Dental Office Tips and Suggestions Regarding COVID-19

Dental Office Tips and Suggestions Regarding COVID-19

Hello Friends,

With the Government guidelines and regulations regarding COVID-19 rapidly changing, it has been especially challenging for dental practices to know what the best way is to care for and protect their employees and their patients.

Earlier today I shared some suggestions, tips, and advice regarding COVID-19 with my coaching clients via emails and calls but I thought you all might find the information helpful as well so I am sharing here too.

While we don’t want to contribute to the panic that is happening all around us or create more fear in our patients’ lives – we need to be able to effectively communicate how we are following recommendations to keep employees and patients safe and healthy.

My biggest recommendation to you is to take a deep breath, remain calm and think before you act and make any decisions for yourself, the office, your employees, and your patients.

Some offices are choosing to remain open while others are closed due to State-mandated closures and/or strongly recommended suspension of nonessential and nonurgent dental care for 14 days.

Coronavirus Dental Practice Tips and Ideas from Dental Coach Betty Hayden

UPDATE: I know that many dental offices have made the decision to close the practice to all non-emergency appointments. Several have reached out to me asking what they can do to still be productive during this time to help grow and improve the practice. If you would like a list of recommended and suggested tasks and things to do during this “downtime” – please send me an email at bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com and I will get that out to you. 

Here are some questions, tips, and suggestions to consider whether you remain open, are at a reduced schedule, or are closed…

If you Remain Open:

  • Who can work and when?
  • Will you continue seeing hygiene patients?
  • Will you reduce the hours or days worked?
  • Will you
  • What will you say to patients calling with concerns?
  • How will you care for emergencies?
  • What is a true dental emergency?
  • What happens if an employee or the doctor gets sick?
  • What happens if a patient comes in for their appt and you suspect they are sick?
  • Do you have the supplies necessary to care for your scheduled patients?
  • Be sure that you hold times in the schedule to accommodate reschedules, emergencies, and NP’s
  • What happens if you need to close the office? Do you have a written protocol?
  • Do your automated electronic appointment reminders need to be adjusted?

If you Close the Office:

  • Who is responsible for rescheduling appointments? And what is the scripting?
  • Where will you reappoint the patients?
  • Do you need to pause your automated electronic appointment reminder system?
  • When will you reopen?
  • Who will answer the office telephone calls?
  • Do some employees still work in the office?  Who and what are their tasks?
  • Who will collect the mail? Who will post checks?
  • How will your employees be paid?

 Patient Communication

Write down what to say regarding:

  • Rescheduling Patients Appts
  • Patients Calling to Cancel/Reschedule
  • Patient Safety Protocols
  • Patients in the office with symptoms of illness
  • Patients that want to delay treatment
  • Office Closures
  • What is a dental emergency?
  • Preventive dental health home-care tips

The biggest thing to remember when communicating with your patients – is to reassure them that their safety and the safety of your employees is of utmost importance. By now, they all know what is going on and it’s no secret that big adjustments are being made all over. If any appointments need to be rescheduled, assure them you are making arrangements so they won’t have to wait too long for an appointment. Be real with them but don’t cause any unnecessary panic. It’s best to keep messages simple and helpful.

In-Office Appointments

  • Patients should not come to the office if they have any cold/flu-like symptoms.
  • Request that patients call or text from their car when they’ve arrived for their appt.
  • Advise patients to not bring in anyone else with them to their appt.
  • Remove from the reception room any difficult to clean items (books, magazines, toys, beverage station items, etc).
  • To minimize exposure, avoid having patients stop at the front desk at appointment arrival and dismissal. Rather, do all that you can from the treatment room (ie: Scheduling and Collecting Payments).
  • Make the most of each appointment – Continue to provide the very best experiences for every patient. If you can care for any diagnosed treatment needs while they’re there instead of reappointing them that would be great.

Stay in Touch

  • Patients with scheduled appts – reach out to your scheduled patients with what you’re doing to help keep them safe at their appt.
  • Older Patients – Check in on your elderly patients to see how they are doing.
  • Appointments – Keep careful track of all cancelations, broken appts, and reschedules!  We don’t want any patients slipping through any cracks
  • Social Media – Use your social media platforms to stay in touch with your patients as well as with potential patients. SEE Dental Practice Social Media Platform Tips and Content Ideas.
  • Create short Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram videos with at-home preventive dental care tips and a video or post(s) to answer the questions: what is a dental emergency?/ what to do in a dental emergency?

  During Downtime or Office Closures

  • External and Internal Marketing Plans (critically important for the growth of the practice especially in times like this) – Create your plan to exceed current patients’ expectations, welcome more new patients, retain and reactivate patients, as well as build relationships within the community.  SEE Dentist Office Leadership, Practice Management, and Marketing Tips and Ideas for April 2020
  • Office Cleaning and Organization – SEE Is Your Dental Office Pastdue For A Cleaning?
  • Continuing Education and Training – spend some time together as a team to watch dental education webinars and on-line courses, team role-play, and create and refine new office protocols, and systems.

Employee Illness Policy

Employees experiencing influenza-like-illness (ILI) (fever with either cough or sore throat, muscle aches) should not report to work.

What is your policy for employees who become ill?

Who will cover for that employee and how?

Doctor Illness

If the doctor is diagnosed with COVID-19 (or any illness suspected of possibly being COVID-19) what is your plan for patient care?

Temp Employment Agencies

Even if you don’t have a need right now to use a temp agency you may need one soon. Who do you call? How do they work? It would be wise for you to create detailed job descriptions and protocols for each department should you need to bring someone in temporarily.

Supplies

Do you have the necessary supplies to care for your scheduled patients? If not, are you able to obtain the supplies in time?

Remote Computer Access

Should the office be closed, are you prepared to access your PMS at home? Who can access this information?

Employees working from home

What is expected of the team over the period working from home?

Which jobs and tasks are essential, and which can wait?

Overhead

Now is a good time to review all overhead expenses.  Evaluate all categories for any possible reduction opportunities.   If you don’t know your overhead percentages or recommended benchmarks I strongly encourage you to learn this information.

Review your business interruption coverage

Do you know the details of your insurance policies? Immediately speak to your insurance expert and get detailed information about your business interruption coverage.  What is covered?  What is the amount of coverage?  What is the deductible?  When does it kick in?  A 14-day interruption for self-quarantine might not be covered.

I understand that this most likely doesn’t answer all of your questions and concerns but I hope it does help some.

Don’t miss out on any of the ideas that I share each month! Are you receiving my complimentary Practice Management and Marketing Ideas in your email each month? If not, please start following us today. If you prefer, send me your email address (to bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com) and I will send you an invitation to follow my blog.

Sending you wishes for health, safety, and much happiness!

Yours for Greater Success,

~Betty – Dental Coach

UPDATE: I know that many dental offices have made the decision to close the practice to all non-emergency appointments. Several have reached out to me asking what they can do to still be productive during this time to help grow and improve the practice. If you would like a list of recommended and suggested tasks and things to do during this “downtime” – please send me an email at bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com and I will get that out to you. 

Dental Coach Betty Hayden Tips and Ideas to improve dentist office

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Tips and Ideas for Successful Monthly Dental Team Meetings

Tips and Ideas for Successful Monthly Dental Team Meetings

Hello Friends,

How do you feel about monthly team meetings? Do you avoid them? Do you feel like they’re a waste of time? If you do, you’re not alone. In fact, I may have heard a few doctors say they’d rather… go to the dentist than conduct a team meeting. 😉 Sorry, that was bad.  It is true though that many people have had enough bad meetings that they dread team meetings to the point of not having them at all.

Why are regular team meetings so important?  Because when conducted effectively they help to keep the team all on the same page and working toward the same goals and mission which leads to success.  Isn’t that what we all want?

Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance

Betty Hayden Consulting Dental Coach

Which reminds me – in addition to monthly team meetings, daily huddles are critical to having more productive, happier, and less stressful work-days. If you’re not holding daily huddles or if you need some ideas to help them be more effective please visit here: Dental Office Morning Huddle Agenda Tips and Ideas

Some offices choose to conduct more frequent team meetings and/or weekly department meetings and that is totally fine but knowing that so many offices are not regularly conducting monthly meetings or not even yearly meetings – we’re taking baby steps here by recommending they get started with monthly team meetings.

Here are some tips and ideas to help you conduct effective monthly meetings.

how to conduct effective dental team meetings

Schedule – Schedule your monthly team meetings well in advance.  If we don’t reserve some time each month for the meetings life tends to get in the way and crowd out any opportunities to meet as a team.

How much time should you reserve? Ideally, one and a half to a two-hour block of time but if you can’t spare that much time to start, reserve one hour.

Assigned Leader – Rotate who leads the monthly meetings so it isn’t always the same person.  There is no reason for the meetings to only be conducted by the doctor or the office manager. Give everyone on the team the opportunity to take the lead on this.

Preparation – Post the date of the next team meeting as well as an agenda sheet. Encourage the team to add to the agenda.  All team members should arrive at the meeting on time and prepared to contribute.

At the start of the meeting record:

  • Today’s Date:
  • Team Member’s Present:
  • The meeting note-taker is:
  • Meeting time-keeper is:
  • Who will pass notes to team members not present:
  • Next months meeting will be conducted by:

TO BE CONSIDERED

Open with Positive Comments & Commendation (2-5 minutes)

  • Each employee must contribute a positive comment/experience about someone or something in the office.

Role Play / Training (5 minutes) – Topic Suggestions: Telephones, Treatment Plans, Financial Presentations, Hand-Off, New Product/Service, Etc.

Agenda Items (15 minutes) Topic, Name of Person, the Estimated time needed to discuss

Note: If you see that there is an agenda item written down to be discussed at your next team meeting and it is something that can be handled prior to the meeting or it is something that needs to be addressed with an individual employee please don’t save it for the team meeting – take care of it now.

Growth – Ideas for Improvement  (5 minutes)

Potential Stumbling Blocks – Concerns (remember to bring a solution with your concern) (5 minutes)

Numbers – Goals Vs How We’re Doing (5 minutes)

  • Production
  • Production Per Visit
  • Collections
  • Pre Appointment Percentage
  • Reviews
  • New Patients
  • Daily Open Chair Time

What’s Going On – Office News/ Office Happenings (2 minutes)

Marketing & Relationship Building – Marketing Status & Upcoming Plans  (5 minutes)

Action Items –  What? Who? When?  What is the Action Item? Who is responsible for making sure it happens? When will it be completed or is it ongoing?

Have you ever decided to implement a new idea and nothing ever happens with it? Most often this is because the expectations weren’t clearly defined and no one was assigned to see it through to completion.  We must work together to gently hold each other accountable for accomplishing the action items.

Meeting Conclusion – Closing Commendation & Positive/Happy Video or Quote – each month a different team member is assigned to contribute the next meeting’s positive/happy quote or video.

A few more tips and ideas…

Atmosphere – The atmosphere for these meetings should be warm and welcoming. This is a safe space where team members aren’t afraid to share their thoughts and ideas.

Stay in Control and on Topic – If you find that the team is going off-topic or a subject is taking longer to discuss than planned, please either bring everyone back on track and/or move that subject/topic to be discussed at a later date.   It is all too easy to lose control if we are over-discussing a topic because we don’t have 100% agreement from all team members… that’s not likely to happen so make a decision and move on.

Employee Conduct – Everyone not only arrives at the meeting on time, but they are also prepared to contribute.  Cell phones should be put on silent and away. We respect the person talking by not talking over them, not interrupting them or whispering to another employee.  Oh, and this isn’t the time to catch a quick nap.

The start of the new year is the perfect time to create a new habit for the team – regular monthly team meetings!   If you have questions or concerns about monthly team meetings – please reach out to me. I’m happy to help.

What are your practice goals for 2020? I would love the opportunity to work along with you and your team to help you set and exceed your practice goals. If you would like to schedule a complimentary telephone consultation to learn how our coaching program works, please email me at bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com.

Are you receiving my free Dental Leadership, Practice Management, and Marketing Ideas in your email inbox each month? If not, please follow today or send me (bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com) your email address and I will send you an invitation to follow. This way, you won’t miss a single idea.

Yours for Greater Success,

~Betty

dental practice tips and ideas from Betty Hayden Consulting

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Dental Insurance Benefits (Use it or Lose it) Reminders, Tips, and Ideas

Dental Insurance Benefits (Use it or Lose it) Reminders, Tips, and Ideas

Hello Friends,

It’s that time of year when we should start sending out dental insurance use it or lose it reminder letters regardless if your patients are ready to hear that or not.

The month of September is a great month to get started on your “Use it or Lose it!” letters and emails out to your patients. This is for all of your patients that have dental benefits that renew on January 1st and/or patients with FSA or HSA dollars that expire at the end of the year.

end of the year dental maximum renewal reminders

Especially helpful for your patients that are /pastdue/due/or due this year for their hygiene visit and/or with treatment that is yet to be started or needs to be completed and their remaining dental insurance maximums are getting ready to expire.

Time to remind them to Use it or Lose it! – Get your letters, emails and text messages out to your patients reminding them to use any insurance benefits they have remaining for the year to complete any needed treatment or for their continuing care hygiene appointment before they lose them.

Remember, the closer it gets to the end of the year the more difficult it becomes to get them to schedule and you may not even have room in your schedule to accommodate them.

Your goal is to get them from the filing cabinet/computer to the schedule!

Personalize  – When mailing out remaining maximum letters, be sure to customize for each patient according to their treatment plan. This will help to re-create the urgency and value for treatment.  For some patients, it will take some type of additional incentive to get them to act. Perhaps, include a gift certificate for $ off of their treatment if it’s completed and paid for by December 31st. Not redeemable for cash. Or the opportunity to enter a raffle for a really great prize!

Need ideas for what to include in the reminder letter? Feel free to email me at bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com and I will send you a sample letter that you can customize for your office. 

Take this opportunity to add a P.S. message to the end of your letter, telling your patients all about your specials on teeth whitening. Many people at this time of year are looking to whiten their teeth for their end of year celebration family photos, or to buy gifts for family and friends.

For example… 

P.S. Now is a great time to whiten & brighten your smile for your end of year celebration photos. We have some fantastic whitening specials! Teeth whitening gift cards also make a wonderful gift.

P.P.S. Did you know we are on Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter? “Like” us on Facebook at … and “follow” us on Instagram, and Twitter at …  / This way you can stay up to date with all our office events & news plus have a chance at exclusive offers & contests.

Mailing Tip –  Use a bright-colored envelope and neatly hand-write the name and address. Use a “live” stamp. This will take a little more time to do but your patients are more likely to open an envelope that looks like it’s from a friend and not their dentist.

Phone Calls – About a week after you mail out your letters, go ahead and start calling them to see if they received the letter and to schedule them an appointment.

Document – Be sure to document that a letter was mailed, phone calls were made and what type of response you received from each patient.

Important Reminder – Before sending out these letters and making calls to your patients be sure to review your upcoming appointment schedule… Where is your open chair time? Will pre-blocking some open time be helpful? Also, before scheduling last-minute appointments that require lab work at the end of the year be sure to communicate with your lab guy/gal that they can, in fact, get these cases back to you in time.

Social Media – Use your social media platforms to remind your patients to use their dental benefits before the end of the year.

Betty Hayden Dental Coach End of Year Insurance Renewal Reminders

Wishing you all a full schedule for the end of the year!

If you enjoy the complimentary ideas that I share each month, I would love and truly appreciate for you to please leave a review/recommendation for me on Google or Facebook here are the links  GOOGLE and/orFACEBOOK

Have you signed up to receive my complimentary dental marketing and practice management ideas that are sent right to your email inbox each month? If not, take a second and sign up. Or send me your email address and I will send you an invite to follow. This way, you won’t miss a single idea!

Yours for Greater Success,

~Betty

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