The pandemic has surely had its effects on the business world, but for dental practices, things are beginning to look up.
Since March of 2020, most dentists did notice a significant decline in appointments as patients chose to delay cleanings, cosmetic dentistry procedures and other voluntary services. But, with the decline of virus infection rates and the emergence of multiple vaccines, patients are eager to get in the chair and take care of their dental health in 2021.
A study by the American Dental Association1 shows:
- 23% of patients remained active with their dental care throughout COVID-19
- 60% of patients are ready and willing to see a dentist
- 12% of patients would prefer to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or see proven medical protocol to mitigate and remedy the effects of the virus before returning
- 5% of patients would prefer to hear local or national medical or government authorities provide safety assurances before returning
After a long and rather arduous year, patient volume should return to near-normal as 83% of patients have indicated they are ready and willing to see a dentist.
So, what’s next? Here are our recommendations to ensure a successful 2021 in your dental practice. Focus on:
- Safety: It’s time to reassure your patients that they can visit your practice safely. Make a list of all the risk mitigation strategies you’ve employed and share them openly with you patients. Is your staff fully vaccinated? Have you invested in new cleaning and sterilization services?
- Communication: Decide upon a regular rhythm to reach out to your patients to both share and remind them of your safety strategy—perhaps a weekly email to start. It will serve not only to comfort your patients as they return to their regular visits, but will also remind them it’s time to book.
- Teledentistry: For those who have adapted to phone and video chat consultations, stay steady on your path. The pandemic has taught us all how efficient, safe and effective virtual meetings can be. Your practice and your patients will save precious time avoiding the check-in process, freeing up space in your waiting room to maintain social distancing guidelines and removing the chance of potential infection.
It’s an exciting time in dentistry as practices are finally able to rise out of their pandemic-induced slump and are beginning to show signs of a very profitable—and healthy—2021. With an eye on patient safety, communication and adaptation, you can greatly improve those odds.
- The impact of COVID-19 on the dental care sector. Insights from data for the week of November 16th. American Dental Association. Health Policy Institute. 2020.