Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Updated: Apr 7

Hello Drs, here is our 2nd Newsletter just for you

We believe that our focus needs to be in these key areas:

1) You the dentist

2) Your staff

3) Your patients

4) Re opening planning (we will continue this section in further newsletters)

1) You the dentist

Our best advice is to keep consulting with your accountant; complete a 90 - day cash flow; register for ATO tax breaks or government assistance & register for job keeper either for just your staff or for yourself as well.

The resounding guidance is to seek professional advice and don’t try to navigate the crises alone.

There is plenty of assistance at your fingertips, you just have to seek it out.

The critical issue is that you ‘take control’ of what you can do right now.

You are the ‘captain’ which means clear direction, communication and action steps start with you.

We also want to reinforce caution about ensuring that you follow ADA, Dental Board & AHPPC guidelines.

The risk of operating outside of current Level 3 restrictions to provide emergency care only is way too high. You risk your registration; insurance cover with the Guild; reputation; poor PR for your practice but most importantly you risk the health of yourself; staff and patients. No income generated from non - emergency care in this short term is worth any of this.

2) Your Staff

Consistent and regular communication with your staff is critical now and throughout the lock down, right up until you are all back in the practice working together again.

You need your team with you every step of the journey, so that re starting is a quick and simple process.

Your staff are as scared as you are.

They fear for their job and loss of income. They want to know that you genuinely care about their well - being.

Our thoughts on this communication are to take time to plan exactly what you are going to say:

- Timing of communication – pick working hours, not late evenings or weekends. This demonstrates respect & understanding of family needs right now.

- Tone of your communication – write out the words that you will use. They must convey true care & concern + a clear outline of what is happening with you, the practice, their job & patient care. We strongly suggest reading your communication out to someone else in your household for feedback before sending.

- Language used. This means knowing the type of words your staff need to see from you. Example maybe use the word ‘feel’ rather than ‘think’ and always phrase your words as ‘you’; ‘we’; ‘our’ and not ‘me’; ‘I’

- Frequency of communication – we would suggest weekly and when you have important updates to let your team members know about. Such as progress on the job keeper payments & when will they be paid & or when a payment has been made to them.

- Also offer for your staff to call you when and if they have any concerns. Much better to deal with these as they arise rather than let your team members ‘stew’ on anything that is bothering them.

- We have written more detail on understanding specific communication strategies between yourself and your team – go to - https://www.refocuseddental.com/post/know-yourself-know-your-team-effective-communication-strategies-with-your-team

The most frequently used words in our business have always been “never assume’. This applies more than ever now.

Never assume what your staff are thinking or feeling, what they know or don’t know. Take the time to communicate clearly and often.

Note

If you have officially ‘stood down’ your employees’ you can’t ask them to do any work for you during the practice shut down because this contravenes ‘stood down’ status.

If you have not ‘stood down’ staff officially (must be in writing to each individual employee) then you can negotiate individually and decide if they continue to do some work for a specific number of hours (up to job keeper payment of $1500 less tax) or whatever you agree together.

3) Your Patients

Have a fear of an uncertain future.

No matter what socio - economic group your practice location is, uncertainty is the primary concern.

Your patients own issues will relate to the health of their family; colleagues; community and country.

The financial impact on everyone will be with us for a long time ahead.

Our patients’ will be asking – ‘will there be a recession’?

We have been through recessions before but not when combined with a pandemic of this magnitude.

Patient communication is also very important. Remember that they will be bombarded with emails from banks; insurance companies; car sales companies etc, etc. It is on every companies to do list to contact their customers.

Therefore, when you are communicating with your patients’, you need to be different:

- Keep it short and to the point

For example; “ABC Dental Clinic, we are here for emergency care or call Dr on (mobile no) if you are concerned.

- Follow up communication could use a simple image with your clinic name

Keeping your communication simple and undemanding is the key.

You just want your patients to know you are thinking of them but not to be annoying.

4) Reopening Planning

We will progressively discuss reopening planning in future newsletters as there are many elements to work through.

There is a lot of expectation that there will be a massive resurgence in treatment when we can re - start. Hopefully 1st June but more likely 1st July, which is the 3 - month timeframe that the government has been talking about.

If this resurgence occurs, that is great. However, we must keep firmly in our minds that our patients’ have incurred debt during this time of lockdown with mortgage or rent; car payments; school fees; credit cards; etc; etc.

Will dentistry, apart from emergency needs be at the top of their list of spending?

So, what is the plan with our patients’?

- Recall programs are the priority plus patients’ who had ongoing treatment cancelled due to closure

We suggest that you call or text your recall patients and begin with patients due in March, April, May, June (assuming a re - start again in June).

- Prioritise patients with dental insurance cover and consider doing this at rebate only if you start to receive negative responses or as an incentive to return sooner.

- If patients are not wanting to re – book, then ask them when it is ok to recontact or book an appointment a few months in advance.

- We would recommend keeping any unplanned ongoing treatment following their recall appointment, very simple because your patients will be concerned about their finances.

- It is much better to retain your loyal, regular patients than send them ‘running out’ of the practice after presenting expensive treatment options and never see them again.

Recall Patient Item Nos

Here are all the Item Nos that you can utilise for a recall patient to maximise the patient rebate and your income from these patients’.

- Periodic examination 012

- Periodontal charting 221

- Radiography – B’Ws & periapicals 022 per x ray

- Pulp vitality testing 061 per appointment

- Scale, clean & prophy 111

- Oral hygiene instruction 141

We use intraoral cameras; photos & radiographs for the ‘seeing is believing approach’ and explain fully any proposed treatment.

Always be mindful to detail exam results as prescribed in the ADA Item Number handbook. These are protocols that must be followed.

A separate consultation appointment is often required following a recall with documentation of this discussion and a quotation for any further treatment options.

Follow Up Consultation Item Nos

- Diagnostic models 071 per model

- Photographic records 072 intra oral

- Photographic records 073 extra oral

- Diagnostic wax up 074

- Diagnostic modelling 075

- Consultation 014 or 015

Summary

Each week is another step forward.

We will stay with you until you are back in business again.

Please email any questions to [email protected]

In this together.

Kind Regards Dr Jon Kozeniauskas and Erica King

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