My April blog covered initial communications to your patients, as we all got used to the realities of lockdown.
This blog shares my thoughts on the next ‘phase’ of communication, as attention starts to turn to preparations for re-opening dental practices.
Whether or not you took my original recommendations on connecting with patients on board, you can make use of the insights below to prepare your practice for a successful re-opening.
The initial focus of your patient communications as you look to re-open your practice on a limited basis is reassurance.
You should explain to your patients any changes you are planning to the way you deliver their dental service, including any support from your practice that will continue to be remotely delivered.
For many patients, the prospect of visiting your practice in person will be daunting as lockdown eases..
It’s up to you to provide the reassurance that your patients need to feel safe to visit you.
Make sure you explain about the safety measures you have in place, covering the whole patient journey from arrival in your car park, entrance into your practice, reception, in surgery and leaving surgery.
- Pre-appointment patient screening
- Patient diagnostic tests you will conduct on their arrival
- How you will maintain social distancing / staggering appointments / reducing contact points
- The additional measures in place to ensure communal areas such as your waiting room and toilets are suitably administered
- What they can expect while in surgery, including the PPE your team will be wearing
- Making payment and leaving your premises
- Measures for effectively dealing with other visitors to your practice e.g. suppliers
Target Your Communications
The more you can target your communications at this time to a patient’s individual circumstances, the better.
For example, you should segment your patient base to identify those most at risk to Covid-19 and likely to be most concerned about their visits. These patients will need detailed information on the safety measures in place, potentially delivered to them on an individual basis.
Delivery of Your Communications
Do consider all the possible ways at your disposal to deliver your messages to patients.
Most smartphones have great quality video features nowadays and I encourage you to explore the possibility of video communication, should you be yet to do so.
To maximise the amount of patients who are prepared to visit for their appointments, you need to maximise the trust and faith they have in your team and the safety systems you will uphold.
Imagine how much more powerful a video tour of your practice would be, featuring an upbeat, team member(s) explaining your safety measures in each area, in comparison to a written email.
Or a smiley video from a hygienist expressing how they are looking forward to seeing the patient again and confirming how they will help them during their visit.
There is no substitute for a friendly, familiar face.
Point to note: video communication might not be suitable for older patients who aren’t used to accessing videos. See point above on patient segmentation.
As your ability to widen the provision of dental care increases in due course, you will need to reinforce the importance of maintaining oral health to your patients. This will help ensure patients don’t elect to put off visiting for routine appointments.
A few ideas of how you can provide this patient ‘education’:
- 7 ways your hygienist helps you
- 5 ways your dentist protects your health during a check-up, with a link to book
- A patient case study sharing how their oral health improved by seeing the hygienist, again with a link to make a booking
To discuss this crucial stage of your patients communications, feel free to call me on 01249 712074 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m here to help.
Stay safe and well
Dee Gerrish MCIM PGDip
Business Consultant / Business Development & Marketing Manager