For independent dental practice owners nationwide, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a double dose of anxiety: disruption in patient care, plus the discomfort that comes with lack of control. While this situation is unprecedented, practice leaders still can exercise control in how they leverage their time and prepare for the future. By being proactive and productive now, your practice may be better positioned for the “new normal.”
1. Take part in remote education.
- Catch up on C.E. by taking online courses through your state dental association or trusted sponsors. The Dentists Supply Company (TDSC) has curated live, interactive C.E. courses from its manufacturer partners and other ADA CERP-recognized providers at TDSC.com/ce. Sharpen your skills on clinical and practice management topics at your convenience.
- Self-teach to become more comfortable with tech or topics that you normally don’t have time to explore. Learn more about your office’s software or equipment. Video tutorials can help you better understand billing and patient scheduling programs, so you can leverage overhead cost calculations and outstanding treatment reports.
2. Assess your supply inventory.
- Audit your central supply with the latest ADA and CDC guidance in mind. Infection control and disposable supplies will continue to be in high demand when routine practice operations resume. Be prepared for potential shortages by allowing ample time for delivery, strategically scheduling patients and taking steps to reduce waste. Preserve the safety and reliability of your materials by ordering from authorized sources, as well as setting clear staff guidelines for PPE use.
- Seek simple ways to reduce overhead expenses. Request a free custom price comparison against your current invoices at TDSC.com/pricecompare. The TDSC team can uncover product-by-product savings potential for the same supplies within five business days.
- Check for expired, unusable or unlabeled supplies. When disposing of pharmaceuticals, follow EPA guidelines or contact the manufacturer for guidance. Dental association members can also save when restocking pharma through negotiated savings and free shipping at TDSC.com.
3. Get equipment up to speed.
- Review maintenance logs and inspect equipment for signs of wear or needed repair. If needed, begin calculating replacement costs as part of your return-to-practice financial planning, so future productivity won’t be compromised by inefficient or frustrating-to-use tools.
- Evaluate potential needs for new equipment. As you re-assess infection control protocols and clinical efficiencies, you may want to adopt an instrument management system (IMS) to more easily track and sterilize instruments. Or, invest in equipment that allows you to better mitigate the risks of aerosol generating procedures.
- Keep informed of upcoming regulations that impact your practice, from human resources to prescribing to EPA mandates. The deadline to comply with amalgam separator installation and documentation is July 2020, and TDSC can help you secure an easy-to-install separator at a significant discount in time.
4. Update patient communications.
- Review your website to confirm that all links are working and information is accurate. Are the dental team members’ photos and names current? Does the patient experience represented align with your office’s current situation and anticipated availability?
- Check your outgoing message or answering service to ensure that patients are receiving clear instructions on how to reach you and what to expect. Also, check automated texts or emails for appropriate appointment confirmation, reminder and cancellation messaging.
- Review your recurring patient email and document templates for new needs, such as sharing PHI digitally and connecting with referral sources.
5. Get ahead of return patient scheduling.
- Check charts to determine who is overdue for routine care and who has missed appointments, so you can immediately begin trying to fill the schedule when the office’s reopening date is anticipated. When reviewing charts and schedules, prioritize patients who are mid-treatment.
- Flex your scheduling to give patients and staff a little more time and space. When possible, build in time for additional disinfecting measures and stagger appointments to avoid crowded waiting areas.
- Start planning staff training in advance of re-opening. If there are processes or protocols that need improvement, you may now have the time to be strategic in your approach to training. It’s an opportunity to re-evaluate issues caused by speed in the past – like incomplete documentation or treatment templates – and make them right.
6. Take care of your total health and wellbeing.
- Practice self-care and be attentive to your mental health. Try guided meditation through a mobile app, do yoga and stretching exercises at home, or take a walk or ride a bike, keeping in mind the COVID-19 advisories for your state, county and city.
- Keep connected to your dental community. Through social media and relationships built through organized dentistry, you have a support system of colleagues and experts who are sharing many of the same stresses – and who are working together toward recovery.