As businesses reemerge from COVID-19 economic shutdowns, the looming question is how to get back to work in a still-uncertain environment. Some Dallas dental practices remained open for emergency procedures, but postponed preventive care and routine procedures.
As of May 1, dental offices in Texas were permitted to reopen and some nonessential surgeries allowed, though not all practices were ready to open. Some dentists need more (or better) personal protective equipment (PPE), and many patients aren’t quite ready to reschedule appointments. Other practices are working on their plans to stagger patient visits and staff.
In a previous blog, How Dental Practices Can Manage Cash Flow During the Coronavirus Pandemic, we focused on federal and state assistance to help small business owners stay afloat. We also touched on the importance of communicating with patients during the pandemic to keep them informed and ready to follow up on treatment plans. As restrictions continue to be lifted, what steps can you take to reemerge successfully?
- Safety First
The close proximity of the patient encounter and the use of aerosols make it vital that you take measures to protect yourself and your patients. Tell your patients, through every channel available (telephone, website, mail, and social platforms), that you are adhering to the updated Centers for Disease Control (CDC) interim infection prevention and control guidance, which closely mirrors the ADA’s Return to Work Interim Guidance. For example, communicate that you are:
- Using appropriate PPE equipment in accord with ADA interim mask and face shield guidelines
- Providing hand sanitation throughout your facility and regularly disinfecting all surfaces
- Removing magazines and other communal objects from the office
- Asking each patient to wait in their car until they are called/texted to come in, or at least limiting patients in the waiting room and following six-foot distance guidelines
- Utilize pre-appointment screening questions, and let your patients know your staff will take their temperature upon entry.
- Don’t Let Expenses Get Ahead of Revenue
No matter how long you have been in practice, you may need to approach your business as an entrepreneur. Hold off on nonessential expenditures until your revenue can get back on track. If you had to scale down staff, don’t bring them all back at once. Wait until patient scheduling is closer to normal levels. Ramp up slowly.
- Communicate Through Videos and Webinars
Be sure to remain visible for your patients, especially those not yet willing to schedule appointments. Videos, which are engaging and personal, can include patient education, whether about COVID-19 or other proactive dental practices. According to a 2018 survey (statista), 85% of internet users watched online videos. Practice Builders predicts that nearly 65% of potential patients visit a healthcare office website after watching a video. Your videos can include tutorials, presentations, and webinars. Use webinars to educate, inform, and motivate patients, whether they are ready to resume dental care now or in the near future.
The video-sharing platform YouTube is a cost-effective way to provide valuable information about the dental treatments you offer. YouTube has over one billion users, equivalent to roughly one-third of total internet users.
- Determine Whether Shared Services Make Sense for Your Practice
Some practices are more adversely affected by COVID-19 than others. You may want to consider sharing expensive back-office services with other practices—and they don’t need to be with other dentists. Shared services can include billing and collections, risk management, training, and other financial management services.
The pandemic will be with us for months to come, and guidelines will evolve as we learn more. Update your patients frequently as you adjust your office procedures. Keep an eye on accounts receivable and revisit cash flow projections regularly.
To learn more about managing your Dallas dental practice, or implementing dental practice efficiencies that will help grow your practice, contact the dental CPAs at Goldin Peiser & Peiser or Erick Cutler at 214-635-2541.
COVID-19 Resources and Planning Services
There are many options to consider in navigating the next 30 to 90 days. You need a plan – a business continuity plan. If you need experts to help your practice develop your plan or revise the one you have in place or you want to learn more about managing cash flow for your Dallas dental practice, our COVID-19 Business Advisory and Planning Services Group is ready to assist. For timely and important updates, visit GPP’s COVID-19 Business Assistance and Resource Center.
For immediate questions, email CARETEAM@GPPcpa.com
Note: This content is accurate as of the date published above and is subject to change. Please seek professional advice before acting on any matter contained in this article.