Appeal to your demographics to ensure practice growth and community health

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Do demographics determine your practice growth during a pandemic? Analyzing demographic statistics in human populations has been used by manufacturers, automotive designers, political parties, government agencies, etc., on every product or service consumed. Marketing surveys, as well as private or government polls, are used to track the spending habits and lifestyles of the populace to determine what their needs and wants are in the marketplace.

During the pandemic, we have noted that some demographics are more at risk than others from COVID-19. That includes not only those older than 65 but also considerable numbers of ethnic and minority groups, people with disabilities and developmental and behavioral disorders, pregnant women, and those who have a mental illness such as Alzheimer's and dementia. Because dental health is essential to total well-being and bolstering the immune system, dental care must not be postponed for months or longer.

James Anderson, DMD.James Anderson, DMD.

Having a robust, detailed health history for every patient recorded in your software is key to understanding your patients' increased need for dental care and perhaps their reluctance to seek dental care during a pandemic. For example, Dentrix software has an updated health history module.

When you are more at risk for the virus, you are more apt to avoid the necessary care you need to keep healthy. Reaching out to those at risk for COVID-19, but also at risk for dental health decline, is a responsible way to serve your patient demographics. The demographic report will provide a breakdown of the ages of your patients in percentages. You will be able to see the number of your patients considered at risk for COVID-19. As of this writing, no active case of COVID-19 has been traced to a dental office. The risk is lowered by all our attempts to create a sterile and low-aerosol environment. There is also a recent presentation from the ADA about patient safety.

We are prepared to bring safe dental care, and we need to communicate this with our at-risk patients and the community openly.

Most comprehensive dental software programs can give you a demographic report or, in the case of Dentrix, a practice statistics report. The report provides you with a statistical snapshot of your practice to use to develop a strategic business plan. Included in the report are patient demographic information, your recall or continuing care statistics, new patient numbers, and the number of patients per provider.

If you have Dentrix software, you can generate the practice statistics report from the Office Manager by clicking Reports > Management > Practice Statistics Report. The report is sent directly to the batch processor.

Before the pandemic, patients avoiding the dentist because of fear of pain or other reasons has been an ongoing challenge. Since the prolonged shutdown, dental practices are feeling the pinch of lower numbers as patients warily return. As a dental community, we will succeed if we take the time and extra effort to appeal to all of our patients who need our help to stay healthy.

James Anderson, DMD, is a practicing dentist in Syracuse, UT, and is the CEO and founder of eAssist Dental Solutions. He can be reached via email.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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