We so hope that you are continuing to travel positively in the reopening phases.
The feedback we are receiving is mixed with some practices now back to full days and weeks and other practices finding the reopening very challenging.
The positive is again being reinforced via feedback from the major laboratories who are surprisingly busy from their key clients however labs are dropping off at the lower end of clinics.
A survey that we did by calling a few clinics found that the major issues from the patients’ for non - attendance is:
- Fear of contracting the COVID19 virus
- Financial concerns for the immediate future
We will go through some ways to work through these concerns in the Survival Strategies section of this newsletter.
1) Melbourne Clinic Closure
As you are aware a Melbourne dental clinic has had to close for 2 weeks after a staff member tested positive to COVID19.
The re start again for this clinic will now be even more difficult because regaining patient confidence will be extremely tough.
The lesson learned from this for all of us is that every team member must be vigilant in reporting symptoms and staying home if they experience even the mildest signs of a cold.
It is our strongest advice to:
- Take every team members’ temperature when arriving to the practice each morning
- Don’t be reluctant to send a team member home if needed no matter how difficult the day will be for the rest of the team
- Follow all COVID19 protocols to 110% of what is required. We can’t slip up on this
Checklist For Every Team Member – Every day:
- Temperature checks
- Hands sanitized
- Every team member including reception to wear – masks; gloves & protective glasses
- Everyone wears scrubs in the surgery and then changes before entering into the lunch/staff/reception areas
- All clinical staff to be wearing gowns
- All surfaces cleaned between patients in both reception & clinical areas
- Continue to adhere to social distancing
- Follow all ADA protocols
We just can’t do too much.
Every patient must be triaged and if they fail the temperature test they must be sent home immediately.
Yes, this is really tough but ‘leave no stone unturned’.
2) ADA Survey Results
The Victoria ADA latest member survey results are very sobering.
The main message here is that 25-50% of practices are in real fear of financial ruin if the current conditions remain for the next 2 to 4 months.
This is really grim data.
Our experience over the years has shown that most clinics are unique. Therefore, their individual situations may appear to be the same but the solutions may well require a specific approach.
Please read this next section on Survival Strategies and see what resonates for you.
Remember that our offer of assistance and advice is available to you right now.
This is a simple phone call which is completely free.
We have managed and survived all of these depressions before and a little help now be all that you need.
Don’t wait. Call us now.
3) Survival Strategies
These are our top strategies for you to action now:
- Phone every patient in your practice that is overdue for a recall, treatment, had to be cancelled before lock down. Please don’t send a text or email. Personal connection is vital right now so that you can speak with your patients, listen to their concerns, discuss options, treat them with respect and individual care.
Prior to calling, read the patient file. See exactly what treatment is outstanding for them, what concerns they might have had in the past so that you can discuss individually.
If patients are not wanting to make an appointment for any reason, then agree with them on when they would be ok to hear from you again.
- When making an appointment consider all these factors – do not just book treatment time
Appointment Time = Treatment Time + Communication & Education + Changeover, set up & COVID19 protocols
Time to communicate & educate with every patient is imperative. Take intra oral pics, x rays and then show your patients exactly what you are seeing, explain your concerns, highlight any urgent issues to address & focus on gum health, tooth decay plus preventative care now. Anything else can wait.
Example 60min Appt = 40mins treatment + 10mins communication & education + 10mins changeover, set up & COVID19 protocols
- Fee for your time and not just item nos. Item nos don’t reflect the degree of difficulty or time that a procedure can take.
So determine your hourly rate for planned productive treatment and work to that. Then as is medico legally required to do, list all item nos that are applicable to exactly what you have done in this time frame – no more and no less.
- Don’t rush your patients. Take time to listen to them, make them comfortable, give them some security in feeling safe to be in the practice. Utilize your clinical team to settle your patients before you, the dentist enter the surgery. Your team can find out very easily if the patient is worried about anything & communicate this to you.
- Balance the work mix of your appointment book. This will vary enormously from dentist to dentist. And will also vary if you work with a hygienist or therapist.
What you need to balance is – lower fee & higher fee work + procedures that create follow on treatment such as recalls & new patients & consults + the number of each type of procedure each day.
A structured, planned and managed appointment book makes the world of difference to productivity, efficiency & profitability.
Don’t just fill spaces with names.
- Patient financial concerns are a very real limiting factor for our practices’ right now. So why not just focus on the preventative care to start with at a lower cost to keep patients’ healthy. Actively promote the benefits to health of having teeth & gums in good condition & how this impacts on heart health, diabetes, immunity etc.
Encourage patients with health fund extras cover to use this to keep themselves healthy.
You can also offer some payment options such as Afterpay & Zip. Plus provide treatment plans that break down into manageable smaller appointments which are spaced out to best meet the patients’ financial needs.
We could spend hours with you on these and many other strategies.
Please keep looking after yourselves and each other.
We are here to help and support you.
Erica and Jon