*** Special Edition ***
Every week we answer individual questions from offices, but the below answer is a result of multiple offices asking about what a re-open looks like at the front office.
Things will not be “typical” in the dental office when we ‘re-open’ our doors to patients. What we used to do will no longer be acceptable in order to keep patients, ourselves and the practice healthy and thriving. A lot of focus is being placed on the changes taking place in the clinical areas of the practice, but what about the Front Desk? Everyone in the office will be making adjustments and that includes the people who take care of patients on the phone and when they arrive for their appointments.
I am making suggestions based on my opinions and what is being widely discussed in the dental community. You should refer to your state laws, ADA regulations, CDC recommendations and OSHA requirements when making final decisions.
The front desk team is going to have to make the biggest number of adjustments. I will address ideas for safety precautions later; there are so many other factors to consider. The front desk team will need to:
- Handle patient questions and concerns
- Empathize with patients and alleviate fears they may have
- Pre-screen patients
- Schedule to suit the new needs of the clinical team
- Create and maintain a ‘safe space’ in the front desk area
Your front desk team needs to be ready to respond to patient questions like; What type of sterilization are you using? How do we know we will be safe? Will my appointment take longer than usual? Working on honest and concise answers to these questions BEFORE you open your doors will be necessary. They will also need to be prepared to deal with fear and uncertainty and find ways to comfort and assure patients that your office is “safe” for them to visit.
The front desk team will most likely be pre-screening patients. Have you created a form to use so they can easily collect the appropriate information? With all that will change, having as many systems in place as possible will help transition to this new way of running the office. Some systems to update/create:
- How to pre-screen patients – form/list of questions
- Handling new patient calls
- Scheduling – hygiene and doctor
- Confirming appointments
- Handling cancellations and no shows
- Maintenance for front desk/reception area
The last bullet on the list leads us to the safety aspect of the front desk team and the front desk area of the practice. You must create a protocol that is going to be safe and comfortable for everyone. Your dental reps will be a good resource for solutions.
This new normal will be a work in progress. We need to practice patience and understanding as everyone takes steps to stay healthy and safe, and we need to work together to create a positive environment for all involved.
This post was written by Missy Pollard, our Phone and Scheduling Coach.