The business outlook is challenging at the moment, but Ben Flewett Managing Director at dental software experts Software of Excellence, a Henry Schein One brand, urges practice owners to prepare for the future.
Even as practice doors slam closed, in an unprecedented situation that I don’t believe any of us thought we would see in our lifetimes, we should already be thinking about how businesses can bounce back to recovery and achieve future prosperity.
A positive future
As a business owner, when catastrophe happens it can be difficult to remain positive about the future, but when we consider some statistics, it is clear that there is cause for optimism.
A two-month shutdown for the average UK practice will result in a revenue loss in the region of £80,000. On average UK practices are 79% utilised, but if on re-opening utilisation could be raised to over 90% it would be possible to recoup more than 85% of lost revenue within a year.
So, the question is, how do you prepare for and deliver increased utilisation that will enable such a recovery?
A full diary from Day One
Utilisation is dependent on ensuring a steady flow of patients, so to ensure patients attend from Day One it’s necessary to build a diary management plan.
It’s easy, when your practice has been closed for a prolonged and unforeseen period, to fall into the trap of filling the diary with any type of appointment, particularly in this case with check-ups that have been missed during lockdown. However, I urge you to plan carefully and use the tools within EXACT dental software to manage your diary and prioritise three key groups of patients that will help your practice on the road to recovery:
- Existing patients requiring restorative work
- New patients
- Existing patients requiring check-ups
It is likely that during the shutdown there will have developed a pent-up demand for restorative treatment. If, on re-opening, you are unable to meet this demand it is likely that patients will go elsewhere. Similarly, if competitor practices are less well prepared for the upsurge, you may be able to pick up new patients in search of treatment. You can use the Care Manager module within EXACT dental software to schedule open treatment plans, which will help you manage restorative treatment work most effectively.
You should also use your dental software to build lists of patients who have missed check-ups during the shutdown, but it’s important that you do not schedule all of these at once and block the diary. When patients call to book a routine check-up, use short-notice list functionality to fill gaps that cannot be taken up with restorative cases. In this way patients requiring check-ups will be contacted automatically via text when their appointment is due.
Dentistry is part of a wider healthcare profession and taking care of those less able patients at this time says a lot about your practice ethos. Consider creating specific times and days when patients
over 70, or those who are categorised as ‘vulnerable’ in terms of coronavirus, are able to attend for check-ups or ongoing treatment in a safe environment.
Moving towards re-opening
As we move through the lock-down and cases start to decrease you should open up phone lines and online booking that will allow you to triage patients according to need and then schedule appointments according to the above criteria.
The coronavirus pandemic has had a massive impact on businesses, but we believe the profession can emerge stronger from the challenge. Dental software specialist Software of Excellence is committed to helping dentists survive the current difficulties and we urge you to use this downtime to prepare for the future. Planning now will help your practice get back on track faster and better equipped to meet the needs of patients, from both a clinical and mental point of view.
To help you develop a re-opening plan, Software of Excellence is offering a Bounce Back review which will help identify the many dental software tools and best practice advice that can be used to prepare your business for the future. To book, visit https://softwareofexcellence.co.uk/bounceback/ and complete the form.
Visit our coronavirus hub for a list of upcoming webinars as well as help and resources https://softwareofexcellence.co.uk/covid19-updates/