Double Trouble: Overcoming Patient’s Fears of Dental Care and COVID-19

Posted on June 24, 2020 by
Posted in Articles, General

5 Communication Strategies to Get Patients Back in Your Office 

Let’s be honest, getting patients to their dentist’s office was challenging, even before COVIDV-19 concerns. In fact, many people are downright scared of the dentist and put off their routine visits. Over the last several months, nearly half of Americans have delayed health care services, including dental care, due to COVID-19 concerns.  In some cases, delaying care is more detrimental to their health than the virus itself.

To overcome patient’s reservations, dentists should utilize a proactive, comprehensive communication plan to educate patients on the importance of maintaining their oral health and preparing them for your office’s new safety precautions. Implementing a communication plan will not only ensure that your patients have the information needed to resume their oral care safely, it can make them feel more comfortable about returning to your office.

Below are five ways to ensure your patients are ready for their next dental visit: 

Send an announcement indicating when your practice will reopen (or if it already is), along with an overview of the safety measures you have implemented, which may include: 

  • Changes made to the layout of your waiting room, including removal of reading materials and extra space between chairs
  • Requiring facial coverings within the office
  • Pre-appointment symptom screenings and/or COVID-19 testing protocols
  • Instructions to cancel or reschedule an appointment if they are experiencing an illness or develop any COVID-19 symptoms 
  • Information on how your practice will be handling dental emergencies
  • Limitations on the number of people that will be permitted in the office at a given time
  • Changes to office hours, including extended night, weekend or hygienist hours
  • Designated appointment times for senior or immunocompromised patients 
  • Increased frequency of cleaning and disinfecting around the office
  • Increased PPE being worn by you and your staff during their visit
  • Changes with routine services and treatments including hand-scaling by hygienists and equipment changes 

Let patients know what their options are: 

  • Can they complete a virtual care assessment? 
  • Are special appointment times available for high-risk patients that limit their exposure to other patients? 
  • Are certain appointments able to be delayed until later in the summer and fall? 

Make sure your patients know that not only are you open, but that your practice is adapting and committed to their safety and wellbeing.

Use all available methods available to reach/communicate with your patients: 

  • If your practice is on social media, consider posting your new office polices and hours. 
  • You can also help patients get a glimpse inside, sharing photos of your new office layout and staff wearing their new PPE.  
  • If you can, try to include a patient testimonial. 

This is a great way to SHOW patients what they can expect and hear about the experience from a peer. 

If you utilize text message reminders at your practice, send out periodic reminders to schedule an appointment.

This is an efficient, effective way to reach patients, especially now when email boxes are overrun with COVID-19-related communications.

Reach out directly to patients who are overdue for an appointment, reiterating the importance of their oral health, including the fact that: 

  • Dental problems often won’t get better on their own. In most cases they worsen over time.
  • Delaying care can be more costly if the problem progresses as it changes their treatment plan. 

In addition to outreach for your existing patients, it’s important to have a marketing plan in place to attract new patients in your area. If your practice would like help developing an effective, proactive communication and marketing plan, Dental Media offers customizable support to fit the needs of your practice. Dental Media understands that many practices may be experiencing financial challenges, which is why their plans are free of set-up frees and annual commitments. The minimal monthly software fee isn’t activated until your first campaign and allows marketing spend to be tracked 1:1 through seamless integration with most practice management systems. Most importantly, they eliminate all the financial risks, because you only pay for patients scheduled with a 200% ROI guarantee. 

As an IDS member, you are also eligible for an exclusive, reduced rate for Dental Media’s services. To learn more, contact, Jaymie Youngquist.

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