Your initial rush of patients has been into the office to have their dental work taken care of, and now you are finding some openings in your schedule that you haven’t really experienced before. Can we blame it on patients being afraid to come back because of COVID or is there something else going on?
You will first want to check out the following points before you decide where to put your energy for filling your schedule.
- Is your team using positive verbiage when connecting with patients about coming in or are they using verbiage that is allowing patients to fall into their fears? If they are saying “Are you ready to come in yet,” they are planting the idea that the patient should have fears. You will want them to say, “We are looking forward to showing you the changes in our office, would you like a morning or an afternoon appointment?”
- When patients are in with the hygienist is outstanding work or any new problems being discussed? Everyone is uncomfortable in the PPE and want appointments to be completed as soon as possible. Ensure that you and your team are taking the time to connect with the patients and have these discussions.
- In your morning meeting are you discussing in advance any outstanding diagnosed work for patients that are in that day? Work diagnosed prior to COVID needs to be reinforced.
- Has the role of your treatment coordinator changed to the point that patients aren’t receiving the follow up and consultations that they had in the past? Ensure that her time and successful systems from pre Covid are being put in place.
- Is your team even getting to treatment follow up (both major or basic restorative) because they are now doing COVID screening and check in and not getting to their lists on your software? If this is the case, hire a non-dental team member to be taking care of check ins so that your trained team members can take care of booking the productive work for your office.
- Are you diagnosing differently now than you were pre COVID? I have found that many dentists have changed their patterns without realizing it and aren’t diagnosing some of the major restorative they did in the past either due to their own anxiety about COVID or because they are worried that patients may not go ahead with treatment. Review your own diagnosing and see if pre and post COVID diagnosis techniques are aligned.
- We all are aware that the economy has changed, do your payment options reflect thoughts to customer service or do they reflect what has always been your policy in the past? You may want to consider assignment now (with the patient paying the co pay at the appointment time) and payment plans to reflect our current economic state. This is a value add for patients who may be embarrassed as to what COVID has done to their financial cushion.
- Ensure that all of your patients who missed appointments while you were closed have been contacted to come into the office to get them back on their interval schedule.
There are many more reasons that your chairs may not be as busy as they were in the past but don’t necessarily blame it just on people being afraid of the dentist because of COVID, look clearly at your practice and ensure that you are helping patients return to the dentist. Connect with me if you have any questions on how to implement this in your practice.