FYI

Dentist blog from Delta Dental

Tag: customer service (Page 1 of 2)

Need a vacation? 3 tips to keep in mind

If you’ve ever been deep into a root canal procedure and your mind drifts to the shores of Maui or the streets of Paris, you know you’re overdue for a vacation. And as summer approaches, those daydreams are just going to get worse.

But if you’re a solo practitioner — and three out of four dentists are, according to the American Dental Association — you know that if you’re on vacation, the money stops coming in. So what do you do? Work until you burn out?

Don’t give up on the idea of taking time off. Vacations are good for your mental health, and you need them to stay productive and keep your practice going. Luckily, there are some things you can do to make sure your practice doesn’t suffer because of some time off.

1. Find temporary workers

One thing to do during this time is to get temporary help. Some staffing agencies offer locum tenens dentists who can fill in for you while you’re gone. They’re available to work during maternity leave, vacations and illnesses and can work anywhere from a week or two to months or even years.

If you’ve been thinking of expanding your practice, a locum tenens dentist could audition for the role and become a temp-to-perm role for you. They can also help out during busy times, relieving some stress that you might be experiencing.

If you do get a temporary dentist to fill in for you, please let us know so there won’t be any issues with claims being submitted.

Don’t forget about your hygienists and support staff. They take vacations as well, but you can hire temporary workers to take their place during their time off.

2. Prepare early for your vacation

Not interested in someone taking your place? Then you’ll have to shut down for the duration of your vacation. Schedule your vacation at least six months in advance, because your staff will be making six-month appointments for patients who have just had a cleaning. Mark the time off on your appointment calendar so no patients can accidentally schedule anything while you’re gone.

Send out letters and emails to all your patients in advance, and make sure you announce on your website and on social media that the office will be closed. Prepare your voicemail to reflect the closure when you’re ready to leave.

Encourage your patients to schedule any complicated procedures well ahead of your vacation so they won’t need to contact you while on vacation if they need a follow-up visit.

3. Take mini-vacations

If you just can’t afford to take two weeks off at a time, treat yourself to some long weekends. Take the Friday off before Memorial Day for a fantastic four-day weekend, or take a few extra days around the holiday season to get some much-needed rest and relaxation. It may not be Maui or Paris, but it’ll do wonders for your mental health.

Glaucoma and its surprising connection to oral health

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Learn more about the diseases link to oral health and what you can do for your patients with glaucoma.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma occurs when a buildup of fluid causes pressure in the eyes to increase to abnormal levels, damaging the optic nerve. The resulting nerve damage causes partial or total blindness in the affected eye. After it occurs, this vision loss can’t be reversed, but early treatment to reduce eye pressure may reduce or halt the damage.

More than 3 million people in the United States have glaucoma, and the number of people who have the disease is expected to more than double by 2050, according to the National Eye Institute. While anyone, including children, can get glaucoma, the condition is most common in:

  • People over age 60
  • African Americans over age 40
  • People who have a family history of the disease

OK, but how is glaucoma connected to oral health?

Various studies suggest a connection between poor oral health and glaucoma. A 26-year study of more than 40,000 men over the age of 40 found a correlation between tooth loss and primary open-angle glaucoma.

The study found that the risk for glaucoma was 43% greater in men who had lost at least one tooth than those who didn’t lose any teeth. When periodontal disease was also factored in, the glaucoma risk for men with tooth loss increased to 86% higher than men with no tooth loss.

While the specific cause isn’t certain, researchers speculate that bacteria at the site of the tooth loss can cause inflammation, which triggers microbes and cytokines that can affect the eyes.

What can I do for my patients with glaucoma?

If you have patients who been diagnosed with glaucoma, here are few steps you can take to help control the condition and make their visit easier:

  • Determine whether you patients are at risk for the disease. Review patients’ personal and family medical history to see whether glaucoma runs in their family.
  • Be sure that patients with glaucoma or are at risk for the disease schedule regular dental cleanings. Preventive care not only helps improve the health of teeth and gums, it can also help improve patients’ overall health and help prevent conditions that lead to inflammation, which can contribute to worsening glaucoma.
  • Ensure that patients who have gum disease follow the treatment regimen you prescribe for them. Along with tooth loss, periodontitis has been linked to inflammation and other health problems
  • Choose sedatives carefully. Certain sedatives used during dental procedures contain ingredients that can increase pressure in the optic nerve.
  • Take steps to accommodate low-vision and blind patients. A few simple steps can make their visit and treatment easier and safer. Delta Dental can also translate written materials, such as plan information, to Braille or audio for blind and low-vision patients. Contact Customer Service to make this request with 72 hours’ notice.

Tips for caring for your blind and low-vision patients

October is Blindness Awareness Month and it’s the perfect time to reevaluate some of your accessibility practices. Approximately 12 million Americans over 40 are visually impaired, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those, 1 million are blind and 2 million have age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of low-vision and blindness among adults over 50. Additionally, studies have linked periodontal disease to retinal degeneration and certain oral bacteria to glaucoma

Not all visual impairments are obvious, so it’s important to offer options to your patients.

What you can do for your patients

Accessibility doesn’t necessarily mean big digital and office modifications. Being mindful of blind and low-vision patients and their needs can create a better dental experience for everyone involved. A little bit of awareness goes a long way in creating a safer and more dignified dental visit for your patient.

  • Need to remind a patient of an upcoming appointment? Text messages or email are often preferred methods. Paper reminders via mail are often not accessible for blind and low-vision patients.
  • During appointments, don’t assume that your patient is able to visually take in everything, such as X-rays. Verbally state any important information such as your name, what procedure you’re performing and anything else that should be known. Additionally, if you have to leave the room, let the patient know.
  • Tempting as it may be, guide dogs have an important job to do. If a patient arrives with a guide dog, understand that by petting it or offering treats, you may be interfering with it helping its owner. Always ask before approaching.
  • Even the simplest webpages can have coding that’s difficult for magnification and screen reader users. Make your website easier to use for blind and low-vision patients by using alt-text for images, being thoughtful with colors and choosing descriptive phrases for linking.
  • If you need to prescribe any medication to your patients, talk to them about how often they should take it and anything else they should know. Often times, side effects and other crucial information can be printed quite small.

Resources from Delta Dental

When your patients need a little extra help with their benefits, Delta Dental is here to help.

  • For any questions about their coverage, members can simply call 866-530-9675 and speak to a customer service representative.
  • Written materials, such as plan information, can be translated to Braille or audio for blind and low-vision patients. Contact customer service to request material translations.

All patients deserve equal care and dignity when receiving it. For more tips and resources, visit the American Foundation for the Blind.

Oral health resources for Spanish-speaking patients

As a dentist, you already know that language should never be a barrier to receiving proper care. One in seven people in the U.S. speaks Spanish at home, yet Hispanic adults with limited proficiency in English receive about one-third less health care than those proficient in English.

In taking steps to bridge this gap, Delta Dental offers a variety of language assistance options for both you and your Spanish-speaking patients.

Resources for the dental office

  • An English-to-Spanish phrase guide is easy to download and print. Keep this handy guide at your workstation for quick reminder on common questions and phrases that may arise during a dental appointment. The guide even includes pronunciation tips to help you communicate as efficiently as possible.
  • The Delta Dental online dentist directory includes languages spoken in the office. Keeping your office’s listing accurate and up to date helps Spanish-speaking members find the right dentist to fit their needs.
  • Interpretation services are also available for in-person dental appointments when a Spanish-speaking staff member isn’t an option. Letting your staff know about this service is a great way to proactively assist patients with limited English. To request this service, members should contact Customer Service at least 72 hours in advance of an appointment.

Resources for your patients

  • Our website, and all its offerings, can be found in Spanish. This includes plan information, wellness articles and even Grin! magazine and is a perfect introduction to Delta Dental for new patients.
  • Customer Service is available in Spanish when patients have questions about their insurance that you’re unable to answer. To talk to a representative, members can call 866-530-9675 and dial 8 when prompted. Answers to our most frequently asked questions are also available on our website.

Learn more about Delta Dental’s language assistance resources for dentists and how they can benefit your patients.

Callback Assist improves your customer service experience

We’re excited to offer a new feature that helps our customer service representatives better serve you. It’s called Callback Assist.

It works like this: When you call us to speak with a customer service representative (CSR), we’ll let you know what your approximate wait time is and give you the option to schedule a call back when a CSR becomes available. If you choose that option, we’ll confirm your phone number and hold your place in the queue.

Now, instead of having to wait on hold, you can hang up. When it’s your turn to speak to a CSR, we’ll call you back. And don’t worry; if you’re busy and can’t take the call immediately, we’ll make three attempts to contact you.

Callback Assist ensures that you’ll never have to wait on hold if you choose not to. You can call us even during peak hours and be assured you’ll always be able to get the service you need, making your interaction with Delta Dental more convenient and satisfying than ever.

Customer Service hours extended for California

Starting June 4, 2018, Delta Dental of California’s Customer Service representatives will be available until 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, Pacific time.

The new longer hours make it even more convenient for California dentists and staff to speak to a representative about their Delta Dental of California patients’ benefits and claims.

In California, Customer Service representatives will be available at 888-335-8227 from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., Pacific time. Our automated services continue to be available 24/7. For other regional Customer Service phone numbers and hours, visit the Contact Us page on our website.

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