The sooner society gets on board to follow guidelines that prevent the speed of COVID-19, the more quickly the coronavirus crisis will pass, or – even better! –be largely averted. And all medical professionals bear a special responsibility toward that end.
But that responsibility doesn’t have to be a burden. Following are five simple things your dental practice can do right now to:
- Increase safety for your patients and staff
- Mitigate financial impacts on your dental practice
- Reinforce your patient relationships as a trusted resource
Be Proactive with COVID-19 Patient Communication
The public is hungry for guidance from trusted health professionals right now. That includes your patients.
Reaching out to clients with signage in your office, via email, and with proactive talking points while making or conducting appointments can help reduce fear related to a visit. It’s also a chance to strengthen your relationship and show that your practice is taking a leadership stance during the outbreak.
Let them know not only what they can do to be safe themselves — but also the steps you and your staff take to minimize risk of illness transmission while they are at your office. Even if the safety protocols are the same ones you use everyday, reminding your patients about them can go a long way toward reassuring people at this time.
At least some of your patients are wondering right now if they should postpone routine (or non-urgent) dental appointments due to concerns about the coronavirus. So the reassurances you give them will help them decide whether to keep (or schedule) their appointments now.
Think about the words you might use to reassure them — from a consumer’s perspective. The CDC and other health organizations are focusing on hand-washing, sanitizing surfaces, avoiding crowds, staying home if you’re sick, etc. These are things they will be expecting of you and your staff, as well.
Leverage the CDC’s Infection Prevention Checklist
When did you conduct your last Standard Precautions review? If it’s been more than a few months, bump this activity to the top of your list.
The Infection Prevention Checklist for Dental Settings on the CDC’s website is the go-to internal assessment tool. This set of questions evaluates your status for meeting or exceeding Standard guidelines, in areas including hand hygiene, protective equipment, surface disinfection, and others. There’s even a mobile app option for convenience.
Note: Even if your practice has developed its own internal Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), crosschecking against the CDC’s official resource will ensure all of your “t’s” are crossed. Also, be sure to save and date the form on completion, so you have a record of your bonus safety review.
There are fantastic disposable options on the market for a number of products that previously required sterilization and reuse. While many of us want to cut down on the overall use of disposable items, your practice office is not the place to start.
Dr. Phillip Ho, Founder of Ho Dental Company, was way ahead of the curve in replacing standard impression-taking equipment with disposable options that perform as well or better than standard implements. Our disposable impression products line-up includes impression trays, VPS impression material syringes, facial plane relators and others. Maybe it’s time to take a look?
Review – or Even Re-Craft – Office Policies
Don’t assume it’s obvious to your staff whether or not they should do additional phone screening about COVID-19 or how they should react or if a potentially infected patient visits your office.
Create a standard list of screening questions. Make sure your staff uses them every time they make an appointment and again when a client walks in the door. Many patients are reluctant to cancel last-minute, even if they suspect an illness is coming on. So, your screening a few weeks ago is not preventative enough.
- Has the client traveled over the last few weeks to any COVID-19 hotspots (China, Italy, Seattle, W.A., and New Rochelle, N.Y. are examples as of this writing) or shared proximity to someone who has? Even with community transmission as a factor, the travel question remains relevant
- Have they been in contact with anyone who has or is showing potential signs of the virus? I.E., any cold or flu symptoms?
- Are they showing any signs of infection themselves?
Also, don’t assume it’s obvious to your staff that they should stay home if they would answer yes to any of the above questions.
Every doctor must decide for his- or herself, but it may be time to consider some looser-than-usual policies to help patients and staff ride out the storm. These could include more flexible cancellation policies for patients and bonus sick days for employees, if needed. The sort-term cost can save your practice money and headaches in the long-run.
Offset the Cost
Every business will face unexpected challenges. And there’s no magic bullet when it comes to entirely offsetting the cost of potential lost business in a situation like the COVID-19 outbreak.
That said, Ho Dental Company products are all created by a practicing dentist who intimately knows the impact even small savings can have on a dental practice. Dr. Ho has always been committed to providing dentists with top-performing impression materials at a significantly lower cost than competitors.
We also frequently run specials on our most popular items so you can stock up and pay even less. For example, our VPS Impression Material–already 1/3 less expensive than comparable brands–is on sale for an extra 10% off through March. Check it out on our website to learn more.
We are continually amazed by the incredible group of doctors and staff we get to serve every day. We have total belief in the dental community…and our strength to come together, support our patients and employees and make a real difference in stemming the spread of COVID-19. Be well and be safe!