This is a challenging time for businesses of all shapes and sizes, and dental practices face specific roadblocks that require careful planning. However, COVID-19 also presents the opportunity to strengthen your patient relationships and streamline communications. Here are some tips to help optimize your dental practice in the days to come!

 

Streamline Your Patient Communications

Like most Americans, you’ve received email announcements from dozens of companies outlining their plans for the coming weeks. These typically include everything from office closures and operations changes to reduced hours, and they’re an effective way for small businesses to update their clientele and remain top-of-mind. Here are some specific examples of the automated communications your practice should send out to inform and support your staff and patients.

 

Possible Changes to Your Check-In Protocol

To protect your patients, you may consider asking patients to wait in their cars until you’re ready to treat them. This bypasses the waiting room and reduces interactions between patients, minimizing risk to both patients and staff. PracticeMojo customers can easily explain new policies to patients before they arrive for their scheduled appointments. We’ve created a Featured Campaign called “Our Office is Open” which is already available on your dashboard. You can use this campaign to announce new safety procedures along with your opening date! You may also want to add a line of text to your courtesy reminders to remind patients of the new check-in process.

 

Immediate Communications

If you haven’t done so already, this is the perfect time to reach out and convey your plans for the coming weeks. The messaging you should use will depend on the state you’re in, whether you’re offering emergency dental appointments, and your new COVID-19 procedures. Though the messaging will differ depending on your individual circumstances, the tone should always be supportive and welcoming.

Be sure to provide contact information with multiple ways to reach you. Can patients text your office? Do you have online forms set up? As always, let them know you are here for them by encouraging them to reach out with any questions.

Here are examples of helpful patient communications you can implement now:

  1. Email on the status of your office and staff
  2. Update your website and social media (Google my Business or Facebook) to tell them exactly how to reach you if they have a dental emergency
  3. Share the measures you are taking to protect your staff and patients during COVID-19

 

As We Emerge from the Crisis

Even after the stay at home order is lifted, dental practices will want to enact ongoing changes to their operations. Your state dental association will likely release recommendations based on conditions in your area, including safety measures like having patients wait in the car until their appointment time, going paperless to reduce contact, and implementing frequent deep cleaning regimens for waiting and examination rooms. It’s also essential to remind patients to stay home if they’re exhibiting symptoms of the virus in order to ensure the safety of your other patients and staff.

Here are some examples of communications to send as your community resumes activity:

  1. Email on plans for rescheduling appointments
  2. Email about updated office hours
  3. Reminder of your safety protocol and visit requirements

 

Consider Automating Your Communications

If your practice isn’t using an automated communications system, you’re taking a lot of time reaching out to each patient. A system like PracticeMojo provides automated appointment reminders via text, phone, and/or email, as well as ongoing recall services to bring previous patients back to your door. In unprecedented times like these, it can also be used to cancel appointments, inform patients of limited hours, and announce protocols for emergency procedures. Automating your communications ensures no patient falls through the cracks.

 

Update Information on Your Website

You should also incorporate updates into your website. A pop-up or banner across the top of your homepage is an easy way to list the current status of your office, along with emergency dental hours and requirements. Our Member Services team at ProSites can help you implement this update on your website very quickly. We also recommend linking to an internal COVID-19 page with expanded announcements, and we have created a custom resource page to make this easy for you.

 

Change Your Hours Across All Dental Patient Touchpoints

To eliminate confusion for your patients, update your hours on your website, Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook. While you update the hours, take the additional time to ensure that your contact info, services, and location is accurate across all business listings.

 

Use Social Media for Real-Time, Proactive Communications

Given the stay at home orders, people are spending more time on social media than ever. This makes it the perfect channel for real-time, proactive communications with your patients. Starting now, begin to post updates on the status of your office and hours, details on emergency dental services, and maybe even fun work-from-home pictures of your staff.

Once you have a solid plan for reopening, launch another series of social media posts addressing these developments. Be sure to cover your new hours, updated safety procedures, and how to reschedule appointments that were cancelled due to COVID-19.

As always, be sure to encourage engagement by responding to comments quickly! This is also a great time to ask your existing patients to leave reviews on your Facebook page.

 

Conclusion

Given the rapidly evolving situation, communicating with your patients is more important than ever. By utilizing emails, automated appointment reminders, and social media, you can keep patients informed and help jumpstart your practice when it’s time to reopen.

The PracticeMojo team is here for you. If you need help putting together a new dental communication plan to help optimize your practice both throughout and after COVID-19, we are here to help. Request a free consultation today!