What If It’s NOT All Covid’s Fault?

by Shawn Peers, DentalPeers

Have you sat down with your accountant yet to review your 2020 financial statements?

Now is the time of year many of you are doing just that! And let’s face it…looking at those numbers after a year of Covid is not likely to help chase away the February Blues…even as we move into March!

Some of you may be thinking, why bother looking? Why waste time comparing our numbers in 2020 to what we achieved in 2019? After all, how can you compare life in a regular year to life in a pandemic?

Fair point!

Still, I have a question for you. What if it is not all Covid’s fault? 

While all dentists felt the pain of the lockdown, some recovered quicker than others. When the time came for offices to re-open, some offices hit the ground running while others needed more time to figure out their next move.

Yes, external factors, such as PPE shortages (and the ensuing price increases), continued to impact the entire profession. Still, after the lockdown, I heard of some offices experiencing their best July ever while others were down as much as 40 percent over the previous July.

Can that discrepancy be explained away by Covid?

I don’t believe it can. That is why I do believe you should look closely at your production in 2020. And if your office did not experience a strong recovery in the months after you re-opened, you need to drill deeper into your data to analyze why that is the case.

The truth is, as painful as the pandemic has been and continues to be for some, it has also provided us with an incredible opportunity. Challenging times tend to show the differences between strong, well organized businesses and those that have more room for improvement. 

The strong practices bounced back quickly. They continued to hold virtual team meetings while in lockdown. Those meetings were used to assess where they were vulnerable and what they needed to do to improve themselves.

All team members were provided an opportunity to be heard. More importantly, they were provided the opportunity to be part of the solution. They used all of the technology at their fingertips to ensure no patient slipped through the cracks. Patients in need of treatment that had been delayed due to the lockdown were contacted and usually scheduled for treatment.

Many patients were thrilled to reschedule. Others were nervous about visiting the dentist while the pandemic still seemed to be going strong. So, those teams discussed their successes and their failures and devised scripts and approaches to assure patients they would be safe…as we knew dental offices to be!

Many of these dentists found they had more time to spend with their patients to explain treatment options to them. When these dentists analyzed their case acceptance numbers, they found they had improved with the pandemic.

So, have you looked into your case acceptance rate for 2020? Is it where you want it to be or do you see potential for improvement there?

This is where we see the distinction. Those offices with record months in July tracked the patients who needed treatment…they tracked the patients who seemed reluctant to return to the dentist and came up with a truthful and reassuring way to communicate with them. They tracked their case acceptance and modified their approach to best use the additional time they had with patients.

Yes, we can all expect our overall production to be down from 2019 courtesy of Covid. However, those production numbers are merely the first layer of the onion. You need to peel away to truly find the analytics that drive your practice success. Then, you need to recognize that if those numbers are not where you would like them to be, they may be a call to action to start down the path of improvement.

The practices that did this are the ones that tended to have a stronger bounce back. They understood top level production numbers only tell part of the story, that the true drivers of success were the numbers that fed into production. And that even in the midst of a pandemic, analyzing those numbers remained a valuable exercise!

They are the ones that asked…what if it is not all Covid’s fault?

About the Author

Shawn Peers is the President of DentalPeers. DentalPeers is one of Canada’s oldest, continuous operating buying groups exclusively for dentists.