Outline a footprint to take action during COVID-19 pandemic

April 1, 2020

These days present opportunities for clinicians to make a difference during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to lead both their dental teams and their communities.

Many dentists and their staff are struggling to adjust to the new norm forced upon us by COVID-19. The virus is causing us to live in a world subject to day by day change and uncertainty, thus how can dentists best manage the new landscape? Today, we’ll share several easy to deploy strategies to help you maintain a healthy business and retain all those healthy relationships that you worked so hard to establish. 

Stay connected with staff
Since it was impossible to predict the pandemic, it’s natural that none of us has a go-to action plan. Simply stated this is new to all of us. Dentists and their staff are suffering from separation anxiety with growing concerns about their uncertain future, income and overall lifestyle.

During these uneasy times it’s important for dentists to stay in touch with staff. With the cancelation of most elective procedures, team members are having limited contact. One way to stay connected is to schedule conference calls and Skype meetings with your team. Create a diverse agenda to discuss fun topics, sharing stories about how team members are adjusting, updates on office activities, and ideas to get through the week. Great teambuilding includes sharing recipes, recommending books and movies, keeping things light. One way to do this is keep Monday meetings balanced, Wednesday meetings focused on the office, products, and CE; and Friday meetings nothing but fun and light topics. Your team will appreciate the togetherness and this action also allows you to demonstrate leadership during a time we’ll always remember.

Stay connected with patients – varied content
By incorporating a consistent plan to stay in touch with patients your recovery will be more rapid, as things return to norm. Certainly, the worst thing you could do is go dark. Therefore take a few minutes to develop a balanced social-digital and email-calendar of content. The objective is to post and distribute content that’s educational, fun, promotional, and not always about dentistry. Talk about new products, equipment and technologies. Use your forums to address FAQ’s. Update patients on how you and your staff are surviving the crisis. Consider involving staff when you’re creating your office’s calendar to optimize creativity and teambuilding. 

Update your office
Take advantage of the break in the action to revisit the look and feel of your office. Also consider taking steps to maintain social distancing within the waiting room. When the day does come that things return to normal, you’ll still find patients to be cautious.

Use your newly found spare time to look at how other dental practices have designed their waiting rooms. Even if you don’t need or want to do a complete overhaul, finding one or two new touches might make a pleasant and noticeable difference.

Clean up your online world
You know what I’m talking about. Those email folders that need to be emptied. The other files, images and documents that have piled up for months, sometimes years. Take time to block spammers and other unwanted emailers. Consolidate your mess, build custom folders; clean up your desktop.

Jacquie Lawson
When I received my first Jacquie Lawson celebrative email I was immediately awestruck. The cute, creative and quickly digestible animated email fascinated me. Entertaining, thoughtful and personalized.  I was in email love. Invest in this very affordable tool, load your patients name and email address and then you’ll have the ability to send birthday, holiday, season, reminder and thank you emails with a creative flair. You’ll get an outstanding ROI.

Communicate a relaunch plan for your team and office
Once you sense that you can reopen your practice without restrictions you should plan a relaunch meeting with your team. You’ll want to cover topics such as scheduling, marketing, new sanitization policies, responsibilities, and a branded team response to patients. Think about this for a moment. Is a patient more likely to be comfortable in an office where everyone’s response to the bounce-back from the pandemic is in harmony-unison. Or would that same patient feel a bit uneasy hearing five different spins? I’m not suggesting that staff doesn’t share their personal story, but the immediate response from an “office perspective” should be consistent. Example: “We all kept in touch throughout the process and frankly we were all very eager to return. We missed what we do and enjoy working together.”  A comment like that will bring a smile to every patient and isn’t that the goal?

Be as philanthropic as you can
Tough times call for tougher people and these are the moments when it’s important to get a bit introspective and dig deep. There are many students whose lives have been sadly disrupted and beyond the education, they are missing out on school provided meals. There are small business that remain open and are starving for business. There are so many ways to give, so don’t give up if your cashflow is tight, instead get creative.

Refresh your website – website content
So, you refreshed the waiting room, you cleaned up your online world, now it’s time to tackle the website. It’s likely at the very least you have some dated content or images. If you haven’t been able to keep your contemporary or best in class, now is the time to take upon this project. If you outsource, you’re also likely to find that pricing will be highly competitive.

Study your art – learn new technologies
If you’re feeling a bit ambitious why not learn some new techniques?  It’s an ideal time to review products such as DentalVibe, Milestone Scientific’s The Wand / STA System, AMD Lasers, and the WOW Intraoral scanner from Clon3D. DentalVibe is an affordable anesthesia comfort delivery tool invented by NYU graduate Dr. Steven Goldberg and designed to alleviate the anxiety of oral injections by massaging the nerves and tissue around the injection site for better dental experiences.

The Wand  (single tooth anesthesia) utilizes computer-controlled delivery to minimize pressure and associated pain. Alan Miller turned dentistry upside down a few years back with the introduction of his low cost, mobile AMD Lasers systems appropriately labeled Picasso. WOW is new to the U.S., but their design and performance places them in our pool of provocative products. The WOW intraoral scanner scanner captures both 2D and 3D images and can work with standard open-architecture file format to export scans to any open CAD platform. It was featured on the cover of the

Motivational signs
Are you leveraging your office location to maintain a voice and share words of strength? Online vendors such as Vista Print produce lawn signs and other types of signs that can be positioned to help you make the community smile. Invest in a few lawn signs with witty motivational comments and soon you’ll become the talk of the town. Just keep them nonpolitical and generic.

Stay relevant 
Since you serve the public and more specifically you serve the community, it’s critical to maintain a presence. As a matter of fact, the current environment will create opportunities for individuals to show strength and leadership.

The “motivational sign” idea is an example of remaining relevant. Having a dedicated social, digital, email calendar is another example. But how can you do more?

Can you donate to the police, fire department, local hospital, emergency walk in practice, nursing home?  Can you run an ad in the local paper showing support?

Next step is to use this outline as a footprint to take action. These days present opportunities to lead both your team and your community. The good news is there is a reward for you if you decide to take action and make a difference. Your reward is a smile, both theirs and yours.