It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic was detrimental to business owners worldwide. And dental practices were no exception.
State and federal agencies quickly recommended postponing elective dental procedures in the spring of 2020. With only emergency dental procedures taking place, dental practices saw a hit to revenue that was unrivaled in recent history.
According to the American Dental Association, 1 in 3 dentists needs additional staff to see the “same number of patients compared to before the pandemic.” And roughly 90% said it has been “extremely” challenging to hire new hygienists and assistants.
Now, as we enter a new year almost two years after the pandemic outbreak, what challenges will dental office management face?
Undoubtedly, dental practices will struggle with growth management as they deal with staff shortages and the influx of patients. As dentists and administrators juggle a return to “business as usual,” office management must also strategically plan for the future in an uncertain world.
One key growth area to watch in 2021 is cosmetic dentistry, as dentists capitalize on the popularity and growth of this enterprise. Additionally, many practices will have to figure out how to maintain and merge popular systems that emerged during COVID—like teledentistry—into their already existing infrastructure.
COVID-19: Impact on the Industry
Like most sectors, dental practices face the repercussions of the pandemic and its impact on the industry. One such outcome being PPE like surgical masks and gloves have doubled and tripled in price, adding a financial burden to accessing necessities.
Dentists and staff are likely to have their hands full as they catch up on procedures and care in the new year that were postponed or delayed due to the initial COVID outbreak and circulating super strains.
Patients were undoubtedly affected by COVID and, for many, it was a frustrating time trying to find care. Now that we’re entering a “post-pandemic phase” (for want of a better term) and the market is somewhat stable again, patient retention and satisfaction will be of utmost importance in 2022.
Management will likely refocus on ensuring their quality of care improves after COVID while maintaining a level of customer service that keeps their patients coming back in a competitive market.
Patients know that dentistry is a tech-forward industry with lots to offer in automation and efficiency. Compared to other healthcare sectors, dentists quickly absorb new technology into their practices to drive growth, improve the patient experience, and streamline processes.
Dentists must continue adopting new technology in 2022, including teledentistry solutions, as patients responded well to the care in 2020 and 2021. 44% of patients expressed wanting to do a mixture of both in-person and telehealth visits in the “post-Covid era.” In addition to technological appliances, dentists will have to utilize dental office management solutions that support the administrative staff and modernize processes.
In spite of all the surprises and stumbling blocks COVID-19 threw our way, the dental industry is predicted to nearly double by 2027, reaching $30.59 billion. Dentists and staff can rest assured that they will reap the benefits if they strategically approach the new year.