Things you can do to COVID-proof your orthodontic practice
The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and the following pandemic has changed the way we live and work around the world. Orthodontics is no exception. Many practices have reopened after being closed during the shutdown. But there is the very real possibility of another wave in the not-too-distant future. The good news is that there are things you can do now (besides stocking up on PPE and cleaning supplies) to better prepare and COVID-proof your business if and when another wave of shutdowns comes along.
Increase services that don’t require in-person visits
Orthodontists are historically hands-on medical providers. Sometimes there is no other way to treat the patient in your care than by wire braces and the traditional tools of the trade. However, new advancements like aligners have helped patients and providers alike in many ways. One of the benefits of aligners is that you can give your patients several weeks worth of trays at one time, so they don’t have to come into your office as often. As long as you have a good way to check in with your patients and assess their progress, you can extend the time between visits, as well as reducing visits in general.
We also see a trend that other practitioners have expanded their services into general consultation, treatment of TMJ and jaw pain, and sleep issues. The less you have to rely on in-person office visits for revenue, the better prepared you’ll be for the possibility of another shutdown.
Make your business work-from-home friendly
The pandemic has taught us that many more jobs than we ever would have guessed can be done remotely. But there is a lot of variance on how to do work remotely. There are many communication tools available for providers and their staff – from video conferencing to shared calendars to messaging platforms like Slack – that can help keep productivity on track while staying organized. The key is this: before another shut-down, onboard your employees and staff so they understand how to use their tools, and feel comfortable doing so in their own homes. It’s important that your employees have a workstation that is set up well and is distraction free.
Provide virtual care for your patients
We’ve talked before in this blog about how your patients want telehealth and how the AlignFlow™ patient app can help you deliver just that. This virtual care can be anything from live video to text, images, and patient education materials. As we’ve previously discussed, telehealth, when done correctly, can enhance and expand your practice. It can also be used as a hybrid approach to help cut down on the number of in-office visits and exposure risk of COVID for patients who have weakened immune systems or those who are wanting to take extra safety precautions.