Category: Author: Kaycie Smith
According to data from the American Dental Association, dentistry has been the healthcare industry hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, many states are now starting to reopen for elective dental procedures. This is great news, but the return to normal needs to be done with thoughtful preparation. Most states have provided guidelines to be followed. Along with those guidelines, we encourage the use of strong communication to the public on how your practice is handling the return. The communication needs to have a clear message about precautions you will be taking to keep them safe while at their appointment.
Your message should include two main points
- We are open for business.
- What safety precautions you are taking, including what you are doing for the “at risk” population.
How do you get the message out?
Clear and consistent messaging should be placed on your website and on your social media sites. We also recommend sending emails to your current patients. Here is an example the Spear Institute put together:
At [DENTAL PRACTICE NAME], we are continually focused on the health and well-being of our team and our patients. To ensure a safe and healthy environment for everyone, we have followed the direction of the CDC and American Dental Association by implementing the following and have also identified some ways in which you can help ensure a safe and healthy environment:
What we are doing
- We will be reviewing screening questions with each patient on the phone prior to your appointment and again when you arrive for your appointment.
- Each patient will have their temperature taken at check-in.
- Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the office.
- Each team member will be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). This PPE is an enhanced version to increase safety in our office.
- Additional time has been scheduled between appointments for a thorough and deep cleaning of the treatment room.
- The chairs and tables in the reception area are being wiped down every hour.
- We are implementing special appointment times for our most vulnerable patients.
- We are offering special appointment times for patients to condense multiple appointments into one block to limit the number of times required to come into the office.
- Offering new financial arrangements to help ensure affordable care.
What you can do
- Use the hand sanitizer station prior to check-in.
- Please leave family members at home to limit the number of people in the office.
- If you have a fever or feel sick, please let us know. We will reschedule your appointment for two weeks later.
- Maintain social distancing with 6 feet or more spacing from other patients and our front office team.
- When you arrive, call us from your car. We will let you know when we are ready for you so you can avoid the reception area and go straight back to a clean and sterilized treatment room.
- If you experience a fever or any COVID-19 symptoms within 14 days after your appointment, please call us and let us know.
- Tell your friends and family about your visit. We will provide the same healthy environment for them to have any necessary treatment completed.
We will continue to reach out and update you on a regular basis through various forms of contact. Please follow us on [SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS USED (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)] for up-to-date information, as well as tips and resources on how to maintain your oral hygiene at home during these times.
The above can be changed to include your specific needs.
The ADA has added a return to work toolkit to their site. It includes sample letters to patients, chair-side checklists, staff protection strategies as well as a patient screening form. All valuable for your return to seeing patients.
Details that should not be overlooked
- In-office communication with staff is key to making the return as seamless as possible.
- Change your phone message where needed.
- If using appointment reminder software, adjust the message where appropriate.
- Let patients know that up-to-date developments are posted as needed.
Get a game plan in place
Create a weekly calendar that outlines your communication plan for all touch points.
- Emails to patients
- Website messaging
- In-Office Communication
- Social Media
Ways Infinity Dental Web can help
Now, more than ever, is the time to make sure your social media is being utilized. We have social media managers that are trained to handle the COVID pandemic with proper messaging that will be tailored to your practice. It is important that you are getting the message out that your practice is taking all necessary precautions and social media is a great way to give weekly updates.
We have reached out to all our clients and offered to add popup messaging, and many of you have taken advantage of this no-charge service we have offered. A number of clients have elected to have that popup message contain a link to a patient letter explaining new safety precautions you are taking and special instructions for them. We can change that message and the accompanying letter as needed. To have your website messaging changed, just email those changes to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any questions, just call.
COVID-19 questionnaires can be added to your existing patient forms. Email email@example.com with a copy of your COVID form questionnaire. If you would like an option that allows patients to fill out HIPAA-compliant forms onsite that sync with software, let us know.
As always, we are here to help you any way we can.