Let’s look at some of the top resources related to regulatory standards, PPE, and human resources.
This is an excellent resource to review with the dental team. There are guidelines for coming back to work, screening your patients and a daily log for assessing the health of your team. To view the guide and updates from ADA, click here.
Practice Finances – With all of the parameters of applying and utilizing your PPP funds, it’s imperative that you have an accounting firm that understands your specific needs as a dental practice owner.
If there were ever a time to have a Dental CPA, that time is now. If you have been following our Dental Practice Recovery Blog, you are familiar with Trent Watrous of WSW CPA’s in Nashville, TN. His firm is excellent and provides expert accounting and transition advice to dentists and has been a wonderful resource during this time.
Another resource is the Academy of Dental CPAs. This is a national academy of certified public accountants with expertise specific to the dental industry.
Applying for the PPP loan and accepting it were only the beginning of the decisions related to PPP. Knowing how you can spend the funds on and the best ways to track those expenses will be imperative for any loan forgiveness. If you don’t already have a CPA with dental expertise, now is the time to find one.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – There are so many resources out there offering guidance and direction on this vitally important topic. Stay tuned into the American Dental Association’s recommendations on PPE. At the time of this posting these are two vital links to documents. The first is the ADA’s Interim Guidance on Face Masks and Shields and the ADA’s Interim Guidance for Minimizing the Transmission of COVID19. Here’s another great resource on PPE from the Willeford Group.
One of the greatest challenges that dental practices are facing is gaining access to appropriate PPE. Forbes published an interesting article in regards to 3D printing, masks, and face shields. Checkout the article and also the link to HP Templates for many masks and face shields.
Human Resources – Bringing back your team has more dynamics than simply letting them know when you are reopening. This pandemic really shined a light on the difference between practices who have a comprehensive and compliant employment manual. Many of those who do not are struggling with decisions related to how to handle team members, especially those who were marginal in their overall performance.
If you aren’t already working directly with a Dental HR firm, now is the time to begin. One of the best resources out there is CEDR HR Solutions. Be sure to check out their Practice Guidance for Employers Handling the Coronavirus. In addition, CEDR is offering a complimentary HR Vault which includes a sample letter to invite your team back and much more.
Electronic health history and screening forms: If you are not already utilizing these, get with your practice management software company and your patient relationship management system. You want your pre-screening, check-in, and payments process to be as smooth and paperless as possible. As an example: customers of Weave have been given Covid19 Tools. If you use a similar service reach out and ask them to direct you to their processes for curbside check-in, digital pre-screening forms, and text to pay features.
Waitless Reception Area – Be sure to follow your state and local guidelines on whether patients can wait in the reception area after their temperature is taken and screening is done. In many areas, there can be no more than one patient per provider in the building. Because of this, be sure your patients know the process for checking in virtually (phone or text) and what to expect when they arrive. This is a wonderful opportunity to create videos from the doctors to be placed on social media and also emailed and texted to patients prior to their appointments.
Evaluate Your Numbers – Before you make any big decisions regarding your team and your office hours, look at your numbers. In almost every case your overhead is not going down. With enhanced PPE and potentially allowing more time for certain appointments, you will need at least, if not more, than your prior collections each and every month.
Charge a nominal PPE Fee – Consider charging a small fee, $10 or $15 for appointments involving a greater level of PPE. You may bill the insurance companies yet it is unlikely that many of them will reimburse in the immediate future. The code to use is D1999. Be sure that the team is prepared to let them know, that due to heightened safety measures, an enhanced PPE fee is being charged for the additional supplies and protocols for the appointment. Let them know that you will file it to the insurance yet are not sure at this time if it will be covered.
Consider Raising Your Fees – In most cases, I would look at a 1-3% increase to handle additional PPE as well as potential reduction in chair time.
High Value Scheduling – Be sure that the team is not only aware of practice goals but also aware of how to schedule. High Value operative pre-blocks may need to be increased and non-emergency, lower production procedures will need to be scheduled further out.
Same-Day Dentistry and Increased Payment Options
Be on the lookout for same-day treatment possibilities both the day prior to as well as the day of patient appointments. Having options for lower monthly payments will greatly increase the likelihood of patients wanting to maximize their trips to your office. Be sure your team is ready for the discussions and speaks to the patient in terms of monthly payments versus making blanket statements regarding third party financing. Also, for practices utilizing CareCredit, they have a special rate from May through July 2020 that allows patients to have interest free financing for 18 months at the 12 month rate.
Dollar Per Chair Hour and PPO’s – Many practices will find themselves wanting to minimize their PPO participation based on the potential limitations for capacity. Now is an excellent time to evaluate this. Use caution in immediately going out of network. Choose one or two plans and begin to have conversations with patients on those plans that due to limitations in capacity, your schedule will not allow the time needed to adequately treat patients at the in-network benefit rate. Assure them that you value their relationship and want to continue to be their dental practice. These conversations are best held face-to-face and the team should rehearse them. Making a knee-jerk decision to immediately go out of network can have significant consequences to your patient base and cash flow. Be sure to allow enough time for planning and communication.
There are so many important factors to consider when re-opening and ramping back up. Above all, be safe. Check back from time to time as new resources and updates will be made to this guide.