Nobody expected a pandemic, much less the resulting shutdown of businesses and establishments due to lockdowns and quarantines. Like every health industry, dental practices worldwide had to take a step back to reevaluate and restructure most of their operations.
Even for an industry used to dealing with constant changes and improvements, the most recent ones have proven that newer problems in the dental industry are still bound to arise in the future. These challenges will require all the innovation you can muster as a professional in your dental practice.
The COVID-19 Pandemic
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, working with your patients has never been more challenging than the last two years in your dental practice. Not only do you have to deal with the fact that your patients are the main source of infection for you and your team — especially with how the coronavirus is transmitted. The impact of the pandemic to your dental practice doesn't end with the burden of additional requirements and regulations. . As the long-term effects of the pandemic continue, you’ll also have to keep up with all Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updates, changes in mask requirements, and new vaccination mandates.
Recommended Reading 📃 How to Address COVID-19 Vaccine Conflicts in Your Dental, Optometry or Medical Practice
Student Loan Debt and Cost of a Private Practice
Dentists, like many working professionals, face the monumental challenge of paying off their student loan debt from their undergraduate studies and dental school. Such incredibly high student loan debt can add to the financial burden of maintaining a private dental practice — not to mention your overall stress.
Opening a private practice is costly on its own. Approximately, the average new practice will require around $500,000 cash for structural renovations, equipment, and supplies. Dentists will have to dig deep to pay off student loan debt while opening (or simply maintaining) a private dental practice.
Finding New Patients
One of the many problems in the dental industry you’ll face is finding new patients. Even if you’ve managed to overcome the financial issues inherent to opening a new dental practice, finding new patients is one challenge that requires dedication, a productive team and serious networking.
Building a steady customer base is critical. If your dental practice is still new, you might experience some challenges in attracting new patients and earning their loyalty. The good news is that when it comes to building trust with new patients, the desire to prove your practice is reliable — and that your team delivers consistent quality — is a good start.
However, from an internal perspective, maintaining positive team morale/culture and solidifying the efficiency of your processes is critical to such goals. Without the foundation of culture and process, your team will be much harder pressed to deliver reliability and quality. How you approach this foundation will set the tone for your practice’s success.
Time Management and Consistent Client Care
Let’s say you now have a steady client base, and you’ve overcome the challenge of acquiring new clients. Another common challenge in the dental industry involves time management — making sure you can provide everyone the same quality care you established in the beginning.
The more patients you start receiving, the less time you can dedicate to providing higher quality work. A sensible option to alleviate that pain point is the expansion of your team. You can hire an efficient dental assistant who can help you handle the bulk of your paperwork and other tasks, such as cleaning and preparing your equipment before each dental procedure.
However, recruitment itself has evolved in numerous ways since the rise of COVID. Examine extra resources available to you that will help bolster your hiring process. Recruiting consultants, staffing agencies, online job boards, social media — such resources are more viable than ever. Also, consider offering your current employees bonuses for referring qualified candidates, or incentivizing your part-timers to get more hours by doing the recruitment legwork.
As a dentist, you're not immune to the mental and physical health issues that the majority of medical professionals deal with on a regular basis. Maintaining your own health as a dentist is crucial. It’s no secret that dental procedures can take hours of work — and in many cases, put unnatural strain on your body.
Aside from physical health, you also have to keep an eye on mental health. As a medical professional, you're far from alone in this. Maintaining a private practice, managing your personal time, and taking care of your patients can all take a toll.
Don’t forget your team when considering mental health! Mental resilience and positive culture are critical components of any operation. Many health insurance packages now include bonuses such as remote therapy, and some medical practices partner with their local therapy practices to offer discounts to each other’s employees. In addition to these benefits, it goes a long way if you place efforts in empathizing with your team when you communicate with them.
From inter-employee relationships to customer relations to crucial paperwork details, the importance of mental health cannot be overstated.
Staying Ahead of The Competition
Apart from the initial and personal concerns that come with entrepreneurial territory, you no doubt have competition to worry about. Staying ahead of your competition means more patients, more income, and possibly new investors.
Sometimes, outsmarting the competition requires capital. Fortunately, that makes the challenge a simple one. As a private dental practice, you’ll be investing in the latest equipment and technology — a necessary part of your overhead if you want to offer premium dental care to your patients. Adjacent to this concern is the current need to provide patients with a safe and sanitized environment free from potential disease transmission.
Of course, money and technology don’t fill in the full picture. Once again, it’s highly recommended that you examine your practice’s culture. How do you approach morale? Is your office a welcoming space — not just for patients, but for employees? Are you generating trust, earning loyalty, showing genuine reward where it’s due? Is your practice similar to a supportive family, or a dysfunctional one? The ripple effects of culture and morale are almost always shown on your bottom line.
Recommended Reading 📃 COVID-19 Resources for Employers
How HR for Health Can Help
The current pandemic may have added a significant bump in the road to your growing practice, but it's one of many short and long-term challenges you'll face.
The best gift you can give yourself at this stage in your career is a solution that leverages existing strengths. The truth is that saving time, money, and sanity never goes out of style — no matter what industry you're building your business in.
Schedule an HR Consultation to learn how our proven, cutting-edge software helps you stay ahead of the competition. Our software makes HR processes simple, allowing practices the ability to focus on other priorities such as onboarding and ramping up new employees, maintaining employee personnel documentation and housing your handbook policies.