Janice Charlton explores ways in which dentists and their teams can take control in these uncertain times, focusing on positive changes that can be made now for a successful future 

I think we can all agree that the delivery of dental care in the future will not resemble what it was before COVID-19 struck. 

We are devouring webinars, podcasts, Zoom meetings, articles and interviews hoping to learn some definitive facts that will enable us to have a clear view of what to expect when the doors to our practices open again. 

I have quickly learnt that there is a plethora of opinions as to what the ‘new normal’ will look like. So, in the absence of a formal directive, what can you and your team do now to ensure you are prepared to return to work? 

I think you can break it down into three key areas:
1. You and your team

2. Your patients 

3. The sustainability of your business.  

You and your team

It is crucial that the wellbeing of you and the team is at the fore. 

If your team is furloughed, make sure you are checking in on a regular basis, on both an individual basis and collectively. 

Start to share your thinking and invite input from the team – they are seeing and hearing the same information as you, are as invested in the practice as you are, and may have helpful perspectives. 

Be mindful that everyone deals with uncertainty differently. There are no rules as to how people should feel and behave, so be mindful of that when talking/interacting with your colleagues. 

You could introduce some formal support for the team. For instance, Patient Plan Direct has recently taken the field team through the WRAW – Workplace Resilience and Wellbeing – workshop and is piloting this innovative programme with a number of clients, to give them practical tips and tools to support their teams moving forward.  

Your patients

Whilst you are unable to see your patients in person, it is crucial to keep in contact with them. 

How you interact with patients now will have a profound effect on how you are viewed when the practice can reopen. 

It is advisable you make sure patients can speak to you or a designated member of the team if they call the practice. 

Call vulnerable patients who may be self-isolating, just to see how they are doing. The same goes for anyone who had undergone or was undergoing complex treatment prior to lockdown. 

Use social media to keep patients informed about what you are doing during lockdown and to prepare for reopening. 

Business sustainability

Putting aside the unknowns for now – such as PPE, aerosols etc. (all important and we will address it when we can do so definitively) – you need to return to work in a sustainable, positive manner, and you can think about different ways of achieving that now. 

Do a virtual tour of the practice with your team. What changes do you need to consider for that ‘new normal’ patient journey? For example, you could offer patients a virtual consultation and collection of medical history to minimise the time spent in practice. 

Now is also the time to look at what you offer patients. If you have a plan, is it priced correctly and does it meet your patients’ needs and wants, as well as your own financial requirements? 

Plan income is predictable and has been a lifesaver for many practices, plus it encourages patient loyalty, and the fees are set to accommodate each clinician’s business objectives. 

Here to support you

The Business Development Managers at Patient Plan Direct are currently conducting virtual health checks for practices to support a positive return to work.

Understandably, income has taken a significant dip and practices will be looking to ensure they are getting the best value for money from their suppliers. 

Patient Plan Direct offers exactly this – in combination with customer-centric service and providing you with what you need – no added, costly extras. 

Please contact us for more information as to how we can support you in the next phase of practice. 

Simply call 0344 848 6888, email info@patientplandirect.co.uk, web www.patientplandirect.com