The concerns of returning to work during Covid-19

Uncategorized Jul 15, 2020

Periodontists, along with everyone in the medical field are facing additional challenges as they move forward.   How do we strategically balance between the safety of our patients, the welfare of your staff, and the necessity of getting back to work with the complications created by Covid-19?  Like everyone else, Periodontists have been patiently waiting for it to become safe again to provide long overdue and necessary services to the community.

The fundamental approach is of course to provide the best care possible for our patients due to the demands of the myriad of new safety measures caused by Covid-19.   What is not debatable, are the requirements that exist and required to be followed.  

What is often overlooked is the fact that practice owners are expected to produce and provide an appropriate level of the new state of the art “Covid-ified”* measures, which have turned out to be extremely costly and time-consuming to implement.  Not only are Periodontists now required to provide for these measures, but much of this newly mandated equipment may not even be readily available and may be backlogged due to an overload of supply and demand.  Currently, practices are not allowed to fill their schedules to meet production goals, which negates any opportunity to compensate for the newly inflicted costs and efforts.

Periodontists and the significance of Periodontal disease are now being perceived as “elective” importance compared to what has been defined as a necessity due to the pandemic.  In terms of individual patient care, this may not be in alignment with the doctor’s individual idea of necessity.  That said, the best approach for the individual being treated is to let that patient know that their care is the primary concern of yours.

As Periodontists face this newfound obstacle, they are often being forced to work alone or short-staffed due to the significant reluctance for employees to feel safe to return to work.  Some staff members may choose not to come back at all, leaving you with all the headaches that come with finding new staff.

So, what is really behind the fear of coming back to work?

Staff fear returning to work for various reasons, some have specialized family situations where the risk to expose themselves to the public is of much greater consequence.

Others are faced with the painful reality that working a few hours here and there will penalize them from collecting an adequate amount of unemployment benefits.  The benefits of returning to work do not seem to outweigh not only the risk but the payoff to stay home.  Sometimes the benefit to stay home can be much greater from a financial standpoint.  Ultimately the Periodontal practice will be impacted.

It may be difficult to stay grounded in these hectic times. Here are a couple of substantial ways in which you can add accord into your daily work life while having to face the reality of running a practice on limited resources.

The one thing Periodontists should not forget about right now… 

Do not forget about yourself…

First and foremost, it is important to remember in these complex situations to focus on what is important. The key is in self-care and self-preservation. Without self-care, we are not able to care for and put others first.  Aside from the obvious law of self-preservation, the leaders in any business must consider this: “If I’m not there, there is no staff, no periodontal office, no paychecks for anyone.”

If the current regulations continue to remain in place, it is inevitable that the added processes will add to the workload. This means that fewer patients can be seen in a day.  However, the lag time added by these requirements does not have to be a total loss. 

Initiating a goal of increased efficiency outside of the operatory can pay off in the long run.  Upgrading your efficiency through a change offered by taking advantage of new computer technology will allow for more of your valuable time to be spent on patient care itself.

Now is the time to address processes that are slowing you down. Sometimes we let things slip by the wayside, for example going paperless.  It is a proven fact that the use of paper slows you down and paper practices will ultimately become obsolete. The use of paper increases the risk to you and your staff by adding more points of contact between you, them, and the patient.

Start automating things that you do not need to nor should do manually.  The more you are left to work alone, the more viable this concept becomes.  Programs such as PANDA perio eliminate the need for a transcriptionist and can save you hours per week. PANDA Perio’s comprehensive charting that is tailored toward the specialty of Periodontics, translates your clinical data into automatically produced reports saving you from the need for additional staff, minimizing workload for all.  Now is an opportune time to ease into the paperless record environment. 


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