Dentists are eager to open their offices and start takin’ care of business. There are many considerations that dentists must do to prepare to start seeing patients again.
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Communication with the dental team, patients, and parents is critical at this time. The lines of communication can remain open even though we cannot meet face-to-face. Paul Edwards, of CEDR Solutions, suggested meetings be held online. Regular meetings can be scheduled through Zoom or other digital meeting resources. It is important to be prepared for the meeting.
- Have an agenda
- Have someone take notes
- Share the notes afterward
- Document results
The team may also consider having a digital gathering to discuss personal life and relax. Practice owners should consider checking on staff individually. This can help make team members feel appreciated and can help address any concerns for the office that need to be addressed.
Keep the patient’s parents informed by showing them positive information to let them know what the office is doing to stay current. It is a great time to educate parents through social media. Do Experiments or a Presentation on Facebook Live
- Do experiments or a presentation on Facebook Live
- Videos (office tour)
- Blog posts
- Before and after photos
- Treatments offered at the office
- Oral hygiene
- Share education materials
- Growth and development
- Harmful habits
- Prevention (sealants, fluoride)
- Dental trauma
- Infection control measures
During this time, it can be stressful for team members due to the closure. This can create fear due to uncertainty of when the office can reopen. To address the concerns, it is important to assign one staff member to evaluate and engage professional resources to stay on top of opportunities that may help the practice (Financial Opportunities for Dentists). Many laws and regulations are changing daily and can have a financial impact on the office. Having a team member assigned to evaluate these changes will ensure the impact is positive.
Check Office Supplies
It is important that the office has adequate supplies when it is set to reopen. Have a staff member organize and stock supplies and order any items that are necessary for patient care once the office opens. Some supplies may have expired due to limited shelf life and need to be replaced. There may also be new items that are required due to the CDC Guidelines with regards to personal protective equipment (PPE).
Some vendors are discounting items during this time. Keep in mind it is important to have a budget to maximize savings but not over-spend.
Be Ready to Run
After a month or two of closure, there are many kids that will have missed their routine recall appointments. Offices can anticipate a higher demand for routine care. Most of the restorative treatment from the office is diagnosed in recall exams. Increasing the number of recall exams will allow doctors to diagnose more treatments. It will also allow the practice to catch up on those patients that have missed their routine appointment. It is important to have additional time and people for the recall system to be successful. Some dentists may consider opening on days when the office is typically closed (a Friday or Saturday), or additional hours (before or after closure). These additional times will allow families to get back into routine dental care and allow the staff to have some extra income.
Start with the insurance-aging report. Most insurance plans will pay within a few weeks of receiving a claim. Outstanding claims may need supplemental information relating to treatment, coordination of benefits, or may have been sent but simply received by the insurance company. Tactfully following up on outstanding claims over 30 days can help the practice collect what was earned.
Consider offering financing options to patients. A small payment is better than no payment at all. Accounts can also be transferred to financing companies or collection agencies if necessary. Offices may want to consider lessening a payment for a patient at this time or reducing the balance if the patient can make a payment. This is also a perfect time for the team to meet with trainers digitally to practice financing scripts and addressing common financial barriers to care.
Cathy’s 10 Tips to Maximize Patient Financing
- Introduce the Program to Patients – Tell patients about the office’s financing program, stress the benefits!
- Newsletters – Communicate with patients through a practice newsletter and include information about financing – REPETITION is key.
- Brochures – Make an attractive brochure to introduce the office and what makes it special; include information about financing.
- Welcome Packet – Welcome patients to the office with some information and include an application for patient financing.
- Accounts Receivable Transfer – Transfer good accounts to a financing program, bad accounts can be sent to collections.
- Chart Audits – Check daily which patients have a treatment that has been diagnosed and needs to be completed. Use intraoral photos and focus on the benefits of completing care.
- Insurance – Help patients maximize their benefits so they don’t go to waste.
- Continuous Care/Hygiene – The recall system is the lifeblood of the office; make sure the office has good systems in place.
- Case Presentation – Introduce the financing program when discussing cases to make patients feel like they can afford treatment.
- Social Media – Communicate with patients on a regular basis in a cost-effective manner.
Dr. Cathy Jameson
Cathy Jameson, PhD, is the founder of Jameson Management, a management, marketing, and hygiene coaching firm, that helps dentists and teams increase productivity and profitability. As a speaker, she delivers entertaining and educational programs to audiences worldwide. Cathy is a best-selling author, including her most recent title, Creating A Healthy Work Environment.