The day that dental offices can re-open for elective procedures seems to be inching closer as the government slowly reopens the economy.
Preventing the spread of COVID-19 has become our new normal and may never revert back. As such, dental offices need to implement new procedures to provide a safe environment for their staff and patients. Here are a few areas you should pay attention to before re-opening:
Office and Waiting Room
Even when dental offices can re-open, having patients congregate in the waiting room can be highly stressful for everyone. A better solution would be to ask patients to wait outside and be notified when it’s their turn. This process can be made more efficient by using My Contact Pro and 2-Way SMS to send the patient a message, which is much quicker than making a call.
No matter how many people come to the office, regularly sanitizing environment surfaces minimizes the risks of contamination. You can protect your reception staff by installing a clear plastic panel at the front desk to block the transmission of aerosols and droplets.
The office should also provide adequate sanitizers and wipes for patients to use when they enter the clinic.
As you start booking patients in for appointments when you re-open, they should also be pre-screened with questions to determine if they’re a risk to the office. These questions include, but aren’t limited to asking about:
- Their travel history in the last 14-days
- If they’ve presented any symptoms related to COVID-19
- If they’ve been in contact with anyone with or suspected to be positive for COVID-19
For more details on the screening process, you can click here.
Once you book the patient in, the screening process should be conducted again before they come to the office. This ensures that the patient is still safe to see. Any patients who have travelled outside of Canada in the last 14-days, have symptoms or have been in contact with someone suspected/positive for COVID-19 will need to be rescheduled.
Registration and Check-In Process
We recognize the need for paperless registrations conducted outside of the office and foresee it being the new normal for dental offices. As such, we are developing a Smart Forms module that allows offices to email forms for patients to fill in from home. This allows the office to receive all the information prior to the patient’s arrival and be better prepared for them.
In the meantime, digital forms, like our iForms module, that patients can fill out on tablets would be the next best option. The device is much easier to sanitize after each use compared to stacks of paper. Additionally, the information is automatically imported to the Paradigm database and made available on all computers connected to the server. This eliminates the need to pass a physical copy of the patient information around and mitigates the spread of COVID-19.
Personal Protective Equipment
Dental health-care personnel should be wearing PPE at all times while they are in a dental setting. This includes wearing a surgical mask, full-face shield, eye protection, gloves and gown. More details can be found here. Dental offices without proper PPE should not be scheduling patients for any appointments or performing any procedures on patients. Refer the patient to another clinic that has the correct PPE.
Offices must promptly clean and disinfect the room and equipment after each appointment following with the Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings. All personnel involved in the appointment must replace their PPE with a new set before seeing the next patient. Hand washing should also be frequent throughout the day to minimize the risk of contamination.
If possible, dentists can also consider using teledentistry for non-essential care.
Patient communication will play an even heavier role as we navigate this pandemic. Having regular communication with your active patients through newsletters will keep you connected.
Keeping patients updated with news from the office will give them peace of mind. It’s a good idea to send out emails letting patients know of the protocols you’ve adopted to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and maintain a safe environment.
An important aspect of preparing to re-open the dental clinic is to keep an open mindset as circumstances can change rapidly. This allows you to react swiftly and adapt new procedures quickly. We’ve also compiled a list of resources for you to reference and will keep it updated when new guidelines emerge.
If you would like to learn more about our software or how its paperless features would be beneficial to your office, contact us today!