According to our survey results, the largest impact of the pandemic on dental practices in Canada has been the drop in revenue. However, it has been proven that dentistry is an essential service and practices have been able to remain open throughout the rest of the pandemic despite additional lockdowns across the country.
Despite the many hurdles you have had to face, we explored the potential opportunities that have emerged during the last year. Learning new skills such as PPE management, IPAC protocols and better practice management are a few. Also, the introduction of teledentistry has added a whole new way of communicating with patients.
More than 90% of dentists found the CEWS to be helpful because it preserved goodwill, was timely, was flexible and had longevity. CEWS was an incentive for staff to return to work amidst the labour shortage. It gave practices a boost when they needed it, during the initial months of reopening. The eligibility requirements were flexible, and the program was extended to further aid businesses.
When we asked dentists what their biggest positive takeaway was, time spent with family and living life at a slower pace was the number one result. These results are a testament to how difficult it can be to achieve a satisfactory work-life balance for those in the dental profession. Remember how it felt to be able to slow down and spend quality time with loved ones. Take breaks when you need to as they will allow you to come back to work with renewed energy.
The office manual (or HR manual) is an extremely important practice management tool for you as a practice owner. These manuals should include all the policies and procedures in place at your office and be accessible to the entire team. Considering dentists voted practice management as their top cause of stress, having an office manual to guide you on how to handle HR situations is a significant source of support.
Four months after reopening, staff concerns went down by 34% and patient concern decreased by 19%. This was possible due to enhanced PPE, abiding by regulations, keeping staff up to date, controlling traffic flow and added disinfection. Continuing to follow these practices will ensure your staff and patients continue to feel secure coming to the office.
Teledentistry benefitted the dental industry by providing an excellent way to provide care, such as diagnoses, education and treatment planning, while following social distancing guidelines. A few reasons to keep them are to help build trusting relationships with patients or provide immediate assistance to any long-distance or emergency patients.
The pandemic has given the dental industry an opportunity to discuss the importance of mental health. Ensure you are keeping a healthy work-life balance by booking occasional time off for yourself and encouraging team members to do the same. Participate in hobbies outside of work to destress and have a wellness plan in place at your practice.
While the telephone remains the most popular way for dental offices to communicate, the number of platforms to reach patients has grown. Each platform has its own pros and cons that must be considered when deciding what is right for your practice and the patients you are trying to reach. Consider your patient demographic and, if in doubt, ask your patients what their preferred method is when being contacted.
While some Government subsidies were well received, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) was not. Many dentists did not qualify, rebate was not significant, and the benefit was not available during the time of need for dentists, which were the initial months of the pandemic.
As seen in the print issue of Oral Health December 2021