This article originally appeared in the June 29th, THIS WEEK AT AGD, newsletter – Academy of General Dentistry’s AGD Impact magazine.
With the sudden closure of dental offices across the country in March, practices had a choice to make: hunker down and ride out the COVID-19 wave or continue to reach out and deliver information to patients. Hopefully, you were like many practices that continued to engage with patients to keep them informed while your practice was shut down. If you weren’t, you have some catching up to do.
Now that dental practices are reopening, dentists are facing a backlog of patients needing more extensive treatment due to the postponement of nonurgent procedures during the height of the pandemic. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to simply reopen the doors and start accepting patients again. You may find that some patients are reluctant to come in for existing treatment plans, as they are still unsure of their safety in public places. How do you overcome their anxiety and doubt? Communication is key.
Here is a comprehensive list of recommendations that some practices have been using to set their patients’ minds at ease.
Share Videos from Your Practice
Video is one of the most effective ways to get your patients to listen to you outside the four walls of your practice. Use these video topics:
- Explain the changes you’ve made to ensure their safety in your office.
- Walk the patients through the new process by physically showing them what you are doing to keep them safe.
- If you have new equipment, show the equipment in the video, and explain what it does and how it will keep them safe.
Continue to create videos like these, as they are immediate ways of making your patients feel comfortable. These videos can be used on multiple marketing channels. Place the videos on your website, send them via email, blog about them, and share them on social media.
Add Safety Information to Your Website Homepage
Never before have so many people been online, and they will continue to be. Many patients are visiting your website to see what you are doing differently, so it’s important to keep it updated with timely information. Post any changes you’ve made to the front page of your website so that information is front and center when patients visit. As you do in videos, talk about the different ways you are keeping your team and patients safe. Describing your safety procedures helps put your patients’ minds at ease. While you may think they already know you wear gloves and masks, don’t leave that out, as they might not have thought about how important those safety protocols were before.
The more you can communicate with your patients, the better. Again, it’s reinforcing their comfort and confidence in your practice. Email is a great way to make your message more personal. Let them know you are open, and describe the safety procedures you have in place. You can let them know that you’ve always had certain safety protocols in place but are taking even more precautions now.
If you can offer virtual consults, that may be the best way for a patient who has a scheduled treatment to speak with you about their concerns so you can assure their safety face-to-face before they come in for treatment.
Doxy.me is an online telemedicine platform that is easy to use and secure. All you have to do is sign up for an account, then ask patients to call the practice to schedule an appointment. Send them the meeting link via email and text, then show up online at the scheduled time.
Over-communicating information about your safety protocols to patients is essential to getting them to come back to the office. While some patients are not as hesitant, reaching out adds an added level of comfort that all patients can appreciate.