ASK ACE Q&A
By Dr. Ace Goerig, Owner & Co-Founder
Q: Patients are still coming in very nervous about the pandemic. Sometimes we have trouble scheduling them, even when they are in pain. How do we put them at ease?
A: There is probably no other place your patients can go in their daily life that has better control for the virus than a dental practice. To my knowledge, there is not a single known case of COVID-19 transmission in dental practice setting. We have always recognized our infection control responsibilities, and we do it better than anyone. And now, as a result of measures implemented during the pandemic, we are even better than before.
It’s important to communicate these facts to your patients. In the past, we’ve hidden our infection control procedures. Sterilization happens out of sight, and patients arrive with no idea how extensive our efforts are. As a result, their fear is being driven by uninformed perception.
If the team senses any fear or concern from patients when they are on the phone scheduling, it’s a good time to pause and say something like this:
“Before we continue, the doctor wanted me to tell you about the steps we have taken to ensure your safety in our practice. Dental practices are already one of the most sterile and controlled environments you can visit in your daily life, but we’ve added more safety measures, including … [describe].”
That should be followed up with a meticulous patient experience when they arrive at your practice. Your team needs to be well-trained and comfortable communicating about everything. They also can’t show any signs of nervousness themselves. The overwhelming feeling you want to create is that the practice is in control and confident.
Because perception is so important, when your assistant escorts the patient through the practice to the treatment room, it’s a great opportunity to conversationally point out all the protective measures you have established. They can point out the safety panels at the front desk, curtains that you have added to treatment room entrances, air filtration, extraoral suction, masks, gloves, faceshields, etc. Patients will get the point very quickly that they are in good hands.
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