We are excited to be sharing with you the final part of a blog series being written by our valued partner and user Dr. Randy LaFrom. Dr. LaFrom was a dentist for over 30 years before he decided to become a consultant. He has incredible insight into the dental industry and has agreed to share it. He has written a series of recommendations on what dentists should do to address the situation COVID-19 has put practices in. If you haven't read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 or Part 5 yet we recommend you do before going forward! We hope you find this information helpful and are able to stay successful during this hard time.
Preparing for the Grand Re-Opening of your practice in 2020 Part 6
Pulling the team together
This is the final installment of our series specifically focused on coming back amid COVID-19 with a stronger position than in early 2020.
As of today, some states are “opened” and some are “closed”. Some larger states have certain counties that are open and others that are remaining closed. This can cause a significant amount of stress on dental practices waiting to open, trying to salvage their practices and their teams.
Dentistry is an ESSENTIAL business
This should be the message sent to our leaders, loud and clear. Any dentist who studies the oral-systemic connection, will fully understand that dentists are oral physicians. What happens in the body can and does show up in the mouth, and vice versa.
Patients who are pregnant, have diabetes, or heart disease often show oral manifestations in the mouth. Whether it is bleeding gums, dry mouth, or loose teeth, there are many studies that show that proper oral hygiene can play a significant role in the management of these health conditions.
Proper oral hygiene, using anti-microbial mouth rinses, combined with professional prevention-oriented cleanings and exams in conjunction with correctly managing infections early in a timely manner have shown to improve a person’s overall health.
Improving your immunity
People often take vitamins when they get sick. What if they were to take vitamins and practice smart health habits when they are still healthy? It could potentially help minimize the effect of an illness. The same is true for businesses. You need to take periodic preventative measures, and strengthening and do a self-assessment from time to time.
The word “PIVOT” has had a new context these days
PIVOT refers to creating a new path to a new normal. It’s time to write a new narrative and stop wishing for what was. They say that strength often comes after making it through a time of suffering. For many dental practices, there has been a lot of suffering, especially financially. Have you taken this time to rethink your strategies, create new systems, strengthen your resources and your reserves?
Keeping your team involved
Many of the new required protocol require involving your staff to “step-up” as it can definitely be overwhelming if you try to do it all yourself. Hopefully, you have been staying in communication with your team throughout this pandemic. Communication dropping out is the biggest cause of internal breakdowns within an office.
Hold your team accountable, give them tasks, show them the criteria for success, and create a feedback loop to ensure continuity. Look for ways to make your key performance indicators easy to track, follow-up with patients so they don’t fall through the cracks, and be grateful when you see positive progress.
Implement things in stages
Be careful about overloading either your patients or your staff with too much at once. If you spend an entire appointment discussing safety and sterilization with a patient, it will actually have the potential to scare patients away with things they may not have thought of.
You will return to work and “hope” that processes will return at a pace that you feel they need to. Unfortunately, many offices are already reporting about 40% levels of the pre-COVID-19 production levels their first month back. Use this time to train your team, improve efficiencies of you protocol and streamline your chairside procedures and teamwork.
The power of analytics
The new, improved Square Practice platform offers dental practices many new features that create more efficient methods of keeping a tighter control of your patients and your practice. Too many practices are focused on spending money advertising for new patients, when they don’t realize that the “back door” of their practice is as big as the front door.
One method of moving forward is to “slow-down” and spend more time building the relationship with your clients. Be more focused on taking care of their overall health, review their medical histories, discuss long-term solutions, rather than simply going after the simple broken filling or emergency toothache. (Sometimes called going after the “low-hanging fruit”.)
Many patients are out of the system with their appointments having been moved. In addition to bringing them back in, practices need to give them reassurance and realize that many of them have lost their jobs or had issues of their own to deal with. Now is a great time to practice your listening skills. Everyone has a story about the past three months. Take the time to get to know your patients. Instead of being "a dentist" be "their dentist".
Best wishes moving forward into 2020. The information written here is not meant to provide medical or legal advice. It is the opinions of the author and presented to give some additional thoughts to consider as you progress forward with your practice. In the meantime we wish you and your families well during this time of transition.
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Dr. Randy LaFrom
Business Consulting and Practice Strategies.