30 MarCoVid19 – How to Restart your Dental Practice
The Covid-19 narrative is changing at every level. Thoughts are shifting away from fear and for many, an overwhelming torrent of information and misinformation. The news that we consume can have such a profound impact upon our thoughts, actions and well being. There is even going to be a Government campaign from next week, driven by The Culture Secretary, to identify and remove false narratives.
Earlier today I looked back at a video I made for Dentinal Tubules. It seems like a life time ago, but it was only 13 days. The video didn’t make the cut. In the course of a 4 minute video I had used the word ‘opportunity’ 17 times and I decided that at the time it could have seemed insensitive.
I am an idealist and idealists are occasionally accused of being Pollyannas, but I had allowed fear to override my gut feeling. I shouldn’t have pulled the video. Covid-19 was, is and will remain an opportunity. My own narrative has shifted and every dental practice and the patients that they serve, has an opportunity to do the same.
Prior to Covid-19 there had been a groundswell of opinion recognising the increasing importance for businesses to have a ‘social license’, that is, the need for businesses to do more for the communities that they serve other than make money from providing their goods and services.
Post Covid-19 and as businesses begin to restart, they will need to recognise the legacy of Covid-19, the market conditions that were precedent prior to it and how it will change the behaviours of businesses, communities and families forever.
During Covid-19 we are seeing an acceleration of the need for businesses to have a social license, because of the many acts of social and community kindness, appreciation and togetherness that we are witnessing. One of the legacies of Covid-19, even at this stage, is that it has reminded us of The Common Ground we share, the things that are most important to us all. This is the narrative and this is also the opportunity.
Covid-19 has reminded us all of three very important aspects of The Common Ground. They are not new, they were always there but they are just more visible now than before. Sat right in front of us all along have been the things that are really important to us all;
- The Community our dental practices serve
- The Environment that our dental practices share
- The Health benefits that our dental practices can provide
At some point the restrictions on our travel, and our ability to earn money and socialise will be removed. There will be a time when dental practices return to delivering some kind of normal or revised normal service. This will be at a time when the economy begins to restart. This will create a rush of activity within dental practices. Recalls will need to be caught up on, non emergencies will become emergencies once more and there won’t be a gap in a dentists book for months. Demand will outstrip supply and the public will become frustrated, unaware that routine dentistry through UDA’s or private appointments alone was for many dental practices, struggling to pay the bills already, and that was way before a raft of new regulations and procedures were introduced to prevent a resurgent Covid-19.
At the same time, everybody will be looking at the money in their pockets and taking a second look at their bank balance before they spend it. But there will still be a rush of holiday bookings and hair appointments and elective spending across society, and elective dental treatments.
But there is a problem. What if the public perception of dentistry doesn’t shift?
The memes, the prejudices, the anxieties and the fears of those that don’t or won’t attend the dentist regularly could remain because everybody got so busy being busy again that The Common Ground and the things that are really important to all of us got forgotten about. And because everybody will be looking at the money in their pockets and taking a second look at their bank balance before they spend it, patients will be even more sceptical about proceeding with the treatment proposed by their dentist, particularly when they think their dentist has been paid to sit at home for the past few months. If the public perception and the narrative has not shifted, then we will still witness a profession that chases new patients and will have record levels of unbooked open treatment plans and yet at the same time adults and children will continue to have preventable disease in their mouths and millions of people still won’t regularly attend the dentist.
That could be the narrative but it is also the opportunity.
The most likely way that businesses and including dental practices will restart successfully is through what they do during Covid-19. Dental practices that look in the same direction as their communities now, that explore together The Common Ground now, that change the narrative about dentistry now, will emerge stronger from Covid-19.
This is why we will be launching a new initiative in partnership with Dentinal Tubules, that will provide any dental practice with the resources and support that it needs to change the public narrative about dentistry, a narrative that will change the perception of those that are not served by the profession, that don’t or won’t regularly attend the dentist.
In the meantime, there is nothing stopping anybody from doing any of this themselves and of course many dental practices are. Now is the time to restart your dental practice. Now is the time to create the new dental narrative.