Be flexible, be prepared

29 January 2021
3 min read
Published:

Steve Brown explains how you can prepare your business for the future.

If the past 12 months have taught us anything, it’s the value of being able to adapt. For individuals and businesses alike, new regulations, guidelines and safety precautions have required massive changes to daily life. We have all had to adjust in some way, whether that’s involved implementing additional measures or avoiding some activities we used to do often. In dentistry, practices that could adapt most easily were those that already employed systems, protocols and teams that could be flexible.

So, what can you do in the practice today to better prepare the business, the professional team and your patients for any further changes that may be required in the future?

Stay up-to-date
First and foremost, it is crucial to remain as up-to-date with the latest news relevant to you as possible. This includes being aware of any new restrictions or guidelines being discussed that might affect your business or your patients. Similarly, it is essential to remain abreast of industry updates to ensure that you know what is expected of you from the regulators and professional bodies, as well as how you can support your team. This will also help you to update your own practice policies to reflect the latest guidelines, giving your team and patients peace of mind.

With this in mind, continuous team training is a must. In any situation, on-going professional development is crucial to ensure that clinicians deliver the highest standard of evidence-based dentistry to all of their patients. In today’s climate, it is even more important for teams to understand exactly why they do what they do and how the care they provide may need to change to comply with new government recommendations. Where all members of the dental team are confident in their abilities and the regulations they are working within, they will be far more agile and able to adopt new processes as and when necessary over time.

Roles and responsibilities
To further encourage a smooth transition into new protocols, it is vital that all professionals within the practice appreciate their roles and responsibilities. These should be outlined clearly, indicating how duties could be adjusted in certain situations. For example, staff need to know what to do in the event that a patient presents with potential COVID-19 symptoms. Everyone needs to know who to tell and what immediate protocols they should follow.

It can also be advantageous for the business if colleagues are assigned specific tasks to manage over the long-term. Marketing activities, social media accounts and responding to patient enquiries will have become more important than ever, each likely requiring closer monitoring and more attention than they did pre-pandemic. If certain individuals have allocated time to check these and work on them, it takes some of the pressure off the principal and enhances the patient service. It also means that changes to any part of the practice can be implemented swiftly and efficiently – if everyone knows what areas they focus on ahead of time, this can also prevent confusion and stop any errors from being made.

Equipment
Aside from practice management processes, changes may also be required to the clinical treatment being offered to patients. In the past few months, we have seen many practices avoid AGPs by providing less invasive dental treatment and using more hand-operated equipment. This has now reversed in many situations, as enhanced PPE and other safety measures have reduced the recommended fallow time following such procedures.

In order to remain flexible for the future, it is important that practices employ versatile materials and equipment. Digital solutions have become exponentially more popular, with the speed, efficiency and cross contamination benefits afforded driving a high number of practices to invest in new technologies. This is also an effective way of future-proofing the business. With time, digital dentistry will become the gold standard that both professionals and patients expect from the dental practice. By at least starting on the journey now, dental clinics will be better prepared for a digital future.

Another option is to consider plug and play portable dental equipment. Epitomising what it means to be versatile are the BPR Swiss portable dental units, available from J&S Davis. The range of equipment includes clinical carts that can be customised with various handpieces and functionalities, meeting all of your needs. You can use them between surgeries, between practices, to deliver domiciliary care, to visit care homes, or as a high quality back up in case your fixed units break down.

Be ready 
We still face a difficult time in UK dentistry, but practices can make future life that little bit easier by being prepared for anything. This means putting flexible systems, teams and technologies in place that will enable fast and efficient changes to be implemented whenever they are required.