Below are eight recommendations from the ADA that can be used for screening patients in advance of their office visit. Some of the recommendations may need to be adapted to fit your preferred method of communication for collecting patient information prior to their office visit.
1. Identify yourself, the office and doctor’s name and ask to speak to the patient or the patient’s parent or legal guardian.
2. After explaining the purpose of the call, proceed with asking the questions that are on the patient screening form.
3. Responses that end in “Yes” would likely indicate a deeper discussion with the doctor before proceeding with dental treatment.
4. Inform patients that these questions will be repeated when they arrive at the office in order to ensure nothing has changed since the phone call. You should also inform them that their temperature will also be taken upon arrival.
5. Remind parents or guardians to limit companions on their trip in order to reduce the number of extra people in the reception area.
6. Inform patients that they will be required to wear a mask except when undergoing treatment.
7. If patients seem reluctant in any way, reassure them that it is being done for their health, as well as that of the other patients being seen in the office, the doctor and the staff, and anyone else they may encounter.
8. If you need to leave a voicemail or are sending a text message, ask the patient to call the office prior to their appointment for their preliminary screening. You can also upload the questionnaire and instructions to your website for them to fill out.
Helpful Tips for Your Practice
1. If suitable given your office design, consider having your patients wait in the car and you can call or text them to enter your practice. This isn’t practical for every practice, so use your own judgment. For patients who use other forms of transportation, it’s best to devise a plan and provide instructions for entering your practice before their appointment.
2. Consider asking patients to bring their own pen to use.
3. If a patient needs to cancel due to illness, consider waiving any cancellation fees that may exist.