By all accounts 2020 has been the year of COVID-19; sparking a global fear of catching the virus, with an ensuing wave of government-ordered economic shutdowns across most industries. These safety measures were primarily aimed at reducing the spread of the disease. However, it became increasingly clear that a lengthy global economic shut down comes at an enormous cost to many other important aspects of the health and wellbeing of our society.
At the onset of the first shutdown, our dental healthcare profession was deemed a non-essential public service; with the exception of emergency care. Which meant that members of society had to be in physical hardship or urgent medical risk to earn the right to be seen. Most practices shut down completely, while others stayed open with skeleton teams to support the reduced patient flow. Where they could; many employers leaned on government subsidies to help offset their significant reductions in cashflow and in their employee’s loss of income, and collectively; everyone was extremely uncertain about reopening in the so called “new normal”.
Three months later, due to a community spirit of shared sacrifices, we began to flatten the curve, which enabled the gradual resumption of dental services. Colleges immediately began to release broad regulations aimed at guiding its members towards safely re-opening their practices. These important restrictions came as a further financial burden to practice owners, requiring investments in our physical facilities, additional protective attire, new air flow standards and space barriers as well as reducing the volume of patient flow we were able to see safely in a day.
Now, with 2021 upon us, we find ourselves in the midst of a second wave of economic shutdowns and even more public health uncertainty. Many industry leaders and experts in our profession are worrying about how social priorities for dentistry might be impacted if our patients permanently lose their jobs or if their businesses close due to being unable to bounce back from the repercussion of a second shutdown. One thing is for certain; as government subsidies diminish; thriving as a practice in the “new normal” will be more fragile and based on our patients’ perceived priorities that influence their discretionary spending habits. Dentistry’s success in the immediate future will be based on the overall consumer consumption of dental healthcare services in each practice. Each office’s economic viability will be tied to the number of dental visits and to the amount and type of services being provided, and most importantly “inspired” during those visits.
History has shown us time and time again that when significant events occur that impact our world on a broad scale, society has always persevered and recovered. The question is: where will your practice chose to be on the recovery scale? Will you be proactive or reactive? Will you be an innovator? Will you seek out new opportunities by pivoting and shifting? Or will you be one of the unhappy resistors that experiences an unexpected decline while holding on to old habits that no longer work while simultaneously continuing to complain & reminisce about the good old days? The path you take will be based on the mindset with which you choose to see the world going forward.
Each dental team has an opportunity to rise up and lead through confusion. Change is accelerating, uncertainty is inevitable, and disruption is commonplace. We must learn to dance creatively with disruption. We must learn to thrive in a world that is filled with massive change.
Today’s patients are also evolving. They are consumers as well. Consumers are people who buy. It’s not whether they buy; it’s what they choose to buy. They often arrive more informed (sometimes misinformed) and generally wanting to be more involved in decisions regarding their care. “Take two of these and call me in the morning; trust me I’m a doctor” simply no longer works. Today’s patients will be motivated most by being equal partners in their healthcare. The question now becomes: How do we grow our practice to connect more deeply and more inspiringly in this new social climate? What can we do to strategically attract patient flow into a refreshed energized and safe healthcare relationship with our practice? We must become even more effective as a group at creating value and desire for dental healthcare services.
Your team’s central goal should be to turn satisfied customers into deeply appreciative and highly fulfilled, raving fans that value the full impact of everything you can do for them. Patients must have a highly stimulating collective experience each time they visit your office – one that makes them want to tell everyone about you while wanting you to provide them with all the opportunities modern dentistry has available for their specific situation. This will occur by coming closer together as a team to function under the vision of a deeper underlying purpose that ignites chemistry and synergy. A strong, purpose-driven team will deliver unique, impactful patient experiences that grow stronger patient bonds and stimulate higher patient engagement. When we help our patients to make healthcare a priority in their lives, we actually become worth more to our customers than our core products or services. That’s because “true value” is the quality of life benefits your patients will experience long after they have forgotten that you placed a dental procedure in their mouths.
COVID-19 has definitely made us a more compassionate and people-centred society. There is a strange bonding force that comes from facing adversity together. Each practice now has an opportunity to make their team stronger, more resilient and more effective. We must strive to be outstanding by remembering that you don’t grow a business, you grow the people within your business then together you can take your business anywhere. There are three types of practices in this world. Those that make thing happen. Those that watch things happen and those that wonder what happened. Which will you choose to be in 2021?
10 tips for Rising & Thriving in 2021
- Join the global mindfulness movement by focusing fully on what you are doing, who you are doing it with, why you are doing it, and by being fully immersed in all the emotions involved with that activity.
- Develop your practices likeability factor by being more relational and less transactional. Always focus on serving the heart of the patients attached to the teeth.
- Spend time speaking with patients at the beginning and end of each appointment to explain the care being provided and to celebrate the results of the solution that was delivered. Always plant seeds about what they can expect from their mouths/health in the future and discuss all the opportunities modern dentistry has available to them.
- Routinely communicate the bi-directional relationship between the health of their mouth and the health of their body and overall quality of life; as well as the importance of treating chronic low-grade inflammation in the mouth.
- Grow your unique brand by being a fully aligned team during each patient care experience. Deliver memorable, enjoyable, inspiring, educational, and caring experiences. Each appointment is an event. Collectively we are an orchestra playing one song that the patient enjoys as a result of our combined individual efforts.
- Grow your team by adequately training empowering and releasing people into their unique strengths and abilities. Avoid creativity stifling micromanaging behaviors.
- Involve your entire team in the planning and running of daily operations with well-planned regular full team meetings. Tap into the collective wisdom of your entire team. Ensure each meeting ends with a clear action plan for fully implementing new initiatives as well as a follow-up plan for assessing and enhancing progress.
- Strengthen the overall patient experience by coordinating the various touchpoints into a smooth overall patient flow. Each patient is a ball that we collectively share in serving based on our unique roles and responsibilities. Never drop the ball!
- Take more non-clinical team development course. Keep in mind that only 15% of your success comes from your clinical skills and technical knowledge. The other 85% comes from your ability to deal with and collaborate with people. Develop those skills to grow your championship team.
- Take time to set clear goals for growth in 2021. Just like “treatment planning” Practice planning and goal setting are an important first step to achieving the results you desire and deserve over the next 12 months.
About the Author
Peter Barry C.M.C., R.R.D.H., Peter is a highly sought-after Transformational Trainer. For more than 18 years, he has empowered dental teams & dental Industry experts to achieve extraordinary growth, higher income, and exceptional quality of life. He is the founder of “Practice Mastery” a practice and team development company that serves the growth & development needs of your practice. He provides customized team and one-on-one “Success Coaching” to Dental professionals across N. America. He can be reached at @peterbarrycoach email@example.com 416-568-5456 www.practicemastery.com