The Covid-19 Pandemic has brought a storm of imminent changes that have assaulted our very way of life. As we slowly navigate through the uncertainties, it is increasingly becoming clear to us that we will have to contend with the consequences. The question then lies – how are we going to manage these changes so that we afford the most minimal of damages and re-build our businesses to once again thrive?

Before we strategize on how we manage the changes, it might be worthwhile having a birds-ey view of all the possible changes that face us at this current moment in time. This allows us to prioritise which changes would be the most beneficial to us. It also allows us to start anticipating some of the challenges we may face.

I would suggest that much thought is given as to how we plan to instigate the changes we want in our practice.

Whichever Changes we choose, one thing is sure, we are going to need our teams to be on board with the new way of doing things. This means a shift in comfort zones which is not an easy thing to do. Hence, understanding how you are going to manage the Change will be an important consideration.

Change Management is a process that allows us to implement the required changes in a manner that is received as best as possible by the team. This is the crux of effective Leadership in times of crises.

And it all starts with which initiatives we plan to carry out and why?

Possible upcoming Changes due to the Covid-19 Pandemic:

The Speed of Change

Things are changing at a variable speed with no certainty. Hence, we are going to need to be very agile in how we adapt to the unfolding circumstances. In some respects, we will need to act quickly since we need to take advantage of the opportunities that arise; in other instances, we will need to be more considered in our approach and tread slowly. However, this is difficult when we are paralleled with so much uncertainty at the same time.

Uncertainties are arising from:

  • Regulations and Guidance.

    Regulatory bodies are slow at coming to decisions and communicating them- things like when we can start work, what we are allowed to do and how we are allowed to do it.

  • Pandemic Behaviour.

    It is highly uncertain as to how the Covid-19 pandemic is going to develop and progress over time. Will it ever go away? Will we see a second peak in the death rates? Is it here to stay? Are we simply going to have to co-exist with Covid-19?

  • Impact on our businesses.

    Things are becoming more apparent as we transition from lockdown to eventually getting back to a sustainable business. There is much uncertainty as to what that will look like and what challenges we are yet to face.

  • Cash Flow Management.

    How we are going to manage our cash flow? What are our new financial goals going to look like? And how are we going to focus more on Turnover whilst still keeping profitability at the back of our minds?

  • The NEW Normal.

    When will things return to normality? I would like to propose a caveat here – things are never going get back to the “normal” as we have once known it to be. The picture is going to look very different. The quicker we accept this, the sooner we can shift our mindsets to tackling the new way of doing things. But that may look slightly different for each of us!


Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s)

We are now having to establish a more a systemised approach to dental treatments so that everyone is kept safe. This implies that there will be a few new systems for every person in the team to learn. Indeed, there may be more new systems to add on as we progress forward. This in itself is a challenge. The last time we had to make such a shift in operating dynamics was with the introduction the CQC Protocols in 2011.

Not only this, but we now have enhanced risk assessments for both Covid infection status of our patients prior to coming into the practice and Risk Assessments for which procedures are necessary, including the associated fallow time required.

All this is associated with much Change.


Communication of additional costs of treatment.

We are now having to brainstorm different ways that may be appropriate to compensate for the additional costs such as Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), fallow time and additional material costs. How much do we charge? Do we absorb this fee? Do we charge patients for it? Will it be per visit or per Treatment Plan? How do we manage communication of this surcharge? 


Team Communication

Regular team meetings are going to change to Virtual meetings since you may not be able to have them appropriately in the practice. E.g. with Zoom meetings.

Topics you may need to include in your team communication are:

  • Keeping the team motivated and continue building relationships with them.
  • Providing up to date information
  • Providing the required support, e.g. Mental health and coping with uncertainty
  • Discussion of the latest developments
  • Re-thinking how we approach things as the challenges arise


Working hours changed.

Your normal working hours are now going to look a little different if you want to implement the changes necessary and bring your productivity levels back up.


Cross Trained Team.

It will be useful for you to have high adaptability within your team to accommodate productive patterns of work. This will allow team members to participate in different roles that may be required at different times to cope with the day. For example, it would be useful for a receptionist to also do Treatment Coordinator sessions or for nurses to participate in administrative duties when not nursing. This in itself requires considerable training and a change in mindset from the team.



There are many ideas floating around on what will happen to our hygienist treatments. Do you make hygienist appointments longer and charge your patients more? Does the hygienist only perform Non-AGP to reduce fallow time and keep up productivity? Do we change the way hygienists are remunerated? Do we pay them only for the patients they see? Do we not pay an hourly rate anymore and change to a percentage of profits? How will need to introduce the Change to our patients? What additional training is our team going to need as a consequence?

There is much to think about.


Triaging New Patient Treatment.

You will find that there will be a more principal led diary to compensate for the additional costs and a reduced number of patients we are capable of seeing.

Alternatively, the Principal may start to refer to various low income or those that the principal doesn’t want to do type procedures to associates who become more like technicians.



This is a concept whereby the principal works from two or more rooms. So, they work in one room with one nurse and then move to another room for another patient with another nurse. The first room can then be turned over with the appropriate fallow time. This means that the dentist is continually seeing patients.


Energy Management

Due to longer working hours, dovetailing, seeing all the patients and practice management, things are going to become quite exhausting. This means that you are going to have to take up strategies on how to best manage your energy levels. You are going to have to step up your game in this area too, if you are going to survive these changes.


Patient Communication

There are many new and exciting ways that we can now introduce that will save time in the practice but still maintain a high communication level. We can take advantage of Tele-Dentistry, Virtual Consultations and an adapted Communication Journey for our patients. However, as well as the need to understand our patient’s dental requirements, we will have to communicate current practice updates and engage in covid-phobia and safety management.


Digital Contactless Dentistry.

This is another area of change that we may decide to introduce into our practice if not already. This can include digital dentistry, the use of digital scanners for displaying virtual treatment options, digital e consents and all documentation, digital reports, online or contactless payments and e-consultations. 


Diary Management for Productivity.

You may have to introduce block booking and zoning out areas to accommodate both types of treatment and fallow time required for each. Hence, you can block out when you see non-aerosol generated procedures (non-AGP), AGP, primary, secondary and tertiary appointments, emergency patients and new patients.


Shift System

This is when two sets of teams work at different times, so overall “working” time is longer. This allows you to accommodate more patients.


Leadership Skills.

Practice owners are going to find that much of practice management is going to require sharper Leadership skills. However, in my experience, this is not something dentists know how to conduct appropriate and hence it will be associated with a corresponding learning curve.


Empathic Marketing.

As part of productive business management, you will need to adapt to better Marketing techniques that are sensitive to the times. This requires effort in re-analysing your marketing strategies.


These are but a few of the ideas being currently spoken about; there may well be more to come. I hope it is clear to you that the months ahead will need much of your attention, focus and energy.

There is much that will probably change. Therefore, you are going to need a planned, structured approach to instigate the change. This is called Change Management.

Introducing Change initiatives has historically not been easy and can be opposed to much team resistance. However, there are certain strategies that can be employed to ensure that the outcome is as favourable as possible.

This is something I will be discussing with you all in the very near future.


Talk to us about how we can help. Get in touch with us today.