Q&A with Kevin Mosher, Chief Executive Officer at ClearChoice Management Services

Kevin Mosher serves as Chief Executive Officer at ClearChoice Management Services. 

On June 15, 2020, Kevin will serve as a panelist at Becker's Dental + DSO Review Virtual Event. As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to industry leaders who plan to speak at the virtual event, which will first air June 15 and be available on-demand following.

To learn more about this exclusive event, click here.

Question: How can dentists boost patient engagement and loyalty after the COVID-19 shutdown?

Kevin Mosher: There are a number of ways dentists can boost patient engagement and loyalty upon returning to service. Above all, practices must create consistently positive experiences and take a very proactive approach in reassuring patients that their practice is a safe environment for treatment.

It is extremely important that dentists take the lead for their practices by establishing clear safety guidelines, ensuring they are understood by all staff, and through constant monitoring for adherence. The dentist’s leadership will breed confidence for both the staff and the patients alike. The bottom line is that patient safety, and best practices around infection control, must remain a core value of the practices.

Practices must reach out directly to patients—mailers, calls, voice messages, social media and websites—to keep communication lines open and reassure them of safety measures and to offer alternatives like teledentistry, or other methods of altering service offerings, to maximize comfort and minimize in-office presence.

This is also a great time for dentists to really emphasize the health aspects of dentistry, delivering education around the oral-systemic connection – oral health's impact on overall health.

Finally, with the pandemic putting pressure on consumers’ finances, dentists may offer easy financing and flexible payment options, and/or phased treatment plans. Helping people to get the care they need in a method they can afford.

Q: What are some trends you predict the dental industry will see in the era of COVID-19?

KM: While no one can tell exactly what the future will bring, we believe  COVID -19 will have a lasting effect on dentistry. When the pandemic is over, I am optimistic that the future of dentistry will include: 

  • Permanent use of patient health screening protocols and teledentistry for certain patient interactions.
  • An opportunity to bring a greater focus to the role of dentistry to enhance an individual’s overall health – to minimize oral-related systemic health issues (comorbidities) by incorporating a routine of regular dental visits and care.
  • A high priority placed on best practices and new technologies to maximize cleanliness and infection control.
  • Creation of treatment environments that better conform to patient desires. For example, all-in-one dental service providers that minimize multi-practice patient visits, and consolidating touchpoints, fees and relationship management.

Q: What is currently one of the greatest challenges for dentists?

KM: COVID-19 has had a significant financial impact on dental practices due to the stoppage of all but emergency dental services, the public’s reticence to return to the dentist for treatment during the pandemic, and the loss of jobs, which is affecting patients’ ability to pay. Results may be cost-cutting, workforce reduction, a lack of financial reserves, and possibly office closures. To sustain operations in the short-term, dentists may seek financial relief from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act and through the utilization of tools, such as teledentistry, that enable contact with patients who may be reticent to come into their practices. Over the longer term, it is incumbent upon the profession to help those in positions of regulating the opening or closing of business to better understand the essential role dentistry plays in preserving health and serving as a triage point for a large component of emergency room visits.

Q: How will advanced dentistry change as a result of this pandemic?  

KM: Advanced dentistry will certainly be affected by the pandemic in two main ways:

First, specialists typically see a contraction of referrals in economic downturns, and we expect the effects of the lockdowns, and resulting unemployment claims, will create economic headwinds that will likely manifest such a contraction.

Second, the inefficiencies and risk-tolerance levels of independent specialists will be magnified. This will likely drive consolidation in the dental specialties, a segment previously oriented away from consolidation.

Q: How has the reopening been going at ClearChoice centers? Any key learnings for dentistry offices? 

KM: The re-opening of approximately 80% of ClearChoice Centers has underscored our optimism. Overall, the demand has rebounded very well. We are also finding that the orientation toward over-communication throughout our network has proved to be a key facilitator in keeping doctors and staff engaged and reassured.

The establishment of a multidisciplinary team to develop and publish advanced safety protocols for key stakeholders (patients, staff, doctors) was critical in our return to service as it provided reassurance for both staff and patients. Everyone was informed and on the same page.

Use of PPE for all practice employees and visitors offered further reassurance for some but was a source of irritation for others. This was surprising and we have learned it is very important to arm the practices with talking points to effectively address any objections to these new protocols.

Patients appreciated direct communication from the office and the chance to spend time in virtual assessments, which minimized in-person, in-center time.

We have an even greater appreciation for the high acuity of our patients ClearChoice doctors serve, based on their extreme gratitude—even relief—for the availability of emergency dentistry during the shutdowns, as well as their ability to access treatment so quickly after they restrictions were lifted.

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