Stronger and Safer Together – How One DSO is Welcoming Patients Back

Group Dentistry Now recently sat down with Dr. Craig Saltzman, CEO of Affinity Dental Management, Inc., to discuss their new patient safety protocol. The growing group supports 40 general and specialty dental practices, providing comprehensive practice management and administrative support services for practices across Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and Vermont. They know what they’re doing at Affinity as they were recently added to the INC 5000 list of Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies.

The team at Affinity Dental Management (ADM) has worked countless hours in preparation for what will be the safest and smoothest dental experience in the “new normal.” (Don’t miss their patient safety video below.)

GDN: Tell us what steps Affinity took early on when the COVID crisis first hit your region:
We worked to notify our patients right away by adding website content and also increased patient email and text communications. On the employee side, we worked with staff to develop plans and operational changes during the shutdown and put together a company wide online resource center for every employee to access and find information pertaining to their benefits and new safety updates as they rolled out.

GDN: As you are reopening your practices tell us about your patient communication
CS: We started our patient communications once we were confident that we had a solid safety plan in place. First, the Affinity team developed an Interim Guidance for Minimizing Risk of Covid-19 Transmission, which was created with our clinical staff in mind. It was important to us that before even considering hosting patients back in our practices, that we would need to make our staff as safe and confident as possible. The guide outlined best practices and protocol in three sections: Before treating a patient, while treating a patient, and finally, after dental care is provided. By focusing on those areas with precise thought and detail, we could be successful in providing our staff with the safest layers of protection.

After we defined the new office visit on the clinical end, we were then able to take a look from the patient perspective. We analysed how patients felt about dental care by conducting a thorough survey in all four states. The results were fairly consistent across the board, and the data we were able to collect was extremely helpful. We found that the majority of patients, close to 90%, felt comfortable returning to the dentist for regular, non-emergency appointments, once they reviewed our layers of protection.

GDN: How are you handling (rescheduling) missed hygiene appts during the shutdown.
CS: We have been in contact with all patients who had appointments to reschedule them.

GDN: How did you communicate with your teams during the crisis?
CS: Throughout the entire crisis, ADM held weekly voluntary “Town Hall” style zoom meetings. The meetings covered everything from new safety additions, HR questions. It acted as a forum for Q & As. ADM also hosted weekly Zoom social meet-ups to keep teams connected, as well as morning coffee hour breaks to spend time with one another.

GDN: How do your docs and hygienists feel about coming back to work during the crisis?
CS: We also surveyed our employees for feedback around their confidence and comfort with new safety protocols. Prior to reopening, clinical staff were required to have N95 fit tests and complete a back to work quiz to show that they had become familiar with the new protocols and safety standards. With those safety measures in place, our staff could only return if they felt comfortable with their own safety.

GDN: Tell us about your patient safety protocols.
CS: We have worked to get all of our practices integrated with online, digital forms so that patients can submit paperwork prior to their appointments, rather than paper handling and spending additional time in office. We have also integrated online payments and online appointments to increase patient and staff safety and convenience.

GDN: Tell us a bit about your most recent affiliation with Concerned Dental Center (CDC) and how that integration is going.
CS: Our affiliation with CDC took place only one month prior to the pandemic, however we’ve managed to join teams and continue with integrations remotely via online meetings. The pandemic has in a way forced the industry in general to become better communicators and problem solvers.

GDN: What is your outlook for the dental industry?
CS: The dental industry has always had strong infection control and universal precautions. We have learned from this pandemic and it has strengthened our industry even further. The team at ADM is confident that we are able to operate with safety as a #1 priority.

GDN: Does Affinity have plans to add additional practices in 2020/21?
CS: First, our plans are to focus on our patients with our current practices to make sure that we are operating smoothly. We feel that if we do everything that we can to follow the guidelines we’ve created successfully, then we will be ready to continue with our practice expansions.

Read more articles on Affinity Dental Management here:

Watch our podcast with Dr. Craig Saltzman, CEO of Affinity Dental Management, and Amy Cadieux, Integrations Manager at Affinity Dental Management, who talk integration and share some of their secrets of success. If you are looking to understand integration for your dental group or DSO, this podcast is for you! 

View Affinity Dental Management’s listing on – Careers / Affiliations

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