What to do now in your dental practice to prepare for 2022
Since early 2020, the world has been mired in the deep crisis of a pandemic, the scale of which had not been met for decades prior. The COVID-19 pandemic has managed to stir the pot for many small businesses and dentistry has not been shielded from its atrocities. Our positions in the market as dentists have been fraught with chaos and upheaval, something that many businesses continue to recover from more than a year later.
In 2021, we experienced industry-altering events, including multiple shutdowns, reopenings, stifled demands, production failures and slowdowns following such demands, and an emancipated healthcare system that struggled to keep practices alight and returning patients afoot. Over the last two unforgivable years, the global economic landscape has faced numerous onslaughts. To add insult to injury, the post-Brexit debacle has also conjured some marketplace renovations that may require some dynamic research to get used to.
While the plethora of massive changes in this post-pandemic world is not completely incorrigible, we are definitely getting used to a new sense of normalcy with new business trends constantly on the rise. For business owners, understanding how the market works today and how they can ready their practice to take on 2022 can help them regain their footing in the industry once again.
Strategies that can help your dental practice win 2022
Reactivate as many patients as you can
Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm, ranks reactivation of patients as the number one factor for increasing practice production during COVID-19. At a time before the pandemic struck, reactivation was referred to patients who were 18 months overdue and had become mysteriously inactive. Today, we can label any patient who does not have their next appointment in the books as fitting for reactivation.
Chalking out the process of reactivation is simple: address the patient’s safety by alerting them of your practice’s prophylaxis measures and their financial concerns by offering affordable financing options for their procedures. Remember that each patient you retain implies one additional chair time filled, which ultimately brings in more yield to your production chain.
Stabilize your dental team
Staffing is an integral part of the process of management in your practice. It is through clever and patent staffing decisions that you develop the ideal manpower for your practice’s work system. Nevertheless, it is also one of the biggest challenges faced by dental practices in the short term. The problem does not lie in fashioning relevant hiring attractions, but in retaining staff that you already have.
Retaining staff should be your primary focus, especially as you’re rounding up your team for the new year. Draw your attention to your current team who know the practice well so that you can allow high-functioning appraisals at production levels. If you want to keep your team happy through 2022, it is important to show compassion and concern, as their leader.
You should also focus your energy on increasing practice productivity and agility by cross-training your dental team. This builds a dream team full of versatile individuals who are always on their A-game with sharp skills that can be utilized in multiple areas such as billing, scheduling, and dental marketing.
Monitor no-shows closely
There are no-shows from time to time which isn’t all too alarming. However, no-shows also mean unfilled chair time in a period when the patient volume has already plummeted than before. According to the Levin Group Data Center, practices have stabilized at approximately 85% of their patient volume pre-COVID-19. We should now aim to increase this figure to 95% by realigning schedules and crafting excellent scripting for patients.
In order to regulate no-shows, establish a high level of practice value for your patients. Follow this up by creating demand. For example, a patient who misses an appointment should not be rescheduled for several weeks, in order to create the illusion of demand. Also, establish a confirmation protocol such as emails or text messaging to reach your patients prior to an appointment.
Levin Group’s target for no-shows is under 1%, which you will be able to accomplish if you deploy strict policies in your practice to get a hold of your patients before their scheduled dates for confirmation and charge them if they are a no-show for a second time.
Tighten up your daily huddle
The baseline here is to create a new approach for achieving your production goals. Of course, with the changes in PPE and infection control, you’ll have to start considering newer ways to schedule your day. Procedural time studies and consequent elimination of inadequacies in the system can give you somewhere fresh to start your venture.
Also, you can, quite literally, call in a huddle or a meeting ever so often to discuss the daily goals and activities each member of the team will be required to complete. This could be as simple as breaking down calls on Monday or looking at ways to fill holes in the schedule on Fridays. When each day of the week is accounted for, it helps keep your practice organized and focused.
Make sure everyone is calibrated about their individual duties and frequently keep the overall agenda of the workplace in check.
Design practice systems for maximum production
Management systems are documented operational guidelines and protocols that allow a practice to run with the greatest efficiency as well as profitability. Practices often tend to do well whenever management systems are put in place, even if no new patients are added to the roster. In this new year, you’ll have to make sure that your systems are adjusted for production and robust profitability.
Some system adjustments you may consider include scheduling larger cases as soon as possible, bringing new patients in within 7 to 10 days, scheduling emergencies on the same day, and scheduling patient appointments to complete a huge portion of the treatment in a single visit. Doing so will reduce overhead and increase efficiency.
Implement 5-star customer service
The science of customer service runs much deeper than just being nice to your patients. There is a system that should be put into place with appropriate scripting. On the off chance that you do not implement an exact process for 5-star customer service, your practice will inevitably slip up.
Good customer service allows your practice to increase overall patient longevity, referrals, case acceptance, and practice production.
Freshen up your online review service
You may also adopt an online dental patient review mechanism by which you can allow patients to rate their experiences akin to the Yelp-like fashion. Online reviews are today’s word-of-mouth marketing and will help spread the talks of your dental business, thus attracting more patients to your practice,
You can spruce up your online review pages by:
- Update your practice’s information like address, hours, payment, or website.
- Enhance your practice description using keywords.
- Request more reviews from your patients.
- Review your policies for responding to your patients’ online reviews.
Go paperless at patient intake
It is time to take your practice digital. This means that you can now apply a system to your practice that organizes your patient records. Organizing the clutter of patient forms and undergoing the difficulty to decipher patient handwriting can be a drag on your office’s productivity. Instead, opt for digital check-ins with online forms to save your team and yourself abundant time and effort.
Going paperless can also help save you money in the long run. The cost adds up if you really think about it, what with all the folders, charts, postcards, printers, paper supplies, etc, you need around the office on any given day. Instead, invest in new technology that makes patient visits less hectic for both the patient and your staff.
Additionally, with the haunts of the COVID-19 lingering close by, your move to implement a touch-free patient experience can help keep your patients safe and minimize the spread of the virus.
Master social media connection
If you’re befuddled by the working of social media, well, it is time you start learning. As time passes, we as a society are more and more reliant on social media platforms to connect with our beloveds and this is the perfect time for businesses to harness clients by connecting to them on their socials.
There are so many platforms for connection, so how do you choose? A good game plan would be to master one social media platform per quarter to boost your business traffic. Get started with the essential few – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn. Engage with new and current patients either via automated or customized content. You can also post patient testimonials on these platforms and run ads to help reach a larger audience.
Create a detailed strategic plan
There is a reason why the most successful businesses invest their time in doing annual strategic planning. Strategic planning is a process by which your relay your dental practice’s strategy and direction moving forward, and evaluate measurable strategies based on resource allocation for the next 1 to 5 years to stay relevant and successful.
By creating a highly detailed strategic plan for your business, you will be plotting to layout a 5-year timeline of different strategies and tactics that will positively help your practice grow. By engaging in thorough practice planning allows you to accurately predict budget fluctuations, formulate realistic goals, and allow you, the business owner to put the business challenges into perspective.
During this transition period, it will be beneficial for all dentists and business owners to focus on the strategies that will strengthen the framework of their practices during the remainder of the COVID-19 expedition and during the period after.
With handy tools such as technology and globalization, you can now diversify your business and not only dominate your current city or country market but also expand them to international levels. This New Year’s, let your resolutions be to take your practice to the next level! Out with the old, and in with the new!