An action plan for returning to a new normal

The number one priority for dental offices as we transition into the next phase of reopening is to keep staff and patients safe and to do everything to limit the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Infection control and closely following CDC and ADA guidelines is just one aspect of transitioning your practice into a new normal.

Here are some tasks your office manager can carry out to make the adjustment as smooth as possible.

Improve patient communication

More than ever, it’s important to touch base with patients to confirm their appointment. Many practices are running a staggered schedule and may not be using all available chairs right away. This means cancellations and no-shows can have an even bigger impact on productivity. Some patients may also be more apprehensive than usual about coming in.

In addition to confirming the time slot, a short call gives you the opportunity to:

  • Quickly cover safety measures your practice has put in place
  • Go over any new office protocols, including telephone check-in and temperature checks
  • Ask if the patient is feeling OK and reschedule if they are under the weather
  • Talk about any PPE that will be used

Simplify the reception area

Make disinfecting common areas easier and more efficient by removing all non-essential items from the area. These include:

  • Magazines, newspapers, tablets or any other shared entertainment equipment that is touched by patients
  • Coffee/snack area and water dispenser
  • Display models, brochures, implant models, etc.

Coordinate with dental supply providers and delivery drivers in advance

Streamline deliveries by contacting carriers in advance to explain your new delivery protocol. At the same time, revisit supply inventory and adjust ordering to account for what could be a smaller patient load.

Develop staffing contingency plans in advance

Despite all your efforts, it is still possible that a staff member could become infected with the virus and miss a significant amount of work. Staff should not return to work until they are tested and 100% clear. Get in touch with dental staffing agencies in your area now so that you’ve got resources available if you need to fill several organizational gaps quickly.

Revisit your payment protocols

Job loss and other economic concerns could mean that more patients than usual will need help financing their dental care. Make sure the office is prepared to handle a higher percentage of non-cash payments.