in need of implants than you would previously have had, and make sure you zone your diary appropriately. And, as per the first point, make sure you have all the component parts you need.
- Market your teeth whitening offer now. Don’t assume that people won’t be interested in this kind of treatment straight away. Many consumers have been sitting in lockdown not spending their cash. Now might just be the perfect time to be promoting your teeth whitening service on social media, adverts, your website, etc. If you wait until you reopen you might find yourself competing more with everyone else who also waited – acting now can put you ahead of the game.
- If you offer facial aesthetics, be proactive. If you have patients who may have missed their regular facial aesthetic cycle, skin peel or lip filler, create a list to call when you reopen. These patients are likely to want to book an appointment as soon as possible, so be proactive and call them as soon as you can safely restart treatment – it will help to get your appointment book filled and boost your cash flow.
- Create a mock-up diary. Think about the kinds of patients you will be seeing, who you will need to prioritise and how many hours you will need to allocate for different treatments. Consider whether you will need to open different hours or have special blocks or days, such as a section dedicated to children’s appointments. Making a mock-up will help you to get it right for the real thing.
These nine tips are just some of the proactive, practical things you can be doing now in order to make the best of the situation. The tough time we are all going through will pass, and if you use this time wisely, you will be in the best possible position to provide care to your patients and keep your business moving forwards.
Louise Bone has been a Regional Support Manager for Practice Plan Group, a leading provider of practice-branded dental plans, for over six years and has 17 plus years’ experience in dentistry including five in practice. Practice Plan has helped hundreds of dentists make a successful move to private dentistry. If you’re looking for more independence or freedom from the NHS and a more fulfilling and rewarding future, call 01691 684165 or visit www.practiceplan.co.uk