Reopening and Recovering: Taking Steps Back to the New Normal

Michael D. Brown and Bruce Baird, DDS
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Right now, every industry is facing a turning point. After months of social distancing protocols and more than a quarter of slowed business, states are beginning to reopen and the country is taking steps to return to a new normal. But what does this new normal look like? Businesses of all sizes are looking at a new landscape of protocols that will change the way teams operate and interact with customers and coworkers.

For healthcare professionals, who have long followed guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for safety, this means changing the ways they prep for and work with patients. To comply with the government’s recommended guidelines, providers will have to take longer with patients and account for more time between appointments to ensure thorough and proper sanitization, leading to potentially fewer patient visits a day and, therefore, slower turnover rates.

This reduced availability for the sake of safety will expose practitioners to financial risk. With FICO scores likely dropping and more stringent rules being placed on conventional third-party financing, they will also likely see their patients face difficulties in affording procedures.

Alongside the increasing costs and demand for personal protective equipment (PPE), these factors will ultimately lead to providers seeing a decrease in profits. While the potential continuation of the pandemic continues to be a concern, planning for success while evaluating and monitoring the situation is a best practice for all business leaders.

When approaching this new way of working, healthcare business owners now must be thoughtful and creative in the way they structure their operations. After months of limited business, the road to recovery will be bumpy, but there are steps providers can take that will ease the pressure. By following these tips during this straining time, practicing will be less stressful and provide the financial base you need to stay profitable.

Prepare Your Team

Your team is your biggest asset in your business. As you develop your operations plan, it is vital for all owners and managers to thoroughly prepare their teams ahead of time before going back to the office. Communication is key.

Make sure everyone knows the timeline for reopening, the new mandatory safety protocols, and the way patients will be scheduled to account for demand and safety. Continue to reinforce these shared strategies every week during team meetings and huddles to ensure consistency. When everyone is on the same page, operations will become seamless, and businesses will seem more professional and capable.

Schedule Based on Productivity

Productive scheduling is crucial to maximizing your patient output and making a profit, while still accounting for safety. This is the first time that many providers will have a backlog of hundreds of patients and with less availability. Now is the time to get creative with the way you service patients and meet the high demand.

The right schedule will help businesses make up for lost time and ensure safety. If you need support in determining a better way of scheduling case load, you may seek help from professional services like the Productive Dentist Academy to learn new tactics that will increase productivity and profitability.

Say Yes to Same-Day Dentistry

Once your team is onboard and your schedule is set, you can set yourself up to do same-day dentistry on emergency procedures and hygiene appointments. Work with your team to have trays prepared at the start of the day ready for endo, crowns, and fillings. If possible, designate certain rooms for emergency procedures that will allow you to pivot quickly without delaying the schedule or wasting the patients’ time.

Look for New Patients and Opportunities

New patients are an important part of sustaining any business. There are certain steps you can take to attract new patients. From search engine optimization to social media, marketing will allow you to solidify your brand while reaching untapped markets for potential procedures.

Additionally, every new person who comes into the office should receive a comprehensive exam. This not only will allow you to do your due diligence with them, but it will also help build bonds and trust that will lead them to reach out for future procedures.

While growth from new patients can fuel growth, many practitioners generate immediate growth by also preforming a chart review analysis and uncovering patents with treatment plans that were never initiated. 

Offer Payment Options

Coming out of the pandemic, many patients will have a harder time paying for necessary procedures. For many, financing may be the best option for affordability and accessibility. Consider offering solutions like CFI’s Compassionate Finance that provide payment plans so patients can choose the best financial option for them. This kinder view of healthcare financing will cast a large net of potential patients you can take, while also creating another set of revenue coming into the business in the form of interest.

Just like we tell patients, recovery will happen. It just may take some time. By being prepared and adaptable, you can find new ways to help your business bounce back and your patients afford the care they need.

The road may be long, but your skills as a business owner have set you up for success. The new normal doesn’t have to be a punishment. By making these changes to strengthen your business, you will ultimately become more flexible and successful in the long run.

Dr. Baird is a well-respected cosmetic and family dentist based in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. He also is the founder of the Productive Dentist Academy, a consulting and marketing company that equips dentists with strategies to improve treatment planning. He additionally is the founder and chairman of the board for Comprehensive Finance Inc, a financial services company that offers payment solutions for dentists and other healthcare providers. With nearly 35 years of experience leading a successful dental practice, Granbury Dental Center, Dr. Baird is an expert voice in dentistry and private practice ownership.

Mr. Brown is CEO and president of Comprehensive Finance Inc. He is a commercially minded healthcare innovator with more than 25 years of experience best known as the CEO of a company that has pioneered a human-centered, technology-driven approach to solving one of the most difficult aspects of healthcare services by helping healthcare organizations tackle the cost and complexity of billing and collections issues in a way that empowers both patients and practitioners. Brown’s leadership is forged on a common belief that simplifying the payment process helps all patients get access to the high-quality care they deserve.

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