At SOE, we continue to help and support dental practices navigate through the challenges of COVID-19 and the pressure this has put businesses under, as you deliver the best possible care to patients while safeguarding staff.
Today, the continued roll-out of the vaccination programme and the Government’s roadmap to help the country get back on its feet and for lockdown restrictions to lift means, at last, we are seeing some hope with some light at the end of this difficult and unprecedented time.
This inevitably may cause a different set of challenges, with the British Dental Association (BDA) recent research* showing that some patients are experiencing issues in accessing dental care and so as confidence grows there will be a much larger demand for dental care than we have seen over the last 12 months. So how can you prepare for this increased demand and manage it effectively for your dental practice?
Over the next few weeks, we will share a series of articles designed to help you prepare your dental practice for the future, sharing advice and tips as to how you can navigate the next few months and support your practice in getting back up to capacity quickly but safely.
As you slowly begin to increase your practice’s capacity to see patients, at SOE, we advise you to consider three key actions:
- Zone your diary
- Gain commitment from your patients
- Mitigate fear and risk
Zone your diary
Managing your dental practice diary is critical - allowing slots for pre-booked recalls, fallow times, emergency appointments and treatments.
Filling your appointment book allows you to prepare for the increased capacity, protect your average hourly rate and provides allowances for those unexpected patient needs for emergency dental care.
Gaining commitment from your patients is absolutely essential in terms of the actions you should be taken now to prepare for the months ahead and ensure you have a healthy practice.
Many dental practices don’t have their usual number of recall appointments booked in - so why not pick any month in the future and get those patients booked in now? Get your patients to commit to those appointments even if there is a risk that you might have to reschedule but have confidence in running those recalls no and set your patient expectations with clear communication. A number of practices will delay recalling their patients ("we'll start in a few months"). If a practice started recalling in May / June they are competing with - summer holidays, weddings, family events, Euro 2021, pubs, restaurants, parties etc. How far up the priority list will a routine exam be? This is why it's essential to start now and gain future commitment.
Mitigate fear and risk
Patients will naturally feel a little anxious about returning to their usual routine of dental examinations, however, a recent GDC Community Research survey** found that; survey respondents said that staff wearing PPE, providing information to patients and extra cleaning between patients were the most reassuring things that a dental practice could do to encourage their visit to the dentist. However, only 11% of respondents had been contacted by their dental practice.
Patients have adopted technology in all walks of their lives over the course of the pandemic. Research*** shows that 90% of UK adults now use a smart phone. 83% of those were aged 64-75 years, and they have adapted to be able to communicate during the pandemic. So use the power of your practice management software to mitigate the fear and risk of visiting the dentist and instil confidence.
We can help
At SOE we can help, our Customer Success Consultants can advise you on the actions you take now to prepare your dental practice and future proof your business. Talk to our team today and look out for the upcoming articles in this series for more helpful tips and advice.
*BDA: Healthwatch: 1,129 peoples experiences of accessing dental care received between Oct and Dec 2020.