Belle DuCharme

CDPMA, Dental Training Consultant

Prioritizing Dental Practice Protocols in the Pandemic

We no longer “hit the ground running” when we go to work in the morning.  The everyday stress of a busy schedule overlapping to maximize time is now much different due to the pandemic. 

The new rules must play out to keep everyone safe in the distance and safe in PPE and safe in practice protocols that control aerosols that may harbor COVID 19.  Patients must be screened at every encounter with body temperature readings and questions about activity that could have exposed them to the virus.  This is our new day, and it isn’t going to go away soon or maybe never.  These changes to how we run our day are thrust upon us, and we must now figure out how to be safe and profitable in this new climate. 

Prioritize the day

Patients wait in their cars until they can be “screened” in what used to be the reception room.  Questions regarding any changes in dental insurance, employment, address, and the phone are discovered when the patient makes the appointment online or over the phone, not in the office.

Prioritized tasks and actions in the dental practice aim to be prepared for the patients and all their needs that day, whether it be clinical treatment or administrative duties.   

Priority #1 Daily patients scheduled are the focus.  Any business or clinical task must be prepared in advance.

  1. Verify patients’ contact information, health history, and new screening for COVID exposure.
  2. Verify each patients insurance eligibility and financial arrangement for treatment presented.  Collect payment in advance of therapy planned so that the patient can leave quickly at the end.  Practices that are in-network for plans must give the patient a treatment plan estimate based upon the plan fee schedule and policy limitations. 
  3. Verify treatment to be performed, and signed informed consent is on file for all services planned. 
  4. Verify that lab work is received and equipment, and instruments are available and prepared for the patient.
  5. Verify follow-up appointments, post-operative care, and continuing care appointments scheduled before the patient leaves the treatment room.  Give patient emergency contact information.

Priority #2 Production and Payment equal Profitability

  1. Verify production goals and collection goals are implemented—track production numbers by providers (computer reports) and share with each provider.  Production goals must be established to ensure the practice moves forward towards financial security.  Profits are required to pay raises and improvements to the facility.
  2. Verify account receivables balances and actions to collect daily. (outsource this service to eAssist Dental Solutions)
  3. Verify that any unpaid insurance claims past 30-40 days followed and investigated until paid. (outsource this service to eAssist Dental Solutions)
  4. Verify that all unscheduled and due patients are contacted and offered appointments.
  5. Verify that all scheduled patients confirmed one day before the appointment

Priority #3 Connect with Patients and with the Team for Safety

  1. Verify that each patient receives the attention and extra care to feel safe and secure in your practice. 
  2. Verity that the dental team has all the PPE and newest technology for reliable dental care delivery and feel confident in their security. 
  3. Verify those regular team meetings, whether in practice with safe distancing or by ZOOM or other video meeting platforms, are scheduled, and each person attends. 

Providing a standard of care for everyone safe in these challenging times is the utmost priority for all of us.   Creating synergistic teamwork will give us hope and we will prevail.


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