A whopping 71% of patients don’t feel safe visiting the dentist during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a poll conducted in April. No wonder a recent survey by the ADA Health Policy Institute (HPI) found that, although many dental practices have reopened, the vast majority are seeing much lower patient volume than normal.
Making patients feel comfortable returning to the dentist will require marketing your safety protocols. The key is to explain in clear and simple terms what you are doing to comply with COVID-19 health guidance for dental offices.
To gain patients’ confidence, be proactive. Don’t wait until patients have made appointments to let them know about safety measures you’re using. Ideally, start promoting these changes before you even reopen, to reassure patients that they’re in good hands.
Begin by updating your website with new content that will answer all the questions returning patients may have:
- Update your office hours. To limit the number of patients in the office and allow social distancing while meeting patient demand, you may have to offer extended office hours. Emphasize that the longer office hours are designed to help protect patients from infection.
- Explain the infection control measures you’ll use. Give patients details about what you’re doing to protect them. How will you screen employees and patients for COVID-19? What kind of personal protective equipment (PPE) will your staff use? How will you maintain social distancing? How often will you clean and disinfect your office?
- Think visually. A picture is worth a thousand words, so use photos and video to show the changes you’re making. This can go a long way to put patients’ minds at ease. For example, you can share photos of dentists and hygienists wearing PPE, a video walk-through of what a dental visit will look like with new protocols in place, or videos demonstrating how you sanitize equipment and surfaces between patients.
- Promote your technology. Patients of all ages have become much more comfortable using apps during the COVID-19 pandemic. Describe the ways you’ll use technology to reduce contact. Share how Lighthouse 360 enables you to set up a virtual waiting room so that patients can wait safely in their cars until your staff texts them that it’s time to come in. Explain how contactless new patient registration works thanks to Lighthouse 360’s Patient FastTrack feature.
- Use checklists. You can also create checklists of procedures you’re implementing for safety and hygiene, as well as what patients need to do before they come in for an appointment and what they can expect when they arrive at the office.
- Offer tele-dentistry options. If tele-dentistry is allowed in your state and is something you’re offering, explain how it works and when it’s useful. For patients who are still leery of visiting an office or can’t do so because they’re especially vulnerable to COVID-19, this can provide a valuable alternative. A video on your website showing tele-dentistry in action can help patients understand and get comfortable with the process.
Once your website includes all of this information, use your email newsletter and social media accounts to share links to the content. Lighthouse 360 makes it easy to create and send tailored emails that will help reassure patients of all the ways you’re keeping them safe. By being open about steps you are taking to comply with COVID-19 guidelines, you can put your patients at ease—and get them back in your chairs again.