In the age of COVID-19, it is vital that your dental practice protocols, internal communication and external communications dispel patient fears and present a welcoming, safe environment.
We connected with Jennifer Surette of Fortune Practice Management to review her successful approach working directly with dental offices to ensure they maintain their patient flow in a safe manner.
We included our experience with external communications and what has successfully worked many dental offices.
Internal Communications are a necessary partner with your External Communications. If you are experiencing an increase in cancellations, it may be time for a different approach. Assume that every patient who calls to cancel has no idea what your safety precautions are. Instead of accepting their request to cancel, first try one of the tools we teach at Fortune Management, Feel, Felt, Found.
“Hi Katy, I have an appointment scheduled next week, and I’d like to cancel that for now. I don’t really feel safe coming back to the dentist yet”
“Mrs. Jones, I understand how you FEEL, some of our patients have FELT the same way, so I’d like to share with you why our office is one of the safest places you’ll visit. In addition to our PPE, we have implemented automobile check-in, our patient lobby is closed, and all our forms are electronic. In addition, we have air filters that clean the air every hour. What we have FOUND, is that everyone is relieved when they visit knowing we have kept them safe, and I think you’ll FEEL the same way too.”
Customize this message to fit the safety precautions in your office, implement Feel, Felt, Found, and you’ll be amazed at how many people decide not to cancel after all!
It is crucial to develop official language and messaging once you have established your protocols. We worked with a practice that had an issue booking their longtime patients and their regular appointments because of lack of communication. The office was very diligent in their PPE and patient care, adhering to all guidelines but because of the poor communication their patients had no idea. We worked with them to create messaging and included every step they take to ensure patient safety. Here are some important elements with your communications:
1. Your Monthly Email Newsletter, if you weren’t sending a monthly or quarterly email communication before, now is a good time to implement this tool. Too many sends can be bothersome but just enough can create value for your patients. Include a COVID-19 update in each newsletter and communicate your protocols.
2. Your Website is the heart of your external communications, patients should be able to visit your site and know all the information about your practice. In many cases, a message at the top stating the protocols you are taking can be enough. However, with certain patient demographics you may need an entire webpage.
3. Personal video from the doctor/staff. One method we’ve seen work very well is a personal video from the dentist. The video can help patients see the office and hear from the doctor personally about the details. This can really create ease amongst worrisome patients.
4. Patient Outreach when you text appointments. This is a great way to ensure patients don’t get cold feet the day of the appointment.