Planning your dental practice future after COVID-19

Your dream doctor. Cheerful dentist looking at camera with smile while sitting in dentist’s office

Dear friends and colleagues,

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve been using acronyms more than usual. There’s the PPP and a shortage of PPE, EIDL grants from the SBA, the CARES Act and the most recent IFR (Interim Final Rule). Even COVID-19 is an acronym for coronavirus disease of 2019.

We use acronyms as a shorthand, and it’s nice not to have to use the whole phrase over and over. But it’s also important to keep in mind the people behind the letters: the owners and employees who are looking for their paychecks (PPP), the spouses, friends, and colleagues being protected from disease (PPE).

This is a human moment, and it’s going to take our shared humanity to overcome it. We will get through this.

If you haven’t reached out to your furloughed employees and your patients recently, send out an email, film a short video, make a phone call – do what you can to stay connected. People will remember it.

If you’re looking for a textbook example of this, check out this video from Dr. Samni. I don’t know him, but this video was forwarded to me, and I think it’s an incredible example of a real, human moment from a doctor to his patients.

The PPP Runs Dry…for now…

As I’m sure you’ve all heard, the initial $349 billion allocated to the program has now run dry. I remain somewhat optimistic that Congress will approve more funds, but it’s been a frustrating experience.

And it’s especially infuriating when businesses like Shake Shack and Ruth’s Chris receive $10 million and $20 million from the PPP – despite being part of publicly traded companies with well over 500 employees (they each have over 6000 employees!).

Still, we press on. At this point, my best advice is to wait and prepare.

If you’ve already been approved, be sure you carefully allocate the funds for maximum loan forgiveness (and avoiding charges of fraud – remember, this is a loan for a specific purpose, namely to keep employees employed).

If you haven’t yet applied or been approved, make sure you have everything ready (I have more info about this in a past newsletter here).

Survey Results

Last week I put out a survey, and we had about 120 dentists respond. Here are some of the highlights.

How busy do you expect to be after reopening? While 14% of practice owners responded that they expected to be VERY busy after reopening, there was a pretty even split between those practice owners who thought they would be similarly busy or busier (52%) and those who thought they would be less busy (48%).

If you have a loan on your practice, were any of your payments deferred? Of doctors with loans, 63% had a payment deferred, while 37% did not.

Practice Owners: Have you applied for any of the SBA loans? Most have applied for both the EIDL and the PPP, with 79% of respondents saying that they applied for the EIDL and 86% for the PPP.

Future Practice Acquisition Plans Of the dentists who did not own practices, the percentage who were absolutely sure they were going to purchase a practice went from 70% pre-COVID to 25% now. This looks bad, but the majority of those doctors hadn’t decided never to purchase -they had just taken a step back to re-evaluate (65% indicated that they were still very likely to purchase a practice in the future, down from 85% pre-COVID). Interestingly, many of the practice owners commented that they were looking to purchase an additional practice.

Future Practice Sale Plans: About 15% of dentists are thinking that they will delay their sale because of COVID and 5% will be selling earlier than they planned. The other 80% were either unsure or had not changed their plans.

If you had to guess, when do you think you’ll re-open. June 1st was the most popular answer by far, with May 4th and 10th coming in second and third place.

Planning for the Future

I was interested to see how divided opinions were about their levels of busyness after reopening, but this also speaks to the fact that we just don’t know. On the consulting side, we are advising clients to make two plans for reopening: one for if patients are all ready to return and the schedule fills itself, and another plan for if patients are skittish and the schedule is difficult to fill.

Take some time and make sure that you have a plan for both instances. Next week we’ll be publishing some more advice around post-COVID planning for your practice.

Through all of this, it’s important to remember:

 

  1. Your patients are still going to require dental care.
  2. You are innovative and will adapt to new circumstances.
  3. The dental industry has been recession-resistant. It’s a big ship that doesn’t change course easily.
  4. The weeks and months ahead will be tough, but we WILL make it through this together.


The Most Recent Patient Screening and PPE Recommendations from the CDA and CA DPH

CDA: “Dentists must be available to their patients of record for emergency care or have arranged coverage with another dentist. Emergency dental care for patients who are screened and do not report COVID-19 symptoms or exposure can be managed by a dental office.” You can read it all here.

 

CA Department of Public Health: “For procedures on patients with urgent dental problems who are not symptomatic for COVID-19 and without known exposure to COVID-19, the below mentioned PPE protocol should be adhered to where applicable including performing procedures in a manner to reduce aerosol generation.” You can read it all here.

Another Musical Diversion

Another week, another Yo-Yo Ma clip. This is probably the most famous piece of music for cello ever written. In the description of the video, he writes: “This music has been with me for 60 years. It’s seen me through times of stress, loss, joy, and transition. It’s connected me to others all over the world, and helped me to understand life in new ways.” Here’s the link!

Good health and best wishes to you and your families,

Trevor Kimball, PhD

President, Integrity Practice Sales
trevor@integritypracticesales.com

Trevor Kimball, PhD