The straight and narrow – planning for winter

straight and narrow COVID-19With predictions of a second COVID-19 wave, Emma Laing explains how she’s preparing and prioritising her orthodontic treatments.

All hands on deck

For me, July was a period of adaptation to this new way of work.

Dealing with patients’ pressing concerns and treatment after the pandemic took precedence. I was immersed in protocols and procedures. Everything was about ensuring that each day ran smoothly, with the pre-appointment checks, the safety precautions at the appointment and ensuring fallow time was followed.

Every member of the team was conscious to implement a change in their role. Notably, team collaboration improved, with an atmosphere in the practice of togetherness that often follows a team social event.

August has been far from a quiet holiday month. Many patients have waited a long time to start their treatment.

There have been touches of a ‘now or never’ attitude. Together with three to four months of spending less. Patients are now massively motivated to start treatment.

There is a prestige car dealership near to us which said in July it sold 80 cars. The most business it has ever done. The management’s opinion is that their clients felt after the COVID-19 period: ‘What are we waiting for?’

Reevaluation of workflow

Now familiar with our new way of work I have managed to breathe and reflect on what has happened since we’ve come back to work. Before crucially planning for this winter.

I have streamlined how I work now, looking for future efficiencies.

Who else had a home clear-out during the pandemic period? This month I felt it was time to do this with my orthodontic practice both physically and mentally.

Gone are the reams of leaflets, impression trays. Now I’m fully digital. And gone is the stock I have but know I’ll never use. Just like clothes purchases bought on a whim, I’ve bought stock in the same way.

If you think about what you use daily you do not need all this clutter. New mobile drawer units are in, so I can switch to a different surgery as needed. Just moving stock into these made me throw a lot out. It is mentally satisfying to declutter and streamline workflow.

New stock is in, and I am finding suppliers, like DB Orthodontics, are understanding and empathetic to the challenges we face. Along with the need for cost savings. I’ve just sent my Ixion cutters to DB for sharpening, rather than replacing.

I’ve looked at time efficiencies for the team, and also whether we can make efficiencies by moving to emails only.

I note some clinics now solely book online with email correspondence only. This doesn’t sit too well with me in our service industry. But I can see the rationale.

Future uncertainties

I appreciate the old adage ‘make hay whilst the sun shines’. But where will we be in the more bleak three to six months from now?

COVID-19 levels are rising. The vaccine is not ready yet.

The pandemic period was catastrophic for dentistry and sadly therefore for many private practices. The next 12 months have equal uncertainty for running a business.

We don’t know what is to come. Perhaps local lockdowns. I’m sure whatever happens it will affect London, where I am. We have to be ready.

Individual patient issues need pre-planning and managing. The business needs to continue and safety has to stay paramount.

Most new orthodontic patients now ask me which treatment they should choose in the event of another lockdown. They want their appliances fitted as soon as I can so that it is well underway, in the event of future restrictions.

We’re planning orthognathic surgeries for October, whilst we can.

Despite the rush of clients at the moment, I fear the effects of the end of the furlough period on UK businesses will change this. The spontaneity of proceeding with treatment that I am experiencing now will switch to reticence to start.

The most I can do is prepare for these eventualities and also take practical steps to plan for the autumn and winter.

Follow on Instagram to keep up with all the latest dental news and trends.

Get the most out of your membership by subscribing to Dentistry CPD
  • Access 600+ hours of verified CPD courses
  • Includes all GDC recommended topics
  • Powerful CPD tracking tools included
Register for webinar
Add to calendar