When COVID-19 hit the United States, it didn’t pull any punches. US News and World Report’s September 2020 article, “A New Study Explores COVID-19’s Significant Impact on the Dental Industry,” detailed the impact the pandemic has had on the dental industry.
The article centered around "Dental Services and the Impact of COVID-19: An Analysis of Private Claims,” a study conducted by U.S. News and World Report’s independent organization, Fair Health. One key data point revealed that even after bans were lifted, dental service utilization still declined. “Use of dental services fell 75% in March 2020 and 79% in April 2020 compared to the same months the year before, showing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. These were months when many states enacted COVID-19-related bans on elective dental procedures. In May 2020, when many states lifted these bans, dental service utilization still declined compared to May 2019, but only by 27%.”
Early on, many dentists were overwhelmed as they navigated through their options, seeking sources and advice on the new regulations on PPE, FFCRA, FMLA and more. They faced a delicate balancing act as they prepared to re-open. They struggled with the question of how best to keep patients, their staff and themselves safe while running a profitable business.
Fast forward to August, 2020 and a majority of dental practices continued to feel the effects of COVID-19. An American Dental Association poll conducted on August 10, 2020 cited in the US News and World Report article, found that “98.9% of respondents were open, but only 47.6% reported "business as usual, 51.3% were open but had lower patient volume than usual."
Budgeting for Unexpected Expenses
Dentists needed to factor in unexpected costs for N95 and FFP2 respirators, visors, and disposable eye protection equipment for themselves and their clinical staff. Disposable glove costs increased because practitioners needed to put on new gloves more frequently. Factor in disposable gowns and disposable aprons, and expenses quickly added up, and practices suffered.
New Waiting Room and Patient Check-in Procedures
Social distancing requirements limited how many patients could receive care at the same time. Practices shifted their waiting rooms to their patients’ vehicles and those that enabled patients to complete pre-exam paperwork in their homes had a smoother check-in process than those without that option.
Practices Took the Time to Research Cloud-Based Practice Management Software
Based on the number of Curve Hero demos during COVID-19, it is apparent that dentists took advantage of their unexpected downtime to research cloud-based dental practice management software. Unlike other medical segments, dentistry has been slower to adopt cloud-based software. While it is fair to say that the majority of dentists believe that the cloud is the future, approximately 85% held onto their server-based software until COVID-19. With limited access to patient data during the shutdown, more practices than ever considered the benefits of cloud-based software. In Curve Hero’s case, nearly three times as many practices moved to our cloud-based platform than ever before.
Remote Access to Data Helped Curve Hero Customers Get a Jump Start on Recovery
Early on, our customers told us how much easier it was to open their practice’s doors to their patients while using the Curve Hero platform. They made digital forms available to patients whose information automatically went directly into the database. Office staff informed patients of the practice’s COVID-19 protocols in advance of appointments which increased confidence in their commitment to keeping everyone safe. Billing went through the Patient Portal, eliminating the need to handle and return credit cards at the front desk. This “low-touch/no-touch” experience made a potentially unmanageable process far more manageable than practices on traditional server-based systems.
What Our New Customers Told Us After Switching to Curve Hero
Going into the demo, dental professionals knew that cloud-based software allowed them much easier access to patient data than their server-based system. But they discovered many more benefits available with Curve Hero. Typically, dentists and office managers are reluctant to change software because of the anticipated disruption to their practice due to the data conversion process, a potential lengthy learning curve and time-consuming training.
During discussions they learned that we make it significantly easier to switch software by having time-proven processes in place to make the transition as smooth as possible. We collaborate with the dental office from start to finish—during the initial set up through data review and final assembly. We’ve successfully completed more than 4,000 data, file, and image conversions from well over 90 practice management software products, both server-based and cloud-based. Watch Dr. Jesse Ritter explain his Curve Hero conversion experience in this video.
Web-based training means your team doesn’t have to travel. Staff adopt the software quickly because we separate each training session into small digestible bites. Plus, they have access to Curve Community, a rich library of information to remind them of what they learned or act as a quick training refresher.
Disasters Aren’t Planned. They Just Happen.
Well before COVID-19, dental practices have had to deal with unexpected events like fires, floods, data breaches and more. If your data is contained on a server in your office and disaster strikes, you could be out of luck. There are so many good reasons to move your practice to the cloud. But above all, protecting your data is Reason #1. The cloud is by far your best option to protect your business from the unexpected.