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  • Michelle Shimmin

How to Weather the Storm!!

Happy Sunday wonderful colleagues. As we are in the midst of a very trying time, not only in our industry but in our lives, I wanted to reach out and share what will hopefully be some useful information for us to weather this storm.

What a great opportunity you have right now to adapt into more of a digital and virtual business model that our industry is rapidly moving towards.

People don’t hesitate to run to the grocery store or gas station and we shouldn’t expect them to think any differently about coming to their scheduled appointment with you! We should be cautious and aware, yet not live our lives in fear.

If you are not already experiencing disruptions in your practice due to either employees being sick or slightly panicked to patients being no-shows to a slower number of exams coming through your TC room, you will most likely see some form of this hiccup in the near future. These are areas you can target and have on deck as you begin to experience adjustments in your normal patient flow – be proactive in thinking ahead so that you are prepared.

1. Education about taking precautions in your practice will be very important to keeping your clinic protected as well as your patients comfortable. Register for this free webinar hosted by clinical expert, Andrea Cook on March 17th. Coronavirus infection prevention.

2. Consider compressing your schedule and limiting admin days to keep your overhead costs in check as we experience a decline in production. With a high rate of cancellations or no-shows during this time, rather than keeping your schedule open your normal number of patient days/hours, begin by condensing your schedule. With many schools closed and employees working from home, the typical 8-9am or 3-5pm time slots are not as necessary. Adjust your patient hours to 10-3pm and make an extra confirmation call to patients using this script:

· “Hello ________ , during the next several weeks as we are working especially hard to provide a safe environment for our patients, we are wanting to confirm your appointment with us and let you know that we are updating our patient hours. We have the following appointment times available ____________.”

· Your schedule will organically be thinning out at this time. I recommend rescheduling your retainer check appointments and doing all of your aligner adjustment appointments virtually.

· Encourage patients to come to their appointment alone or with only one parent.

3. Have your team spend time focusing on areas of the practice that require more time to complete and are oftentimes not given as much needed attention:

· Review practice financials and delinquencies, spending time following up with insurance and patients to resolve any delinquent balances.

· Review your annual marketing calendar, laying out the remainder of the year and being purposeful in the marketing efforts in order to maximize your return. As this crisis comes to an end, it will be more important than ever for us to be working on acquiring new patients.

· Audit your status reports. This takes time to assess if your patients are in the correct statuses. Archive Retention patients that are 12 months past their deband. Ensure your observation patients are properly recorded and managed. Evaluate all of the patients that scheduled a new patient exam and did not come in, creating a pool of patients that you will be able to market to in the next few months as this crisis subsides.

4. Take a look closely at your virtual exam and virtual appointment processes. For those of you that have implemented these into your practice, now is the perfect time to market your practices’ abilities to serve your patients. If you have not implemented any of these options into your practice, strongly consider these as options to sustain and grow your practice. In times such as now, and for many patients in the future, these appointment options will be critical to attracting new patients. Consider:

· Dental Monitoring

· Smilesnap


· Rhinogram

5. Assess and evaluate your clinical procedure manual. Utilize your clinical technicians to ensure this is up-to-date and accurate, taking photos of your tray setups and confirming thoroughness in your SOP’s (standard operating procedures) and appointment protocols.

6. Review your processes and procedures. Now, more than ever, you will want to ensure that your systems are tight and in order. This will provide you the advantage of success and efficiency when we see the increase in new patients and starts as things settle back down to our normal. (I’m very confident and optimistic in this happening)

· Your Employee Manual should be an area of focus and now is the perfect time to do this. Is this up-to-date and current. What needs to be edited and adjusted or clarified better.

This will pass! It’s essential that we do not panic, but rather prepare purposefully for how you will respond to your patients and how you will manage your business. This will go a long way towards how quickly you will recover from this concerning time.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any specific questions on how to best weather this storm.

We are a small community of providers; our patients will be looking to us to be a voice of calm and reason. Keep this in mind as you weigh your decisions over the next few weeks.

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