It has been about seven months since the implementation of widespread restrictions aimed at stemming the spread of COVID-19, and some practices are currently seeing a downturn in routine maintenance and hygiene appointments as a consequence.
Now that most businesses have reopened and, in many areas, are operating at full capacity again, it is important they communicate that it is safe for patrons to come back. This is especially important for dental practices considering the intimate nature of doctor-patient interactions.
If this delicate topic is not approached effectively, patients may feel apprehensive about possible exposure to COVID-19 or other infections and may continue to delay scheduling their hygiene and treatment appointments until they feel it is safer to do so.
With this in mind, a dental practice has a number of tools at its disposal for reaching patients and ensuring they know it’s safe to come in. One of the first and most impactful lines of communication is the practice’s website.
A popup or section on the homepage that briefly explains the health and safety measures being taken at the practice is a good start. The practice can also go further by adding a page dedicated specifically to COVID-19 safety or a frequently asked questions section regarding the risks surrounding dental care for patients who might be embarrassed to ask in person.
Facebook is another important communication tool. It can be used to post pictures of staff sanitizing the office, wearing masks and gloves, as well as pictures of patients who have recently visited. Facebook can also be used to post general reminders that dental health is important, even during these times, and that the office is prioritizing patient health and safety.
Because Facebook is so versatile—the practice can post as often as it wants and patients are likely to see what is posted there—it is an excellent way to get the safety message across.
If the practice has a blog or sends regular emails to existing patients, a COVID-19 safety-themed message or post is essential in communicating that it is open and perfectly safe for everyone. These channels provide the best opportunity to explain in greater detail what the practice is doing on a daily, hourly, and patient-by-patient basis to keep the office and patient treatment areas sanitized and safe.
One very important step that every dental practice should take is to produce a video that can be posted on various channels explaining how staff handles safety while making patients feel welcome and well cared for. Videos feel personal, and it’s also reassuring for patients to see the dentist personally explain what is going on at the practice. A personal message directly from the lead doctor can go a long way toward building trust and credibility.
No matter which communication channels a practice uses, it’s always a good idea to include a friendly reminder about the consequences of skipping or delaying needed procedures and emphasize how maintaining good oral hygiene is essential. Of course, dentists know exactly what can happen if a simple procedure like a filling isn’t taken care of in a timely manner, but their patients may not be aware.
In fact, it’s best not to assume that patients know it’s safe to come into the office at all, as media coverage in general tends to be more on the negative side, not reporting on the safety measures local businesses are taking often enough, making it even more essential that dental practices do what they can to get a positive message out there.
While some dental practices may not be seeing any dips in patient appointment volume, there are many that are. Regardless, it never hurts to reassure patients that dental procedures are as safe as ever and that coming into the office for routine hygiene appointments does not put them at increased risk for contracting the coronavirus.
With more than a decade of experience in corporate dental laboratory marketing and brand development, Ms. Ulasewich–Cullen decided to take her passion for the dental business and marketing to the next level by founding My Dental Agency. Since starting her company, she and her team have helped a wide variety of practices all over the nation focus their message, reach their target audience, and increase their sales through effective marketing campaigns. She can be reached at (800) 689-6434 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.