Category: Author: David Hall
It is now 6 1/2 weeks since the American Dental Association recommended dental practices limit themselves to emergency treatment only and we are, for the third week in a row, seeing an increase in the number of appointment requests. This past week the increase was substantial—we are now seeing patient-initiated appointment requests rising to a level of 78% of normal.
For four weeks into these COVID-19 restrictions, they ranged from 30 to 36% of normal. Then the fifth week they were 45% of normal, then 48%, and last week, April 24-30, they were 78% of normal. Here’s the graph:
Significant this past week was the removing, in many states, of the restrictions on dental care. In Arizona our governor announced a week ago that effective today, there would be no more restriction of dental practices, as long as they followed certain guidelines and had at least a 14-day supply of personal protective equipment (PPE). Other states such as Georgia, Colorado, and Texas, where we have a number of clients, also reduced restrictions. However, while we didn’t break down our data, it appeared that appointment requests even increased in states like California and Kentucky where there were no reductions in restrictions.
I also wanted to report on a webinar I attended, sponsored by the American Dental Association, on the economic impact of COVID-19 on dentistry. They assembled a panel of experts and conveyed some excellent data as well as educated projections on the future. Here are some of the statistics they presented:
- For the week beginning April 20, collections were less than 5% of normal for over 75% of dental practices.
- The economic impact was less severe on practices of over 10 dentists.
- The estimated impact on dental utilization is a reduction of 28% to 37% for the year 2020, with some slight effects lingering into the next two years.
- When patients were surveyed and asked how many dental visits they anticipated having in coming months, their answers were optimistic. They didn’t anticipate any reduction in dental visits.
Here is a graph they presented on patient volume:
We will be continuing to watch this data. We expect a large increase in patient volume for next week. We’ll see.