WHEW! Have you taken some time to really think about all that has changed over the last 6 months? What a whirlwind! Every position in the office has been affected by this. Some have lower exposure risk, and some have very high exposure risks. But one thing remains consistent: The unspoken fear of what the future holds for dentistry.
So many I have reached out to have one main question in mind, “Is this going to be our NEW normal?” Let's talk about what our new normal looks like and spend time thinking about our overall goal in the practice, and what we want to provide to our patients.
This, of course, happens to be the main subject being brought up by every single office. As you know, most offices have run into some sort of an issue obtaining the proper PPE. Pre-Covid we were able to wear our scrubs, lab jacket, mask, and goggles. Now we find ourselves with N95, face shields, proper air flow systems, and lots of disinfectants we didn’t even know existed. Is this a bad thing? Were we too lax before?
I do see the new standards sticking around for PPE. When you relate it to the goal, safety for all, taking infection control measures SHOULD be a serious topic. Not only is this keeping us safer, but our family, and patients, and our community. As healthcare providers, we have really had to step up, and do what is right for all. Great job all!
As part of our protocol, we are pre-screening patients before they come in, to determine their exposure risk. Whether it's the Coronavirus, or another virus, it is always a good idea to do a thorough questionnaire on our patients prior to entering. Since we have already built this into our daily flow, should this become a permanent addition to our everyday practice?
It is recommended for all offices to document employee and patients temperature, prior to entering a dental office. There are a variety of ways we have seen these done, but one thing that remains constant is every patient, every time. Let's think about how this affects us as a dental professional. We know this virus is contagious, as are all viruses and bacterial infections, so keeping the temperature check as part of our daily routine may not be a bad idea. During any time, if a patient comes to the office with a temperature over 100, it may be okay to kindly ask to reschedule their appointment. After all, our overall goal is nothing short of providing excellent care to our patients, while keeping our teams and our patients safe. For me, this is a keeper:)
Before the pandemic, we had a reception area full of families waiting for their appointment. Now, we are either still closed inside, or have very minimal seats, all spaced apart. Although we are not promoting “togetherness”, or “meeting thy neighbor”, we are promoting safety. Patients want to know they are safe. Will this stay around forever? We can continue the option of texting in, or phoning in when we arrive for an appointment, or have the option to wait in the reception area. For me, this is a no go:)
Has anyone missed the nice firm handshake when the patient arrives? To some extent, we have lost some personalization in the mix. The patient experience is always top priority so finding ways to maintain this during a pandemic can be challenging. We always want to make a good first impression to our patients so finding alternatives is key. A smile is a great way to make a good first impression. Being authentic, introducing yourself, being grateful, making eye contact, and acknowledging the patient in a positive way WILL leave a lasting impression!
On another note, taking this time to reorganize your office has been instrumental in moving forward. The rise in outside dental ad ons has really seen an impact. We have seen many not return to the office, causing inefficiencies in the day to day tasks. Therefore, teams have been reaching out to 3rd parties to fill those voids. I do believe this is going to continue long term for the dental community. Call centers, and outside billing companies have seen a major increase this year. With all outside sourcing comes expectations. Setting up the services, and understanding expectations of outcomes, these sources can provide additional, needed support for your practice.
All in all, the new standards may stick around for longer than we would like. The further we get down the road, the more these become our new “normal”. I send praise out to everyone in the dental community that has kept a positive attitude, while embracing all of these changes. None of this has been easy, and it may continue into a normal, so KUDOS to all who have made a difference in our world! Not only are you embracing it, but you are picking up, and moving forward to be the best practice you can be!
- Kellie Black, RDH
Disclaimer: This article is the sole opinion and research of the writer and doesn’t reflect the opinions of ZenSupplies.