The dental industry has undoubtedly been negatively impacted by the pandemic’s ripple effects worldwide. Oral healthcare was quickly identified as a risk due to the nature of the virus transmission, as well as the use of aerosols in many dental treatments. Dental providers have adapted and implemented many new processes to keep patients and dental teams optimally safe from the virus.
Despite this, many dental patients have deterred their appointments and treatments (such as restorations, implants, endodontic treatments, etc.) While dentists (in Canada) have reopened for routine treatment a few times, many patients are still only going for emergencies. Articles from multiple sources have discussed whether it is safe to go to dental visits, making groups of people anxious about exposing themselves, even if their provider goes above and beyond in risk-prevention.
On top of the existing health risks that we are facing, with a rise in misinformation due to various sources referencing different sets of regulations, it’s inevitable that patients are largely confused about visiting dental offices for routine appointments. In this blog post, we will be going over some strategies your office can use to take charge of communication to fill up your chairs once again.
Ways you can put your patients at ease and generate interest in routine appointments
1. Make an announcement on your webpage or social media profiles
Announce on your social media banners, or even your website homepage, that your office is accepting patients for routine appointments. Consider leaving your announcement up for a while (e.g., a few months), or until your practice sees an upturn of patient interest.
2. Reference reputable organizations
Along with your webpage or social media update, as mentioned above, you can strengthen your message by referencing groups such as CDC or ODA’s affirmation that dental visits are currently encouraged. Ensuring patient knowledge is one of the starting points towards bringing them back to your office.
3. Make things as touchless as possible, and let patients know this beforehand
Look into having touchless payment options (such as credit card, or Interac), and have touchless forms available for your patients to fill out. Patient intake forms, COVID-19 screening forms, health history forms, x-ray forms, and other various treatment consent forms can be digitized to optimize patient and staff safety and comfort. Additionally, informing patients of these features beforehand may encourage them to come in since your office is taking pre-emptive measures to be as safe as possible.
Features to look for that help keep your chairs full
1. Automated recall booking systems
Having a system like this allows your hygienists or reception team to fill your schedule months in advance without scrambling last-minute at the end of an appointment. Intelligent automated recall booking should recognize the interval that a patient is set up for and show availabilities for the given appointment type when they are due.
2. A treatment manager
Having a built-in treatment manager helps you know who to contact to fill your schedule. For instance, if people missed their appointments, haven’t come for a few years, or have unfinished dental treatment, treatment managing programs should be able to identify and recommend contacting these patients.
Putting information online to ease patient concerns, as well as having tools in your office that help you fill your schedule more efficiently are two key methods you can fill up your chairs once again.