We know that getting accustomed to the new personal protective equipment (PPE) protocols is going to be a big change for you and your team. Schedule some time where you can practice putting PPE on and taking it off, as well as doing the related things that you need to do so you are more comfortable once your practice opens.
Consider the changes that you may have planned a year or two ago. Is that direction still the same in this new environment?
I want you to think about your practice from a different standpoint, and that's from a patient experience perspective. Let me give you more details regarding the patient experience, as there are several things to consider.
We know your patients have seen the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studies and the news during the quarantine and shelter-in-place mandates. Since they may believe the virus is going to live on paper, your patients may not want to handle it like they did before. It is best to assume they are going to be concerned about contact with any common surface. With that in mind, I want to make a couple of comments. Now is a great time, no matter what software you use in your office, to switch to electronic forms. You could be putting them on your website using an online portal or an iPad in your office that can be wiped down with disinfectant between uses. There are so many different companies now that can help you with that process. I encourage you to investigate that because the less paper used in your practice the more your patients will feel at ease.
Look for opportunities to streamline the administrative portion of your workflow and keep patients from encountering one another. Payments may need to be received chairside, or before proceeding to the operatory, since there will no longer be waiting at the front of the office. Perhaps now is the time to incorporate different payment methods that you may have always wanted to do but did not think your patients would be open to the idea. By installing a "Pay Now" button on your website, or credit card swipers in your operatories, you will have this flexibility. As you can imagine, those are very popular options and can streamline a lot of your processes. There is also text-to-pay technology available as well.
Your clinical team should begin to input the treatment plan into your software in the operatory. In addition, they should learn some specifics about insurance to be able to answer patients' questions. Plan on using technology to its fullest extent to minimize paper as much as possible. There are many ways to do this. Get together with your team to share ideas on how to change items in your dental practice.
When it comes to your team, we already know that our dental assistants really influence treatment plan acceptance. I know that as soon as the doctor leaves the room patients will ask if they really need to have this treatment done. Your dental assistant gets bombarded with all these questions, so this is an opportunity for assistants to be like rock stars and knock the ball out of the park by knowing the answers and becoming an even bigger advocate for the dentist.
In order for your entire team to cohesively make this happen, your admin team is going to need to input all the information into the computer and figure out how you will communicate quickly between the front and back in case there is a question. Whether you choose to use a radio or a chat function on your computer, there are a lot of options available for you.
There are tons of resources out there for the clinical team to learn how to have financial conversations. Now is the time for you and your team to be focusing on those changes that keep your team and patients safe and comfortable in your practice. This is going to be new to all your patients so, whatever changes you are going to make, please make sure the correct expectations are explained upfront to your patients so that there are no surprises. We can assume that patients coming in are going to be concerned, and now is when you and your team build trust and alleviate the fears that they have of coming to your practice. I think this is just how business is going to be done from now on, so your team needs to be prepared.
I know I covered a lot of different topics. If there is something that I can help you with, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. Also, please listen to some of my additional thoughts on the topic below. Stay safe!
Lynne Leggett is the founder and CEO of Victory Dental Management. She has more than 25 years of business experience in several industries, including dentistry, medical, pharmacy, sales, transportation, logistics, and project management. Learn more about her and her services on the Victory Dental Management website.
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