EP 73: The Latest Announcement from the WHO and the Possible Impact on Your Schedule

We’ve heard a lot of frustration from the dental world about the latest WHO recommendation in the media.

Practices are noticing cancellations, concerned patients, and sudden fall-out of appointment retention which is very concerning.

In this episode, Dr. John and Wendy share the best tools and tactics to combat this WHO recommendation, calm the fears of patients, and continue to serve patients at the highest level.

For more video updates from Wendy and Dr. John, follow us on Facebook.

Welcome to the Double Your Production Podcast with The Team Training Institute, the one place designed for dentists and their staff who want to grow their practices by following in the footsteps of those that have done it or in the trenches. We know exactly what you're going through. And now, your leaders, the stars of the podcast, Dr. John Meis and Wendy Briggs.

Wendy: Looks like we are now live. Good morning, Dr. John.

Dr. John: Hey, Wendy, how you doing this morning?

Wendy: I'm great.

00:00:35.820 Welcome, everybody, to this session of the Double Your Production series. And we've got some good stuff for you today too.

00:00:45.080 We do. There's been a little bit of a media blitz the last few weeks. I would say the last week or so. We've heard a lot about dental practices and some kind of questionable recommendations from the World Health Organization about delaying preventive visits and then, of course, statements from the ADA about their opinion on the matter. So we thought we'd take just a few minutes and talk about it because we're hearing from some practices that they're already suffering some negative impacts from these media reports.

00:01:18.460 Yeah. Here we go again, right? These organizations that are supposed to provide clarity and factual recommendations-- and the WHO has one set of recommendations, the CDC another, the ADA another. It is an ongoing thing, and this one is a flare-up and really a very, very old information. So tell us what happened, Wendy.

Wendy: Yeah. So I'm going to go ahead and share my screen, Dr. John, so I can kind of walk people through some of what we are learning here, some of what has happened. So when we look at scheduled forecasting, we've talked about this quite a bit, you and I, on some very early Facebook lives. They were back in March at the very beginning of the pandemic. We talked about how important it was going to be for practices to really look ahead and forecast in their schedules so we don't get caught off guard with things we don't expect. In fact, just last week or fairly recently, I even had Curtis Marshall on from Dental Intel. And we talked about the coming storm that the data is showing us that many practices are not where they need to be, not even close of where they need to be, of scheduled future visits and hygiene because of the shutdown. He said the average practice is only scheduling up to about 20% of where they need to be for the month of October, for example. So we talked about that. We talked about the considerable amount of effort it's going to take to fill that cavern, right? The blue squiggle is the gap, right, between where we should be and where we actually are. And on the image to the right, the pink is all that's going to need to be filled in so that we can maintain our normal area of productivity and patient visits. And so there's some alarming things coming, and we talked about that. And we talked about how to really make sure we're paying attention and following the data. But then we didn't realize that the coming storm, the WTF-moment, was actually a lot sooner than we thought, right? We expected that wasn't going to happen until October. And, lo and behold, August 11th rolls around, and we have the World Health Organization making this recommendation. And what's fascinating is they didn't even-- we're going to dig in for just a minute on what they actually said. What they said is actually not the problem. The problem is what the media did with what they said, right? The headlines are what people hear. They don't always even read the articles or read the insight. And so here's a post. Somebody says, "Is anybody experiencing a nuclear fallout after the World Health Organization came out saying to [delay routine?] visits, and we'll talk about it in a moment. That's actually not what they said but that's what the media said they said, right? So here's one response. We had eight voicemail cancellations this morning citing the local news story and the WHO. So I don't know if you're experiencing some of that in your practices, John, but we're hearing a lot of that from members.

Dr. John: Yeah, we have not seen fallout from the WHO. It was mentioned in the national media but some local media kind of took it to the next level and made it even less accurate and, thankfully, our practices in Tulsa there wasn't much coverage, and so we're having about the same kind of fallout and cancellation rate as we did before, so. But, luckily, it isn't affecting our practices but it's affecting most practices across the country.

Dr. John: And that's so true. We had coaches reach out and say, "Hey, clients have reached out, and they'd like some help with scripting." So we did that. We created some scripting because, again, these are the headlines: nonessential dental care should be delayed during the pandemic. The World Health Organization-- if you follow their stuff, they said they just released interim guidance on considerations for provision of essential oral health services and, certainly, they addressed the prioritization of urgent cases, and they were talking about non-essential care so the impact immediately-- again, the headlines are what people pay attention to and so here's what everybody said, "Delay of routine dental checkups." The ADA came out with a response. They respectfully and strongly disagrees with the guidance and so here was a statement from the ADA. This interim guidance missed that the guidance did not intend to override official recommendations at the national or local level. So that was Dr. Christopher Fox who is the CEO for the International Association of Dental Research and the American Association for Dental Research. Basically, what he was saying is we've already got our interim guidance: follow that. The World Health Organization interim guidance that defines preventive oral care as nonessential health care the ADA respectfully but strongly disagreed with.

Wendy: Well, Dr. John, what's interesting is sometimes when you dig into the actual guidance-- I found this to be really telling. As the statement from the World Health Organization chief dental officer that followed this media blitz, I thought this is fascinating but, of course, this is not what patients know. So as you have some of these conversations with patients I think they need to know this, right? Unfortunately, a number of media headlines, intentionally or not, when referring to the World Health Organization guidance did not mention that the recommendation to delay routine oral health care is only suggested in an intense, uncontrolled community transmission scenario, and she goes on to say a scenario that does not fit with the current situation in most countries around the world. Well, come on. This is so frustrating. Like we said before, who are we going to follow? The ADA has already handled interim guidance. Why is this recommendation hitting now? They are several months behind the eight ball here and it's super frustrating for us on the front lines.

00:07:22.220 Yeah, they really are.

00:07:22.890 So [inaudible]-- what was that?

00:07:25.770 Yeah, they really are there. They're just behind and make a blanket recommendation like this or what appeared to be a blanket recommendation is just irresponsible.

00:07:37.190 I totally agree. So she says, "So please be aware of the missing information sometimes disseminated by the media that could increase fear and concern to patients seeking oral healthcare." Well, that information would've been helpful at the top of the media headlines, right? So here we are now dealing with the fallout of this. So here's what happened. It was funny. I was in a couple groups. We created the scripting and sent it right out to our coaches and right out to Members we sent it to the practices that we're currently working with and then, Thursday afternoon, actually, Thursday evening, I saw a variety of posts in groups that we moderate and groups that we participate in on social media that said, "Hey, we're really having a struggle with this fallout," It was all over social media, dentists expressing the frustration that we just talked about here. And so I offered that resource. I said, "Hey drop your email and we'd be happy to send you the scripting that we created," And literally the next morning we had more than 400 requests on just this one post alone. So many people requested help with the scripting. So here's what we did, we reached out to our team and we said, "Can you get us an easier way for people to download this script that's designed to help patients who are concerned to call and ask about it, who called to say they need to cancel or change their appointment," It's designed to help them understand that they don't need to be concerned and to help keep them in the schedule. So we decided to create a landing page so that everyone, even those that are listening to this Facebook live, can have access to this resource that has already proven helpful. We got a few emails back right away that said, "Hey this is great stuff, used it just this morning and it's really helping our patients feel better about keeping their appointments," So we're delighted to hear that update as well.

00:09:19.240 Yeah. Fantastic.

00:09:21.820 So here's an example, but you'll see, and, of course, there's just a little bit more information on that. You can click and download the script right away and it'll be delivered right away because we want you have access to that. It talks about patients that are coming for routine hygiene visits but also those that may have some periodontal concerns that are alarming as well. So it'll give you some additional resources and insights to be able to overcome some of the patient's concerns and help them see that we are doing everything we can, we're going above and beyond to keep them completely safe in this moment of chaos, right? There's other tools as well. Dr. John, we want to alert everybody, if you're using Dental Intel, they've done a great job in creating some resources for those of you that if you look at your data, and you say, "Hey, we're only at 20 percent or we're only scheduled to 50 percent for October," Get after it. You've got to be using these tools. Go after your COVID abandoned patient appointment list. Especially those in need of periodontal maintenance. We know that there's a higher risk of COVID complications. If a patient has excess inflammation in the body and that certainly is directed at our perio-maintenance patients, patients that have delayed their periodontal therapy visits because of concerns of the pandemic, it's time to get them back on track and get them taken care of at this point.

00:10:36.650 And so many people have said, "Oh gosh, it's just hygiene, it's not that big a deal, it's just hygiene," And hygiene is 30 percent of the practice. But here's what's going to happen if you don't fix this now. If you're not working on it steadily to fill in those times. Remember, same-day dentistry comes out of hygiene mostly, right? So now the same-day goes away and 70 percent of restorative production comes from exams and hygiene. So this is a multi-month drop in your practice if you don't fix this and don't fix it now. So this is-- Dental Intel has a great tool. That, and other automation tools can be very very helpful in filling this gap. I know our front desk teams are already kind of overwhelmed with the greater strain that they have from COVID and how we're doing the waiting room-less offices and the greater call volume and the greater churn, more cancellations. I know they're already overstressed. So this is a whole team effort to get this fixed.

00:11:47.210 Absolutely. So we know there's a lot of schedule forecasting that needs to happen and again, we just encourage you, take a look, look ahead, be working now. I know there's a lot of our practices that we're directly coaching that have made some significant strides but even some of our top performers are still at about 50 percent of where they should be. Or that six months from the time they were closed, so all hands on deck right now. And I know as you mentioned, Dr. John, we're hearing from a lot of people, a lot of staff concerns, they're short staffed, which makes it even more important to use the technology that you have at your fingertips, use online scheduling, use your mass contact programs to really reach out. All hands on deck because as you mentioned, we would hate to see you take another hit six months from the initial hit. So it's time. The storm is coming and we've got to make sure that we're on top of it.

00:12:38.410 Yeah. One of our managers said, "Okay. I'm going to start working on staffing when we don't have any patients in the office," So we're going to have to redo staffing. And while I appreciate her having the forethought, she was thinking ahead, which I really appreciate, but much better to think ahead and say, "Okay. How do we fill those spaces.? How do we make that happen so that we don't have this drop? So that we don't have to change our staffing, so that our patients and teams both end up on the good side?"

00:13:11.220 Yeah. I would agree Dr. John. And it seems like when we first came back, a lot of our practices were just slammed, right? They were fat and happy with all the patients that they were trying to catch up on. And I'm thinking, what I'm seeing, is that some of that is starting to wane a little bit. And now, we're having open time in the schedule. So this means systems matter more now than ever. We've got to follow through with your recall, with your recovery, and all those vital systems. So again, we just invite you, if you don't have the script yet, just go to www.whoscripting.com and you can download it there. But again, we're just so excited to-- even with all these struggles and challenges, we're just happy practices are open and taking care of patients and so that's the good news, right? There's always some good in any storm. The silver lining in that grey cloud is that we are open, we are taking care of patients, and providing the valuable services that our patients need and want. And again, just a word of warning today, just pay attention to that schedule. Use scheduled forecasting, make sure your systems are on point, because it can be incredibly damaging down the road if we're not paying attention to those details today.

00:14:18.210 That's for sure. So again, six weeks to fix it, right? So let's get on it and let's get it fixed. One great thing that may come from this is, practices using their technology at a higher level than they ever have before. Because this can be a very manual, very difficult process or it can be a very automated process that's relatively simple that you can carry on forever. So there's a good opportunity for people here to expand their capabilities and we really encourage you to do it and get started right now.

00:14:52.290 Very good. So that's today's quick update Dr. John. Short, sweet, to the point, but we just wanted to sound the alarm bells a little bit for people that aren't paying attention and of course, provide a valuable resource for those that are having any type of pushback and challenge getting patients feeling comfortable about honoring their appointments.

00:15:08.640 Awesome. Great job, Wendy. Thanks for being with us on another session of the double your production group.

00:15:15.130 Thanks everybody.

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