Six Things to Do to Make Your Ortho Practice Experience Special Post-Covid

Some of our clients have said that they feel they can’t do any of the things they used to do that make the patient experience special at their practices. So we put together this short list of some ideas to help:

Custom Masks – Get some fun cloth masks made up or purchase some cool styles that are available now and give them away during first time office visits as a welcome back gift.

Hard of Hearing Friendly” Masks  – These allow for people to see your smile through the mask. Could be a nice way to feel like you’re connecting more with your patients.  

Big Welcome – When you reopen, for some patients, it will be one of the first places they get to go to since quarantine began. Make it a big deal. Have everyone shout the patient’s name when they come in the door (“Welcome back, Johnny!”). Since you will probably be seeing a limited number of patients at one time, this should be easy to do for the first few weeks.

Patient Appreciation Event: Drive In Movie – You’d need a large field and to rent a screen / projector system. Might need to do a few nights in order to incorporate the number of people you usually have at your events.

Birthday Surprise – Find a local shop to deliver cookies or something else fun for every birthday in your database.

Patient Appreciation Party – Host a Zoom party. Hire a virtual DJ (this is a thing now) and ask the patients to join. Give prizes to patients in attendance and offer them advice on orthodontic treatment. You can use this as a great way to inform patients on your new office rules post-Covid as well.

Ten Tips to Reopening Your Orthodontic Practice Post Covid-19

Certain parts of the country are preparing to reopen after weeks of enforced shutdowns due to the Coronavoius pandemic. As we open there are many things to consider, first and foremost is the health of our patients and staff. Here we present a quick round up of 10 things to consider when reopening to protect yourself, your staff and your patients.

  1. Staff communication about safety – Write up a plan for safety and then communicate with staff to set the mood and expectations about the new safety procedures.
  2. Address staff concerns – Have an open forum for Q&A and to address any concerns from your staff about safety and your expectations.
  3. Patient communication about safety – Tell them about your use of PPEs and address fears and concerns they might have. Have an email developed for patients focused on safety, which links to a document that explains your COVID-19 safety measures. Also think about in-office signage.
  4. Put a Covid Q&A on your website – And then promote it through email and social media. Also make sure your safety procedures are outlined on the website.
  5. Staggering Appointments – Make sure you do not overload your office and staff. People will understand that it will take some time to get them back into the office because you are taking the proper precautions.
  6. Patient check-in changes and restricted office entry – If your waiting room is closed (it should be) then explain how the check in process will work moving forward. Who can be in the office and when? Spouses, friends, caregivers, and parents should wait outside. They can bring patients to the front door and hand-off to tech for the actual appointment. No chairside loitering.
  7. Reduce surface areas and touching – Use a plexiglass separator for the front desk and remove all takeaway material like displays, models, brochures and flyers.
  8. Resupplying – Any supplies should be mailed whenever possible or a safe handoff made during appointments or outside of the office.
  9. Sanitization procedures in place – Have explicit procedures for sanitization and make sure staff are responsible for it. Make one member of your staff the sanitization lead. Communicate your plan to patients.
  10. Virtual appointments – Continue the use of virtual appointments whenever feasible to limit patient traffic.

If you want to know more about how to supercharge your marketing and increase patient starts for your practice, contact People & Practice today by clicking here to request a free marketing analysis or call 888.866.DOCS, or email hello@pplpractice.com.

READ: Long Island Orthodontists Continue to “See” Patients Virtually

People & Practice and three of our clients were recently featured in a great article on teledentistry for orthodontists on LongIsland.com. In the article our orthodontic clients spoke about their feelings when Covid-19 lock downs began and how People & Practice helped them prepare for a practice with patients in quarantine.

The doctor will see you now, virtually. Here is how Long Island orthodontists have adjusted to life with patients in quarantine.

So many Long Island businesses have had to adapt to the shelter-in-place orders and shut-down of non-essential businesses. While most medical practices could remain open, non-emergency dental treatment was deemed too risky to continue.

This put local orthodontists in a predicament. While no one would die if they missed their next appointment, orthodontics is an ongoing treatment process that requires adjustments, monitoring, and occasionally, a situation needs to be addressed immediately (think of those wires coming loose and poking the inside of your mouth.)

Luckily, orthodontists had options and they’ve been able to use them to “see” patients using what is called telehealth technologies, or in their cases, teledentistry.

Click here to read the full article.

Planning For the Best: Virtual Orthodontic Strategies To Survive COVID-19 Shutdown

By Leon Klempner, DDS and Amy Epstein, MBA

The shock of this crisis is subsiding and we have all learned that social distancing is going to be a way of life for a while. Businesses have begun to adapt by going totally online or converting to a model that doesn’t include putting people together into a small space. Restaurants, liquor stores, and even boutiques are doing curbside pickup and delivery. Companies have adapted video technology like Zoom and teachers are holding class and grading assignments on Google. Everyone except the most essential workers are working remotely now.

This is what we are calling the “new normal” and it’s not the time for orthodontists to project the message that they are closed for the duration. In fact, just the opposite is true. Your patients need to hear from you now, more than ever. They need to be reassured that we can make this work for them and that we are still here for them.

Our industry relies on in-patient treatment to be effective – there is no getting around that. But orthodontists can help mitigate the impact it has on patients as we practice safe social distancing and even temporarily close our offices. Have you thought ahead to a time when we begin opening up the economy again? How many patients can you see at one time? Are you prepared to see 3,000-5,000 patient adjustment visits from day one when you reopen?

You can avoid disaster by rolling your adjustment appointments right now. We have been recommending our clients confirm, not cancel scheduled appointments. Part of a good strategy to help you continue to serve your current patients and even attract new ones includes telehealth technologies.

There are plenty of technologies out there that can enable us to do virtual appointments via photos/video and engage new patients and answer many of their questions. Here’s how it works:

For existing patients, instead of coming into the office, use a free or inexpensive photo/video conference application like SmileMate and Photo monitoring Lite by Dental Monitoring or even have your web developer include a photo uploader onto your site. Patients can use their smartphone or laptop to upload their progress photos. Review their photos before their scheduled appointments and then keep the appointment via video instead.  Most people have been using these video chat platforms now for a few weeks and are very comfortable with them. Doxy.me and Zoom are popular choices and since HIPAA laws have been temporarily suspended you can even use FaceTime to consult with patients remotely.

Don’t think you have to hit pause all of your initial consultations either. If a new patient contacts you wondering when they might be able to come in for an appointment, offer a free video consult. SmileMate by Dental Monitoring, Rhinogram, SmileSnap and Digital Smylz are all perfectly suited for scheduling a consultation virtually. Although you can not do a physical exam or take radiographs, you can give general information and answer questions about insurance eligibility, financial arrangements and estimate treatment time.  As soon as it is safe to do so, you will be ready to begin treatment with a new patient immediately.

Many of our clients have already implemented these platforms and strategies into their workflow and are seeing success. They create blog posts, welcome videos and advertise that they are “open” for business, at least virtually.

We also have a “Virtual Appointment Resource Guide For Orthodontists” that we are giving to orthodontists as a PDF for free. You can find it here.

Keeping appointments via video conference is an opportunity to reassure your patients that everything is okay and you are readily available for any emergencies or help them track progress so they don’t lose ground while sheltering in.  Most importantly, you connect with the patient, reestablish your relationship, and demonstrate your value.

Leon Klempner, DDS and Amy Epstein, MBA are co-founders of People & Practice, a digital marketing consultancy exclusively for orthodontists. They also host The Survival Guide for Orthodontists (www.pplpractice.com/podcast), a podcast dedicated to making you the authority in orthodontics to prospective new patients in your community. People & Practice builds trust in your practice online to help you get new patients in a digital era by convincing them (before even meeting you) that you’re the practice to choose. For more information or a free marketing analysis, go to  https://pplpractice.com/virtual-orthodontic-practice, call 888-866-DOCS or email leon@pplpractice.com.

Image: Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Important: Strategies for Orthodontists Dealing With the Coronavirus

Our latest podcast is a special one to address the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis and how it is affecting the orthodontic industry. Our industry relies on in-patient treatment to be effective – there is no getting around that. But we can help mitigate the impact it has on our patients as we practice safe social distancing and even temporarily close our offices. Part of that strategy includes telehealth technologies to help you continue to serve your current patients and even attract new ones.

In this podcast we talk about our strategies to help orthodontists get through this crisis and we speak with Dental Monitoring CEO & Founder Philippe Salah.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE FULL EPISODE TODAY!

WATCH: Take Back the Easy Cases

Have you been watching our Monday Motivation series? Check them out by following us on Facebook and LinkedIn. We publish a new video every other Monday morning.

In case you missed it here is our most recent Monday Motivation video… What happened to the easy cases? Have we let opportunity slip through our fingers? Taking back the easy cases is the subject of our video today. How can we recapture what we lost and change the conversation about independent ortho practices.

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READ Our Latest JCO Article: Disrupt the Disrupters of the Orthodontic Industry

I’m going to drop some truth on you right from the start. You might have a solid, traditional marketing program that brings in patients, but it is not going to be enough. The long game isn’t in your favor, because new technologies are emerging all the time to eat away at your business as your clientele gets younger and more technologically savvy, demanding convenient services and almost entirely digital communication.

To quote the great philosopher Yogi Berra, the future ain’t what it used to be. The orthodontic industry has changed, and there’s no going back. Conventional private, fee-for-service practices are finding it harder to compete for a smaller slice of the same pie. Direct-to-consumer (DTC) clear aligner treatment options are commoditizing our business, causing downward pressure on fees and automating services to the point where a segment of orthodontics is as transactional as an Uber ride…

Click here to read the full article.

Our Next Podcast Guest: Dr. David Sarver

We speak with Dr. David Sarver, a world-class orthodontist practicing in Alabama, author of multiple books on the industry including a brand new one just released , and a prolific speaker with over 400 engagements under his belt in the United States, Europe, Australia and the Middle and the Far East. He also played Division 1 basketball in college. Dr. Sarver talks to us about his unique take on building trust in a practice for both the young clinician and the established orthodontist.

Topics covered also include:

  • Thoughts on differentiating a practice based on quality and trust
  • Considering the aging smile in your treatment plan
  • The value both clinically and as a marketing tool of bringing patients back over the years for follow up appointments
  • Personal growth and knowledge needed to bring the highest quality care to your patients

About Our Guest:

Dr. Sarver received his DMD from The University of Alabama School of Dentistry and M.S. in Orthodontics from the University of North Carolina in 1979. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics, a member of the Edward H. Angle Society of Orthodontists, a Fellow in both the International and American Colleges of Dentists and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry.

In addition to his private practice, Dr. Sarver’s book, “Esthetics in Orthodontics and Orthognathic Surgery” was published in September 1998. He is also co-author (with Dr. Proffit and White) of the surgical text “Contemporary Treatment of Dentofacial Deformity), and is co-author the 4th and 5th editions of Proffit’s classic textbook “Contemporary Orthodontics”. He has given more than 300 professional presentations in the United States, Europe, Australia and the Middle and the Far East.

Your Might be Too Busy to Notice You’re Practice May be Heading to Disaster

We’re lucky that we get to speak with some of the most respected and effective professionals in the orthodontics industry who are helping to ensure that independent private practices are going to thrive in the future. Every month during my podcast, “The Survival Guide to Orthodontics,” we speak to a different expert in the field or we bring in the big guns from “Big Ortho” like Invisalign to talk about how orthodontists can work with their products and services to increase market share.

In episode 8 of our podcast, we spoke with Charlene White, owner of Progressive Concepts, an orthodontic practice management consultant with over 35 years of experience helping to improve practice performance. For anyone who listened to the podcast, she gave some very useful advice on how she evaluates a practice and optimizes systems to improve efficiency and profitability.

One of the first things White looks at when evaluating a practice is the net production compared to net collections. Doctors might feel busy, she told us during the interview but when net production is lagging behind net collections that is a big red flag to her.

“I know you feel busy and you saw 100 patients today but if we don’t fix this production issue in the next year or two, the practice will generate less income,” White said.

The second set of KPIs she looks at is clinical efficiency. She will dig deep into the clinical efficiency of a practice including metrics around patient flow, what affects office stress, and reducing overhead. 

“A lot of people do not realize the impact of clinical systems that are inefficient,” she said.

Overall, White says she looks at 60 different KPIs, which brings to the forefront the data behind the operations of your practice. You might feel like you’re busy but if the metrics aren’t right, you are going to go from feast to famine in the near future.

“Feeling busy is not enough,” she said.

She said that many orthodontists are very focused on the clinical sides of things in a practice that we tend to not pay as much attention to the business end of things.

One thing that’s important to creating a more efficient practice is to focus on building a peak performance team. You have to be as good at Human Resources as you are at clinical treatment. White suggested a doctor take educational courses about human relations. White said that it’s important as orthodontists become busier that they have skilled clinical managers and office managers.

“Hone your hiring skills,” she said. Or you can with a practice management consultant.

Staff members need to be accountable for their roles and responsibilities and there needs to be a good system for follow up so nothing falls between the cracks.

All this is vital to a thriving practice.

When my company, People & Practice, performs a marketing evaluation we want to make sure the practice is operating efficiently and has a handle on patient conversion. Orthodontists know they have to go direct-to-market and not depend so much on referrals. But, their internal processes need to be tight by the time they do go to market so that they’re not filling a bucket that has holes in it.

Charlene gave plenty of other great advice including some great information on how to build a healthy recall system. You can’t wait years and expect patients to just come back to you. It’s important to reach out once a year to past patients and invite them back for some kind of fun event. She said it’s important to create a practice where patients have a very positive experience and are part of the family.

The idea is to make them feel like patients even though they might not be in treatment yet.

“Make sure the office environment is a place where they are having a good time,” White said. “They see this is the place for them. I want to hear, ‘I love this place.’”

You can find our interview with Charlene White and other great episodes at www.pplpractice.com/podcast.

Our Next Podcast Guest: Landy Chase

We speak with Landy Chase, president and CEO of OrthoYes, an orthodontic business consultancy that specializes in training practices how to increase their start rates with effective and detailed procedures for all members of the office staff. He is also an author of five books on the subject, In this episode we speak with Landy about how your office can start more cases and improve overall conversion rates. The secret? It’s not improving the performance of your Treatment Coordinator but how the doctor communicates the value of treatment to prospective patients. 

Topics covered also include:

  • The skills to look for in hiring a Treatment Coordinator
  • How to structure an effective initial consultation with your TC
  • How orthodontists can compete with “Big Ortho”

About Our Guest:

Landy Chase is a practice consultant and award-winning author and speaker who specializes in training orthodontic practices to increase the start rate of prospective patients. He provides highly effective, detailed procedures for doctors, TCs and staff to attract and acquire new orthodontic patients for client practices. He works exclusively within the orthodontic profession as a trainer, consultant and coach and has been a featured speaker at numerous study clubs around the United States. He has worked personally with over 100 client practices in just the last three years.

Subscribe to our podcast and listen to this episode: https://pplpractice.com/episode-9/