What to Consider When Reopening Your Dental Office

June 16, 2020 | Article

The impact of COVID-19 has touched everyone. After prolonged closures, you’re beginning the process of reopening your dental office during a time of uncertainty. Where do you start? What factors should you consider?

WHAT BUSINESS LEADERS CAN DO TO PREPARE FOR THE NEXT NORMAL

Points to Consider When Reopening Your Dental Office
Communicating Infection Control Efforts
While patients may be anxious about coming to your office, they realize the importance of getting the economy going again. If they are kept informed before, during and after their appointment about new steps implemented to obtain and maintain the most sterile environment possible, tensions will subside. Offer reassurance by communicating clearly and consistently.

Involving the Team in the Discussions
Patients aren’t the only ones who need reassurance, your staff does as well. Involve them in the discussions of new processes, the steps in each process, and the additional time needed to effectively implement them. This helps them feel invested in the “new normal.” Continually remind them steps are being taken not just for patient health and safety, but theirs as well.

Evaluate the capacity of your team. Do hours of operation need to be adjusted? Could a few hours on Saturdays be made available, which could include staff who would otherwise have childcare issues? Some may want additional hours, some may not. It’s important to be sensitive to their needs. Keep the dialogue open, both individually and as a team.

Here are other human resource items to consider in the wake of COVID-19.

Allowing Enough Time
Added safety measures will most likely mean more time needed for each appointment. Planning ahead for that could help reduce wait times and frustration. Keep in mind every patient has a COVID-19 story to tell. And, they may have questions for you about your practice reopening and how you’re keeping them safe. Allowing extra time for dialogue and reassurance could go a long way toward increased patient confidence and decreased anxiety.

Additional time will also be needed for added cleaning measures between patients. Make sure to turn a critical eye to how much turnover time may be needed in order to properly adhere with new regulations.

Reviewing the Patient Journey
It’s important to carefully review the policies that impact the patient journey as they enter your office. Many of these may be affected by COVID-19:

  • What will your policy look like regarding family or significant other accompaniment into the exam room area?
  • How is your waiting room arranged? Does the current arrangement allow for social distancing? How many will be allowed in the waiting room at a time? Should you only allow patients, and require drop off and pick up?
  • What process will be in place for screening staff, patients, and visitors? How will this be communicated?

View the ADA’s latest updates that provide guidance from the CDC.

 

Assessing Financial Implications
As practice stakeholder, you also have other important factors to keep in mind, such as revenue generation and risk management. Careful conversation and planning will be critical across all aspects of your practice.

While you may be looking to contain costs for the interim, remember that you’ll have the addition of new costs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as additional cleaning supplies, masks, hand sanitizer and potential office remodels to comply with social distancing. Make sure you consider these when looking at your dental office budget for the foreseeable future.

To help you through this process, we have developed a step-by-step guide that discusses areas of importance in your reopening plan.

A Guide to Prepare for Reopening and Repositioning Your Organization

Understand the Impact of COVID-19
It’s clear things are going to be very different post COVID-19. To be successful, dentists need to carefully develop plans to reopen their practices. By thinking through these scenarios carefully and cautiously, you’ll be better prepared to move forward.

Are you ready to move forward into the next normal with your dental office?

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