What Dentists Should Do to Follow the COVID-19 Protocols
Patients are the key to your dental practice's success. One of the important things to attract and retain patients is proper patient scheduling. A proper schedule for your patients ensures that they are attended and seen in the time of their need, as well as help you meet your production goals.
However, now, you need to be extra careful due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You need to implement certain COVID-19 protocols in your practice and adjust your schedule accordingly to ensure the health and safety of your patients and staff. The protocols include:
- Staff Health Screening – Take your employees’ temperature readings upon arrival and give them time to wear personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Pre-Appointment Patient Screening –Take your patients’ temperature readings, have them complete the health questionnaire and a consent form, and review previously completed forms. Doing these while your patients wait in the car will prevent them from infecting your waiting room. You can reschedule their appointments if they have a fever or any similar COVID-19 symptoms.
- Staggering Appointments – Stagger appointments to avoid the unnecessary crowd in your waiting room. This will also help patients maintain social distancing during treatment.
- Disinfecting and Sanitizing the Office–Make sure to clean and disinfect the frequently touched surfaces in your dental office at regular intervals.
- Provide PPE to Patients–Ask your staff to provide PPE for your patients before taking them inside.
- Reschedule Treatments – You can reschedule or group the risky treatments, including those that are likely to produce more aerosols, at the end of the day to minimize patient and staff exposure.
- Online Payments – Accept digital payments to avoid the risk of cross-infection.
Adjust Your Schedule
Once you have implemented these protocols, here is how you need to revise your dental office schedule:
Revise Your Working Hours
You may need to extend your working hours to minimize the number of patients in the waiting room while handling their demands. Check whether you can be available beyond your normal working hours and schedule appointments accordingly.
Define and Track Daily Production Goals
You need to set specific goals, including production, profit, more referrals, maintaining a low-stress environment, and high patient satisfaction. Measure your team’s performance regularly to determine whether these goals are met. Also, schedule frequently in the first few weeks after you reopen to increase your production and patient satisfaction.
Determine and resolve any problems with your system before your first patient visits your practice. Discuss with your entire team, as each of them plays a different role and have different insights into what affects the smooth operation, and act accordingly.
Filling Canceled Appointments
No-shows and last-minute cancellations cannot be avoided, and you can expect these more than before, as patients may fear visiting the dentist amid the pandemic. However, you can handle this by using an automated system that detects last-minute cancelations, finds interested patients on your waitlist and contacts them automatically to fill the empty slots.
Automate Patient Communication
You can use an automated system that sends automatic appointment reminders to patients via text, call, or email, handles two-way communication with patients, receives automatic confirmations to your portal, and sends custom messages.
By implementing these tips, you can follow COVID-19 protocols as well as adjust your patient schedule accordingly.