The emergence of COVID-19 has caused severe challenges in the global healthcare system. The pandemic didn’t spare dental practices after governments ordered the closure of clinics to prevent the spread of the deadly virus. As a result, many patients are facing disruptions in dental checkups and treatments because of the disrupted dental services.
Delayed dental care leads to various consequences, whether it’s because of clinic closures, reluctance to seek care during a pandemic, or other factors. The challenge is even greater for patients needing urgent care or major oral surgery. The pain and inconvenience they go through can affect the overall quality of their life.
As vaccines roll out and cities begin to reopen, dental clinics are resuming their operations with health and safety in mind. Although dental professionals are implementing new infection control strategies, many are still struggling to encourage patients to return to the dentist chair. We can’t blame these people though, visiting a healthcare facility shortly after a pandemic has affected patients’ comfort levels.
The challenge lies in how dentists can rebuild patients’ trust and ensure comfort and safety about returning to the office. With that in mind, here are ways to strengthen the patient base in your dental clinic after the pandemic.
Educate parents about safety protocols
Dentistry is known for using cutting-edge tools and updated practices when it comes to maintaining a clean clinical environment. In a pandemic, dental clinics have further strengthened their safety protocols to give patients the peace of mind that they won’t risk their health and safety once they step inside the dental clinic.
Dentists can help patients be more comfortable about returning by reassuring them about the expectations once they come for their appointment. Use the power of digital communication tools, such as social media, emails, and mobile alerts, to inform both new and existing patients about updated safety and cleaning protocols. Explain to them how each strategy decreases the risk of exposure.
When interacting with patients on any digital platform, pay attention to the content. This means the messaging should promote trust, safety, reassurance, and confidence. Inform them the clinic staff is up-to-date and knowledgeable about new safety practices, tools, and information related to COVID-19. You can explain to them how the clinic has taken significant steps to adapt and apply necessary changes in response to the pandemic.
For patients with minor dental problems, you can suggest using teledentistry to receive the care and attention they need while in the comfort of their homes. Since the pandemic, healthcare providers have relied heavily on digital technology as an alternative way to provide care and maintain contact with patients.
Teledentistry offers dentists more flexibility in facilitating consultation, diagnosis, and treatment without risking potential exposure.
There are plenty of digital platforms that allow you to provide online dental consultations. But make sure this service is only available for patients with minor issues. Those who need urgent care will need to schedule a face-to-face appointment.
Leverage social media
Social media can play a critical role when it comes to increasing patient engagement. You can do this by using social media platforms to show a sneak peek into the clinic’s daily operations. Besides informing patients about safety protocols, utilize multimedia content, such as images and videos, to demonstrate how the staff prepares before, during, and after every appointment.
Make sure the content is engaging enough to encourage page followers to view your post. Some examples include posting short videos of sanitation protocols so that viewers can observe the measures being implemented to maintain a clean, safe clinical environment. You can also film a sample walkthrough to educate patients about their next appointment and what to do and expect.
Another great tip is to ask existing patients about their recent experience in your clinic. Ask permission to gather testimonials or photos of them to include on your website and social media.
Make it even more personalized by posting videos about oral hygiene tips. Use social media to educate people about the importance of oral health, its impact on overall health, and ways to maintain good oral hygiene.
Now that things are slowly returning to normal, the dental community should actively help patients get back on track by observing health routines, particularly dental checkups. In this case, dentists should recognize factors that make patients hesitant about dental checkups and find ways to help them come back to the clinic. Following the steps above won’t only show your empathy as a healthcare provider but will also increase patients’ trust in your business.