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Get ready—your patients are coming back!

May 14, 2021
With so many people putting off routine dental appointments since the onset of COVID-19, it only makes sense for practices to anticipate a rush of patients needing to catch up on their care. Here's how to make sure you're ready.

Have you thought about how prepared you and your office are for the rush of patients now that things are settling down a bit from COVID-19? If not, then you better think again. 

It may surprise you to learn that Americans are postponing basic healthcare during the pandemic. According to an article published on Time magazine’s website, “The top-line numbers from a survey of 1,093 participants (a representative sample of the US public) are sobering, with 78% of respondents reporting that they have put off at least some medical services during the past three months of the pandemic. Of those procedures, dental exams or cleanings were the most frequently missed, with 30% saying that they have passed on regular oral care.”[1]

Wow! With that in mind, think about the large number of patients that will most likely be returning to your office. Is your schedule ready? Is your staff ready? Are the doctors ready? Is your patient protocol ready? Are you ready? This is overwhelming to think about, but let’s start with a few basic things to consider:

Your schedule

Take the time to look at your schedule to see if there are any openings that can accommodate the patients that need to come back in. Since they have put off dental care, these patients will probably need treatment. Treatment means time, and time is what you need to find in your schedule. Look for new ways you can add patients to your schedule and what tweaking you can do here and there, not only in the short term, but into the next six to nine months. Change up hygiene. Consider having a hygiene appointment last 50 minutes instead of one hour. That would bring in one additional patient a day for each hygienist working. Take that number and multiply it by the number of days you work a month, and this is how many additional patients you can accommodate each month. Believe me, it adds up. If you can’t see it, then you might need to hire a professional to help you. I highly recommend this—it will pay for itself tenfold.  Sometimes it takes a new set of eyes to see things clearly. 

Your staff

Do you have enough staff? If you are barely getting by with the staff you have now, then you probably need to look into hiring help before this rush begins. It’s crucial that you’re proactive; if you can’t hire another dental assistant or hygienist, then hire a hygiene assistant or sterilization technician. This could help turn over rooms faster and more efficiently, while allowing trained hygienists and dental assistants to focus on the work they’ve mastered.

Business team members are vital to every office; do you have enough? The business team will handle scheduling; new patient calls and paperwork; the revamped check-in procedure and wellness forms; dealing with insurance; processing patient payments; and the patient check-out process. The bottom line is: your staff needs to be in place and prepared for being busier than ever before.

Your doctor(s)

I suggest that you schedule a time to go over the upcoming schedule with your doctor and tell them what you are thinking about the anticipated rush of patients. Be prepared. Go in with a plan. When you meet with your doctor, present the schedule, your plan for staffing, and your thoughts and ideas on how you should prepare the office and your team. Together you can make a plan and put the plan in action. Be bold, be aggressive, be a manager! You must be ready.

Your patients

Take the time to step back and observe patient experience. Get a feel for the vibe of your practice. How does your office make patients feel? During these crazy times, we have had to put new COVID protocols into place—are they still working? Do you need to tweak these protocols? This point is extremely important, since patient experience is our top priority. Make sure that what you have been doing is still best for your patients. 


This is probably the most important one! You need to prepare yourself for the onslaught.   Make sure you’re taking the time to be the healthiest version of yourself. Get adequate sleep, eat healthy, exercise, meditate, or simply set aside some time for yourself during the week to do something you enjoy. This is crucial. If you are ready for the onslaught, then your staff and doctors will be ready too. Lead by example!

At the onset of the pandemic, none of us knew what we are doing. We sat down, listened, and investigated everything we had to do for our offices to survive this new, unprecendented situation. But we did it! We survived because we had a plan. Now is the time to get your postpandemic plan ready. Take action! You’ve got this!


  1. Kluger J. You may be surprised by the type of American who is postponing basic health care during the pandemic. Time magazine. February 23, 2021. https://time.com/5941599/basic-health-care-postponed-covid-19/
DEBBIE  EVANS, MAADOM, has been in the dental industry for almost 30 years, serving as practice administrator for Wainright & Wassel, DDS, in Raleigh, North Carolina, since 2005. A lifetime AADOM member, Debbie serves as co-president of the AADOM Triangle Chapter. She received her AADOM Fellowship in the fall of 2016 and her Mastership in September of 2020. Her AADOM Triangle Chapter is the largest chapter in the country, and has won “Chapter of the Year” for the last two years. Prior to being named the 2020 Practice Administrator of the Year, Debbie was recognized as an AADOM Practice Administrator with Distinction in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
About the Author

Debbie Evans

Debbie Evans is the practice administrator and vice president at Wainright & Wassel DDS, in Raleigh, North Carolina. She has been in the dental field for 27 years. She loves her chosen career and the practice is her second home. After studying Business Administration at the University of Florida, Debbie married Ron and they have two wonderful children, Ryan and Brittany. When the children were in school, she went to work for their family dentist. He needed help growing his practice, and asked Debbie to do it. In 2005, after 13 years of growing this practice, Ron and Debbie were transferred to Raleigh. This is when Debbie began her much-loved career at Wainright & Wassel DDS. She is very proud of being a founding board member and copresident of the AADOM Triangle chapter. She is a strong advocate of AADOM and wholeheartedly believes that it has helped her and the doctors increase the growth of the practice tremendously. They have gone from a two-doctor practice to a successful and busy four-doctor practice, and they recently purchased another office . Debbie is extremely passionate about dentistry, but her four adorable  grandchildren are the light of her life!