The Delta Variant and Why You Should Consider Switching to a Virtual Waiting Room

The COVID-19 pandemic has made a significant impact since its inception and, unfortunately, doesn’t show signs of stopping any time soon. The virus’ most detrimental variant yet, the Delta variant, has proven itself to be highly contagious—it’s more than two times as infectious and dangerous as previous variants.

According to CDC experts,“in two different studies from Canada and Scotland, patients infected with the Delta variant were more likely to be hospitalized than patients infected with Alpha or the original virus that causes COVID-19. Even so, the vast majority of hospitalization and death caused by COVID-19 are in unvaccinated people.” 

With the general volatility of the pandemic, coupled with the potential for other unpredictable universal viruses, it’s hard to anticipate what could happen in the next several months. For dental practices preparing for the foreseeable future, a virtual waiting room is a smart option to consider. This is a way to help your practice prepare for another national emergency or similar lockdown situation, while simultaneously safeguarding your patients and prioritizing their health.

The benefits of a virtual waiting room

A virtual waiting room is essentially a remote opportunity for patients to check into their appointments so they don’t have to sit in front of your physical office. A well-organized virtual waiting room uses a digital platform to text patients instructions to get ready for their appointments and then notifies them when their care provider is ready to assist. Then, your patients can come to the front desk and be immediately escorted back to the chair for their appointment. 

Beyond the convenience factor for patients, the benefits of the virtual waiting room range far and wide. Some of those include:

Increased patient safety 

Patients don’t have to worry about sitting near other people who may pose a risk to their health. While the COVID-19 crisis started the conversation about social distancing, it’s become more important than ever for people to stay away from others if they’re feeling under the weather. Unfortunately, someone with COVID — and other illnesses — can be asymptomatic, so it’s not always helpful just to tell patients to stay home when they’re not feeling well. A virtual waiting room keeps all patients’ health protected.

Improved patient satisfaction 

In most cases, patients enjoy their privacy before going in for an appointment. Some may even feel more comfortable waiting in their cars. Offering a virtual waiting room can improve patient satisfaction as you take their time and comfort seriously. According to a survey by the International Virtual Reality Healthcare Association, 61 percent of patients said that in their experience with a virtual waiting room, time spent in their cars before an appointment wasn’t only shorter than the traditional waiting method, but it was also shorter than their overall in-person visit.

Some patients may also be more satisfied with your practice in general, as you are taking great measures to protect them from potential outbreaks. With 71 percent of patients admitting that they were scared to visit a doctor’s office in 2020 due to COVID-19, taking precautionary measures to keep your patients safe can be a major plus from their perspective.

Reduced staff frustration and improved workflow

The virtual waiting room isn’t only beneficial to patients visiting your practice — it can be highly advantageous to your front office staff as well. Since the virtual waiting room works from an automated system leveraging text messaging, your staff members will be freed up to focus on other tasks at hand, such as dental insurance acceptance, assisting emergency patients and attending to calls and questions from patients over the phone.

Preparing for the future

New variations of the coronavirus remain a threat to typical business practices that simply are not prepared. Instead of shutting down for days, weeks or potentially months on end, having a plan in place to keep patients in your office and continue business as usual is critical to the wellness of your patients and staff. A virtual waiting room is the next step to helping your patients experience a safe and satisfactory appointment in your practice.

The Digital Stream Carestream Dental Blog Administrator