Now that states are slowly reopening, many health procedures and clinics are resuming care. Dentists are on that list and can now resume some care put off because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But what can you do when getting back into providing care for your patients? We compiled some tips to help.
Improve patient communication
This tip is important even when a pandemic is not happening, but we cannot emphasize this enough. Communication is key. Take the time to train your team members on how to respond to patients with empathy and concern. For example, when a patient asks a question say, “That’s a good question. Let me get you the answer.”
Being polite, helpful and positive during patient interactions will help patients relax and feel better about receiving care after the stay-at-home orders are removed. This will help patients feel a stronger connection to the practice and will be more likely to schedule treatment.
Focus on exceptional patient service
It is important to remember that patients are going to be stressed. Some might even be scared the first time they come back into your practice. That’s OK if they are. This is where exceptional patient service comes into play. It is critical to do everything you can to put your patients at ease.
For example, patients will be nervous about sitting too close to others in the reception area. To help, space seating at least six feet apart to alleviate those concerns. You might also consider throwing away those old magazines that could be harboring germs. Another option is to offer free Wi-Fi for patients to enjoy while they wait. That limits the amount of surfaces patients are touching while waiting.
Update your hours
When patients get back to work, it can be difficult for them to take time off. If you want to reach them where they’re at, try updating your hours. That means patients will likely look for early morning, evening or even weekend appointments. If you can, I would suggest altering your schedule for the time being to accommodate more patients in this transition.
It might help to keep track of patients who ask for times outside of your normal hours. With that list, you can continue to do your best to accommodate those unique requests. Remember, making it easier for patients to schedule appointments will keep them coming back.
Rethink your schedule
We have been comfortable with overlapping patients in our schedule by at least 10 minutes at times. While one patient was in your chair, another was waiting in the reception area. This has helped patient flow for a long time, but it won’t be appropriate in our current situation, regardless if we are in the middle of a pandemic or post COVID-19.
Try to schedule five to 10 minutes between start time to limit the number of people in the reception area. You can also ask patients to call your office when they arrive and wait in their car instead of coming in right away. Once the dentist is ready, then you simply text or call the patient and welcome them into the office.
There is a lot to think about as you reopen, but you are not alone. We all need guidance as we navigate these uncertain, unusual and challenging times. Please reach out if you have any questions. I am happy to share how I have adjusted my office to meet the changing needs we have encountered during the COVID-19 pandemic.