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The second wave of COVID-19: what marketing preparations should be made?

Shaz Memon reveals eight key dental marketing tactics to help you survive a second wave this winter

Shaz Memon reveals eight key dental marketing tactics to help you survive this winter and a potential second wave.

We are living in uneasy times. Whilst the number of people known to be dying with coronavirus is in decline, we have all been warned that, without continued government intervention and the concerted efforts by all of us to remain vigilant, we are facing the prospect of another wave of COVID-19.

The dental profession has shown great resilience during the pandemic. This is despite the confusion caused by mixed messages from its regulators and government. But it will need to continue to do so in the face of further peaks of the disease.

We are already seeing epidemic ‘waves’ as winter approaches. The experiences of local lockdowns such as we’ve seen in Leicester, Bolton, Blackburn, the North and North West of England and so on will no doubt shape how others in the profession gear up to respond.

On 29 June, following a surge in coronavirus cases in Leicester, the government took localised action. It locked down the city and surrounding areas.

The city’s dentists were advised to ‘use their own clinical judgement on the additional measures they might want to take’. They were left to make their own decisions with regards the best options for patients. These patients seemingly didn’t have a clue what to expect when they tried to book an appointment.

As one dental nurse told back in July: ‘We have patients, old and new, banging the door expecting us to see them. When patients ring and we explain we cannot have anyone in the practice, they get angry. Then we have to deal with the verbal abuse they throw at us.’

Communication is all

Healthwatch England, the healthcare watchdog, unearthed some serious issues with communications during lockdown.

In a briefing published at the start of September, it revealed that: ‘Throughout the pandemic, we have heard about the difficulties of finding up-to-date information in the languages or formats people need. Especially when advice from the government was frequently changing.’

One of the major issues it reported was that ‘people did not know how to access emergency dental care – causing them extra stress while experiencing acute dental pain or other symptoms. Many others have felt they have no option but to go private if they want to receive treatment for what their dentist considered to be non-emergency treatment’.

And, whilst dentists are understandably more focused on getting their businesses moving again than anticipating upcoming events, the warnings are there.

One lesson is that communication is all. And not just between governing bodies and those at the ‘coal face’.

Channels between practice and patients need to be ramped up too. Early, with high frequency, as well as with transparency and clarity if dental businesses are to survive.

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