For those of us ready to wrap up our many weeks of binging on Netflix and ready to start seeking some structure, Dr. Paul Etchison of Chicago and Dr. Justin Bhullar of Florida are here to help mentor us on the reopening process.
As Dr. Bhullar says, a lot of us dentists like to be sure of things. But with COVID-19’s rampage, it’s hard to be sure of exactly what a full or partial reopening might look like. How will patients feel about elective treatment and how are their healthcare benefits affected by this pandemic?
Both Dr. Bhullar and Dr. Etchison agree that your first step is always to consult your team. It’s important to know which team members are ready to come back and how the pandemic has affected them personally. Give your team the opportunity to voice any of their concerns and ideas to help guide you in preparing a relaunch schedule.
As I’ve mentioned in previous discussions, it’s possible that the reopening process will come with a rush of backlogged patients. For most of us, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should go crazy ordering lots of supplies. Dr. Bhullar warns that it’s possible that the months following our initial reopening may be slower due to the long-term economic and social impacts of this virus. As time goes on, new safety measures and norms will be solidified. For now, buying an expensive UV light to check for germs probably isn’t in your best interest.
Contrastly, Dr. Etchison predicts his office will be extremely busy, requiring extended operational days and equipment to meet the new need. For Dr. Etchison, how his team feels about things is vital to his success. Unlike his partner Dr. Bhullar, he’s invested lots of money in new safety-related tools to help his team feel more comfortable while doing their work. It’s Dr. Etchison’s belief that if his team feels safe, that secure feeling will rub off on patients and mitigate fear and other negative feelings that may arise with re-opening.
When communicating with your team, Dr. Etchison recommends creating anonymous surveys about some of the more pressing questions so that people don’t feel embarrassed or like outliers when voicing their genuine concerns. Similarly, Dr. Bhullar is honing on improved communication by setting his goals to both over-communicate and stay visible. Through Facebook chats, universal videos, and connection to upper management, Dr. Bhullar is able to stay connected with all of his teams during this transitional phase.
He has created a comprehensive relaunch plan that reduces the anxiety of his associate doctors who face uncertainty. This includes strategies to mitigate risk without compromising long term growth objectives. He refuses to be passive and ensures that his team is aware of what is coming in the future. This helps solidify expectations and give associate doctors a sense of certainty.
Similarly, Dr. Etchison has mapped out reopening starting with a two-week ramp-up of practice, role-playing, and continued open communication.
During our talk, he noted the value of texting patients whether doing a remote waiting room or not. He’s seen more measurable results from automatic texts than phone calls because, as he says, most people don’t have their dentists saved as contacts and won’t answer unknown callers. However, the duo notes that for those of us whose clientele is more rural-based or over fifty years old, a phone call still works wonders.
One of the biggest pieces of advice from the two dentist mentors is to keep doing stuff every day, even when you’re confined from home. For most of us, this has been difficult, but with reopening just around the corner, it’s important to do some catchup work in the future and adjust our sleep cycles to best serve our returning patients.
One positive way to kickstart this effort is diving back into the growth mindset: spend this extra time on training sessions like Dr. Etchison and Dr. Bhullar’s Dental Business Mentor Program to get ahead in your practice on a long term basis.
Terrible crises in history didn’t last forever. We’ll come out of this. To help himself fight the blues of temporary closures, Dr. Bhullar says that he envisions his gratitudes, lingers in that space, and allows his fears to dwindle. Celebrate your wins and keep your head turned toward the brighter future ahead.
Learn more about:
An overall strategy for a grand reopening
Priorities to address when creating a new schedule
Whether or not you should invest in new safety equipment
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