Reassuring patients that it's safe to come back to the office

By: Lynn Liu

At no time in recent memory has patient communication & engagement been more important for business success.

As restrictions are lifted, offices need to look towards returning to full efficiency and re-booking appointments as quickly as possible. However, patients won’t be rushing in just because the restrictions are lessened - many will hesitate to come in for appointments unless it's absolutely necessary to do so.
Patients are wondering: what new precautions are offices taking to prevent the further spread of COVID-19?
That is why it is incredibly important to reassure patients that your office is going above and beyond to provide a safe and comfortable environment. Here are our recommendations on how to get patients comfortable with the idea of coming for in-person visits again.

Reassuring Written Communications

In these unsettling times, purposeful communications with patients will help build trust and confidence. Patients want to know what to expect before setting foot in your office. Without adequate communication, patients harbouring a sense of worry and fear may try to put off coming in for appointments for as long as possible. Communicate actively to patients about how your office is mitigating the risk of Covid-19. Familiarizing your patients with your office’s new procedures will also help run their appointments smoothly, once they step through the door.

At UpOnline Dental Marketing, we are helping our clients create and manage newsletters and e-blasts, to help dental offices communicate the required information effectively with their patients. Click here to learn more.

Active social media

Social media remains one of the most effective means of communication, especially among the millennial and gen-z population. While email is effective for formal and longer communications, social media is also an invaluable tool for sharing brief messages. Thus, it’s just as important to use your social media channels, to inform and console your patients during this period of time.

At present, many people are eager to return to their regular routines and commitments, albeit with stronger precautions. Thus, they’ll welcome updates about how your office is working to get back into action. Through posts on social media, you can share bite-sized pieces of information to reduce your patients’ anxieties.

Social media posts must be both engaging and meaningful. Some topics to consider are:
  • Updates about reopening the office
  • Ways to stay safe
  • Specific measures taken by the office
  • Stay-at-home activities and DIY healthcare routines
  • Promoting public goodwill and charitable acts
  • Generally comforting messages of support
Utilize call-to-action language that encourages your audience to visit your main site to find more information about your clinic, update, review your available services, and even make a booking for the near future.

An organized and up-to-date social media presence shows that your office is managing well under these hectic times. Even if you can’t physically see your patients, maintaining your social accounts will help keep your business fresh in your patients’ minds.

UpOnline Dental Marketing, offers custom COVID-19 social media posts as part of our reopening plan for our clients, to help them reach out to their patients on all platforms. Click here to learn more.

Before your patients come in for appointments

Employers and patients alike are responsible for taking the necessary precautions for disease prevention. Pre-screening questionnaires are an effective way for patients to self-declare their health before coming in for an appointment. These questionnaires should be sent prior to the patient’s appointment to check for any of the symptoms for coronavirus.

At UpOnline Dental Marketing, we are offering custom questionnaires for all our clients, embedded on their website, for patients to fill in before they come in. Learn more about our plan to assist dentists in their reopening efforts.

Following Dental College Guidelines for In-Person Appointments

As for in-person appointments, offices should adhere to their province’s respective dental college’s “Return to Practice” guidelines. Not only would this be one of the best ways to prevent the spread of disease, patients will also appreciate the fact that your clinic is strictly following public health recommendations.

How close are you to paperless?

If sharing clipboards, pens, and paper suddenly seems less appetizing than it used to, take this opportunity to consider going the last mile and asking (new) patents to fill-in forms digitally and send them back to the office securely.

We are offering multiple options for our clients to go paperless when it comes to filling out forms. Learn more here.

Walk them through the experience

If you can paint a picture for your patients for how their visit would look like, you can help relieve anxieties related to their visit. They would love to know:
  • If you have reconfigured your waiting area to accommodate for physical distancing?
  • Are you considering removing waiting room magazines and often shared kids toys?
  • Are there any extra cleaning measures?
  • Will there be additional sanitizers made available?
  • Are you adding plexi-barriers at your fronts desk?
  • Do you want to offer virtual consults for treatment planning?
These adjustments and more will go a long way to help reduce questions during re-booking, thus making the process more efficient for your front-desk staff. Communicate these changes on your website, through emails, and on social media!

Virtual follow-up / Treatment Coordination

Many parts of the treatment case planning could be done virtually. Patients may appreciate not having to visit the office at this time unless it is essential. The use of screen sharing via video call will likely increase greatly as part of new post COVID-19 operations.

Final Thoughts

It will take some time for appointment numbers to get back up to normal, but your early actions can offer peace-of-mind and help build lasting trust among your patients. Your dedication to patients’ comfort and safety during this unstable period will be remembered in the years to come. If you need help with patient communication during your reopening process, speak to a client representative at UpOnline Dental Marketing to learn more about ways we can assist you in your reopening efforts.