(Q&A below video)

Interested in Part 3 of this Live Panel Series, with Dr. Charles Blair, with a focus on connecting with your patients through teledentistry? Of course you are.

Want to watch the replay of Part 1 of this Live Panel Series, featuring Dr. Roger Levin and David Forbess of Cain Watters & Associates? Of course you do.

Live Panel Q&A

All questions were asked in the Q&A window or the chat window. Some questions were edited or combined. Questions dealing with dental practice management were answered personally by Dr. Brett Wells, and the answers represent his professional opinions.

What were those free Facebook scheduling tools again?

Ryan Vet’s recommended Facebook scheduling tools are Buffer (primary) and Hootsuite.

Any recommendations on PPE, post-COVID? Will N95 masks be the new standard of care?

Brett Wells, DDS: I can't speak for all practices, but what we are doing is Head cap, Surgical masks over top of N95 (if you can get them) with face shield and disposable gown.

Looking at all the PPE we may be required to wear, how do you handle scheduling?

Brett Wells, DDS: I recommend increasing time for all appointments by 20-25% to allow time for proper disinfection of the operatory and screening of the patients.

Are you able to find PPE? If so, where?

Brett Wells, DDS: This is a tough question. The best advice I can offer is to check daily with your suppliers and other suppliers you don't normally work with. Also check with Amazon – you can be certified as a healthcare business and have access to PPE that others do not.

Do you recommend testing our staff for COVID-19 and announcing the results to patients to ease their minds?

Brett Wells, DDS: I think this is a great idea if you are able to source the tests. Currently dentists are not allowed to administer these point of care tests – however the ADA is lobbying on our behalf and we hope this changes soon.

What if we have several team members who aren't willing to come into the office?

Brett Wells, DDS: This is unfortunate. I think during this time it's important to be mindful of the concerns of our teams. There is a lot of misinformation out there about the risks of this virus. I would reach out to them individually to see what they aren't comfortable about, and see if you can mitigate those concerns. If you're paying them to be there and they are refusing then this is something you should consider discontinuing. I would also remind your team that while our operations are severely reduced that doesn't mean we cannot accomplish tasks to improve our business when we return.

Seems like universal pre-paying for appointments would make sense to reduce potential virus transmission, and probably reduce no-shows...what do you think?

Brett Wells, DDS: This is a great idea and a great way to mitigate the risks of infection of your front desk. If you are able to implement this I would recommend it. There are several companies that sell barriers you can put at checkout. You can also mount a credit card terminal outside of the barrier to reduce the physical interactions during payment.

What are your thoughts on having patients stay in the car until it is time to go back for treatment...basically skipping the waiting room? Also, how do we handle multiple patients checking out at the same time?

Brett Wells, DDS: I recommend closing your reception area, meeting patients at the door or at their car and walking them directly to the operatory. I also recommend you have a good plan in place where your clinical team does not bring a patient to checkout if there is already someone there. They should wait in the operatory.

Do you recommend our front desk personally call to confirm each patient instead of automated confirmations?

Let’s just say it can’t hurt. As the panelists mentioned, we’ve all been bombarded with messages about “in this difficult time, blah blah blah”; plus, this has been a time where personal connections have been at a premium. Reaching out personally to your patients, especially in the month or so after you open, shows them that you care about them. It shows a personal touch, which we all could use more of right now.

Also, it will give your patients an opportunity to express any concerns about visiting your office – and more importantly, it will give your front desk an opportunity to allay those concerns by telling them about all the new procedures you have in place. It will ease their mind, and make them more likely to keep that appointment.

How much is too much? At some level, aren't we overdoing these precautions and playing into unfounded fear? What is the balance?

Not so sure the fear is unfounded – after all, there are over 800,000 cases confirmed in the US (as of 4/22/20) – but your question is certainly valid. The balance? That’s something we’ll all need to figure out as we open back up. Some patients may demand certain additional precautions from their dental office and will leave your practice if those precautions are not taken. Some may be convinced that everything is OK and will return to you as before. It’s hard to say.

What about the second wave of Coronavirus coming in Fall?

We don’t know for sure what this virus is going to do nor whether or not there will be a “second wave.” Hopefully, the precautions we all are taking now will help prevent additional waves. What we do know, however, is that we as a profession will be better prepared to handle it, if it does come back. We’ll have better procedures in place, both from a protection standpoint and from a patient messaging standpoint.

How much notice do you think we will realistically get from our states before opening? 

Hard to tell, and it will likely vary per state. The Federal guidelines to enter Phase One – when dentists will be able to return to work for elective care – is a 14-day reduction in cases. Take a look at your state's case numbers to see the trends.

What do you thing about relaxing schedules once we're open? Patients may not want or may not be able to leave work – they may need some evening hours or even Saturdays.

Brett Wells, DDS: I think evening and Saturday hours are a phenomenal practice-builder regardless of this crisis. If you hear a lot of your patients asking for this then I would strongly consider. Also our teams are likely willing to work additional hours.

Why not start back at full capacity if the demand is there?

Brett Wells, DDS: Sure – however, understand there should be many new protocols in place in terms of infection control and screening that will likely require extra time. I would recommend extending your hours to allow for 20-25% of additional time per appointment.

If an employee is furloughed and our office pays benefits for the employee, but the employee owes for children or a spouse on a group plan, what is the best way to handle this? Do we collect pack pay from the employee when we start back?

Brett Wells, DDS: There are many ways to do this. The two most common if you are continuing to pay the benefit are: 

1) to have the employee pay you at the beginning of each month for their family’s portion of their health insurance premiums, and

2) you can collect back payments when your team returns to work

We will be using funds from a PPP loan to pay employees for 8 weeks. How would you handle an employee who does not want to work (or feels uncomfortable being in the office) during the 8-week period despite earning full pay?

Brett Wells, DDS: I think this should be evaluated on a case by case basis. As dentists we are better trained for infection control than nearly any medical profession as we are always high risk. If your employee is concerned working during this crisis due to fear of catching this virus then dentistry likely isn't the best profession for them. If they are high risk based on the CDC guidelines then you should take that into account and have a conversation with them about their concerns. However, if they are choosing not to return to work due the increased UE benefits available then I would recommend parting ways with this employee as they are likely not in line with your long term goals and vision for your practice.

Can you tell us more about this Membership Plan concept?

Absolutely. We (DentalHQ) are the membership plan experts. In an in-house membership plan, patients pay a monthly or annual fee directly to their dentist. The dentist then offers certain member benefits: generally, a preventative care schedule – two exams, two cleanings, one X-ray, for example – plus a discount on additional work. The member benefits and the pricing are completely up to the dentist.

This maintains a direct relationship between patient and dentist and eliminates any insurance middleman to influence treatment or payment. We generally recommend membership plans to keep uninsured patients in your chairs every six months, but we’ve also found that it’s often less expensive for the patient than self-paid insurance.

While an office could absolutely implement a plan on their own (Dr. Wells started his own 9 years ago), it becomes cumbersome the more successful you are with it. That’s where we come in. Our platform allows for easy creation and management of membership plans for your practice.

How do you recommend setting up a Membership Plan at our office? What should my price points be?

When you enroll your practice with DentalHQ, the first thing we recommend is a comprehensive personal onboarding session with one of our Client Success team members. During this session, we’ll go over how to set up and price your plans. Generally, you enter prices for 11 UCR codes (prophy, bitewings, etc.), and our algorithm generates recommended monthly and annual fees. You’re free to use that, or not. It’s up to you. We’re happy to talk to you further about setup and pricing if you’d like – just reach out!

What is the best way to handle our Membership Plan for this paused time?

If you’re talking about how to handle your current Members on your existing plan who have had their prophy appointments cancelled/rescheduled, we recommend working out a revised compressed schedule where their next two prophys are closer together so that by the first one of 2021, they’re back on track. This way, they’re still getting their membership benefits.

If we have an in-house dental saving plan and we capped because we didn't want to have too many patients on it, would you suggest this is the time to open it back up?

We can’t really speak to in-house savings plans...that’s not our game. We’re an in-house membership plan platform.

The main difference between a savings plan and a membership plan is connection. In a savings plan, the patient is essentially buying a discount. That can work in some instances, but it doesn’t create or strengthen the connection between you and your patient. In a membership plan, the patient pays you directly to be a Member. They’re special. They’re a member of your practice and your practice only. That’s powerful.

In a membership plan, the more members you have, the better – you never want to cap members

Have you gotten (or do you think you might get) questions from patients about their membership plan payments? What if they aren't able to get their specified number of cleanings...will their payments be pro-rated?

A handful of our partner offices have reached out about suspending payments for a month or so, but in many cases the members have received services in 2020, and may continue relatively on schedule (mostly your 6-mo recalls). In any event, waiving payments is up to you, and we can easily accommodate.

As mentioned above, we recommend working out a revised compressed schedule where their next 2-3 cleanings are closer together so that they’re back on track sooner than later. This way, they’re still getting their membership benefits.

Which membership plans are the best to look into?

Well, we’re just a bit biased, but we think that DentalHQ is by far the best membership plan platform out there. It was created from the mind of a dentist (Dr. Brett Wells) to meet the specific needs of dentists. Schedule a demo with us, and we’ll be happy to show you around.

Very informative webinar – thank you. Do you have another one in the future regarding HR?

Thank YOU for watching! This was Part 2 in the HAVE A PLAN series – Part 1 touched on HR issues relating to unemployment, loans, and financial issues, as well as overall practice strategy. You can find the replay here. If you have any other ideas for future webinars, please send a note to