To state that this time in the dental industry is unprecedented would be such an understatement. States have mandates to close dental offices (as well as other industries) until mid-May and mid-June. Others have strong recommendations from their state organizations and the CDC to limit patient care to emergent care only – which is pain related.
There are so many resources to determine what to do and how to handle this potentially devastating situation. Some of it borders on fake news sensationalism but the end result whatever the source is real. Dentistry is currently shut down in most parts of the country and will not come back as “business as usual”.
Like many, I have been listening to podcasts and webinars and reading articles from esteemed colleagues. There are some excellent, relevant and important resources that can help Doctors and Teams navigate through this storm.
Paul Edwards from CEDR HR Solutions is an excellent resource. He has a live broadcast on Facebook called HR Base Camp and is providing sound advice about dealing with employees and government aid.
Hopefully, doctors are working with a dental specific CPA who will have enhanced acumen to help doctors with financial strategies and bridge solutions during office closure. The Academy of Dental CPAs can help you locate someone that will suit you and your practice.
And what gives me solace during this time is the outpouring of caring and generosity from people working in the dental world. Some Doctors are more concerned about keeping their Team and their patients safe and what is going to happen to the Team that now have to apply for unemployment than their own safety and livelihood. Dental professionals are reaching out to help each other. Consultants are deferring or suspending their fees to stay on board and help their clients through this murky time in their practices. Supply houses, dental labs and banks are working with Doctors to lift their financial obligations during this time. At this time, generosity is prolific in our industry.
I am not licensed to provide legal or financial counsel, but there are great folks in our industry who can help and want to help. I can offer Doctors some non-legal suggestions. I can’t say I am coming from a place of experience because, like you, I haven’t experienced anything like this before.
Here are some ideas for your consideration:
- Your social media response is critical at this time. Don’t stop or slow down this communication tool. It’s time to ramp it up. This would be a good time to have live content on your site. Record a video from the doctor regarding that state of your office during this time. Keep it short – under two minutes. Call Janice Hurley or other experts on how to record a video that puts you in the best light. It might be fun to have your Team members record what they are doing with their time away from the office and send that on to your patients (if appropriate). You could even give your patients an update that your Team is all right and will be back when the closure recommendation is over.
- Avoid having everything on your social media be about the COVID-19 pandemic. Your viewers may like a break from all of the “noise”. How about posting why it will be so critical to return for their hygiene appointments? Although this procedure is not considered essential at this time, it is an important part of overall health and patients should get back on track as soon as they can.
- Use social media or your patient communication system (Revenue Well, Solution Reach, Lighthouse360, etc.) to send messages to Recare patients about future dentistry and future appointments. Give them tips on how to take better care of their mouths at home.
- This is a good time to spread good will. Doctors can call their patients to check in and let them know how much they matter. Having a system like WEAVE provides a HIPAA compliant system to reach out to patients and monitor the office from home. Utilize the text messaging feature provided by your patient communications systems to continue to keep in touch with patients.
- Set up a Zoom Meetings account for yourself and Team Members to have ongoing meetings while you are closed. Check in with each other weekly. Establish an agenda- rotate facilitator. Create a plan for your return. What do you want to do differently when you get back to work?
- Create an Office Book of the Month Club. Send each Team Member a book you would like them to read and learn how to improve the practice when you return? (I can give you a LOT of suggestions!) Maybe each Team member chooses a book of the month (hopefully there will only be one or two) to share.
This is not the time to quit but to recalibrate. Have a daily agenda of office items that require your attention. A new budget? Webinar training? Get online and watch a product demo of a new system or product. Is it time to develop a better plan for future growth?
Some people will stay stuck during this time and fall prey to depression and disappointment. It’s harder to start moving from a dead stop. Keep moving. Reach out to the exceptional resources that are offering assistance. Be prepared to lead the celebration when your practice returns to the new normal.
Debra is a speaker, trainer, and consultant and can be found at www.debraengelhardtnash.com.