Surviving Lockdowns: Managing patient flow and re-scheduling of appointments

The pandemic has disrupted the whole of Australia, and unfortunately, until vaccination rates are improved substantially, lockdowns are going to become the norm for a while longer. This, no doubt, can be absolutely frustrating for many dental practices as it can disrupt everything for your patients, your team and your business. 

Whenever lockdowns have been announced, one of the biggest challenges that most practices dread is managing and rescheduling both their patients and teams on such short notice. Without a systematic and strategic approach, it can get quite chaotic and stressful for the team. 

So here are a few steps that can help you stay on top of it.

Step 1: Verify the lockdown restrictions
Step 2: Review your appointment books and notify your patients
Step 3: Prioritise which patients to book in first

We know that rescheduling and managing patient appointments is never an easy task, let alone responding to disruptions that are out of your control. So, here are a few final tips and thoughts that you can consider when you have to respond to the disruptions caused by lockdowns. 

  • Pre-block your appointment books and have a priority waiting list that your team manages so that you can manage the influx of backlogged patients, emergency cases, and potentially new patients as well.

  • Be strategic about your hours of operation – Lockdowns affect everyone and some of your patients may not have the luxury to take time off work to come in for their appointments. If required, discuss with your team about potentially extending operating hours or days in the interim.
  • Time is money – To avoid potential FTAs and last minute cancellations, consider implementing a deposit fee.
  • Respond to your patients promptly – Ensure that your phone lines or emails are responded to promptly even when you are out of the practice.

  • Consider teledentistry as an intermediary solution for suitable patients / cases. 

We know that this is a tough time for everyone, and many of us are doing our best to cope and stay afloat. 

Having a pre-emptive plan of attack for when these disruptive times happen can help you and your team to stay one step ahead and reduce any further stresses that you do not need. Also, by managing disruptions effectively and proactively through practicing effective patient communication, you are also building yet another level of trust with your patients towards a long and lasting positive patient experience.

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