Practice Improvements You Can Make While You're Not Treating Patients

By Sally McKenzie, CEO Printer Friendly Version

At the urging of the American Dental Association (ADA) and other dental organizations, many clinicians have opted to close their practices to help stop the spread of COVID-19. I know this is a difficult decision to make, and if you’re among the dentists staying home, you’re likely worried about what this temporary, unplanned closure will do to your practice.

Yes, these are challenging, uncertain times, but there are steps you can take to set yourself up for success once you’re seeing patients again. I suggest you use this as an opportunity to make positive changes in your practice. Not sure how to start? That’s where I come in. Here are my tips for practice improvements you can make while you’re not able to care for patients chairside:

Do a walk-through. Now that your usually busy schedule is pretty open, take a stroll through your practice and try to see it through your patients’ eyes. What is your first impression? Could the reception area use some updating? Are the walls screaming for fresh paint? Do the carpets look like they haven’t been cleaned in a while? Walk through the entire practice and take note of any repairs or updates you can handle yourself, and then make plans to do them while the office is closed. Patients will love the freshened-up office when they’re able to return.

Check on all unpaid insurance claims. Run a report to see how many outstanding insurance claims there are, and then start contacting insurance companies that haven’t paid yet. Keep in mind you don’t have any new revenue coming in right now, but you still have bills to cover. Making sure insurance claims have been paid is critical. 

Give your website some attention. Take the time to really explore your website and make sure it provides patients with useful information about your practice and the services you offer. Is it easy to navigate and esthetically pleasing? If the answer is no, now is the time to fix it.

I also suggest you check out other practice websites, including offices in your community. What do these websites have that yours doesn’t? What improvements can you make? Put together a list of any changes you’d like to see and then share that list with your website designer. Work closely with your designer to ensure any updates you make will lead to more website traffic and ultimately more new patients once this is all over.

Up your social media game. Social media is more important than ever right now. Remember, patients are stuck at home too, and platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram offer a great way for them to stay in touch with friends, family and local businesses.

Continue to post to your pages, but also consider altering your social media strategy. Ask yourself how the content you’re posting could be more engaging and determine which types of posts get the most interaction. Are before and after photos more popular or do your followers prefer links to helpful articles that relate to services you provide?

I also suggest you take a look at what other dentists are doing for inspiration. Find out what works best and update your strategy as needed so you’re getting the most out of these platforms.

Look at online reviews. It’s important to keep up with online reviews so you know what patients are saying about your office, but this can fall through the cracks when you’re busy treating patients and running a practice. Now is the time to get caught up. Focusing on reviews will help you attract new patients and retain current patients, both of which are critical right now.

Respond to positive reviews by thanking patients for their input and for entrusting your practice with their dental care. Apologize to any patients who have posted negative reviews and let them know you’re working to address the issue. Offer to talk with these patients offline and take their feedback seriously. If you don’t have many online reviews yet, consider reaching out to patients you know are happy with the practice and asking if they’d write one.

Work on strengthening weak systems. If weak systems were holding your practice back before this world disaster, it’s only going to get worse when you’re back up and running. Take this opportunity to really look at your systems, identify problems and make necessary changes. This might mean revamping your recall system to get more patients in the chair, improving your patient education efforts to up your case acceptance numbers or putting a collections policy in place that makes it clear when payment is due. Fix problems now so you can reap the benefits of high preforming, streamlined systems later.

Take advantage of free education. I have more than 50 free webinars you can access at The webinars address a variety of areas that are crucial right now including improving case acceptance and increasing patient retention.

These are challenging times for everyone. Focusing on making improvements while you’re not seeing patients will set your practice up for success when it’s time to reopen. I know this is stressful and you may be worried about your practice’s future. If you need more guidance, please reach out.

I’m now offering Virtual Video Conferencing Coaching. Decisions are hard to formulate and we are here to help you hurdle these challenges.  It’s nice to know you have someone on your side.  Learn more here: I’m here to help.

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