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Smile Brands built its reputation with a strong people-first culture. When the coronavirus pandemic struck, the Smile Brands team created a series of rapid response strategies designed to take care of their team members and their patients.


Matthew Zubiller is the Chief Growth Officer at Smile Brands, a dental support organization with almost 450 affiliated practices and 60 brands in 18 states. In this interview with Patient Prism CEO Amol Nirgudkar, Matt shares how Smile Brands assimilates new information every day to quickly respond to the challenges brought on by COVID-19.


Goal: Help Team Members through the Coronavirus Crisis

COVID-19 suddenly brought general dentistry to a standstill. The Smile Brands leadership team quickly reacted, identifying the information that team members would need to take care of themselves and their families.

They created a COVID-19 Resources page on their website with links to employee resources including state unemployment sites, 401k guidance, and a Frequently-Asked Questions guide.

Another section featured office resources including door signs, patient safety handouts, messaging for patient emails, voicemail scripts, instructions for remote workers, and safety videos including how to put on and take off N95 masks and other PPE.

“There are people who are called to serve when patients need them. So how do we prepare them for that mission?” said Matt Zubiller. “One of the first decisions we made other than having our affiliated offices stay open was making investments in PPE. We did all we could to make sure we had the right masks and face shields. We went to our partners and our suppliers to help us because it was important to us.”


Goal: Communicate with the Team

Communication is a cornerstone of a great workplace culture, and the Smile Brands team made it a top priority at every step of the coronavirus response.

“We believe effective communication is needed at all times, not just during a crisis,” said Matt. “We are on daily calls. We have a daily newsletter that goes out every morning at 6 a.m. and we have video calls every week with our leadership. Even yesterday, we had 37 submitted questions during our conference call and we made sure each one was answered. And trust me, they were tough questions. But you’ve got to have transparency, you’ve got to have peer communication, and you’ve got to have safety and support.”

Smile Brands worked with furloughed employees to help them take advantage of the company’s paid time off policies and helped them navigate local and state services. Furloughed employees still had health care through Smile Brands.


Goal: Keep Dental Patients out of the Emergency Room

Like many practices, the Smile Brands family of affiliated practices quickly pivoted from providing general dentistry and specialty services to providing emergency dental services.

Many practices offered extended hours and opened on Saturdays and Sundays so they could serve emergency dental patients.


Goal: Launch Teledentistry to Connect with Patients

Smile Brands also assisted dental groups with launching a teledentistry solution at smilebrands.com/teledentistry and highlighted their teledentistry service on the individual dental office websites.

As Chief Growth Officer, Matt Zubiller has been gathering information and providing it to the practice owners so they can determine ways to leverage teledentistry beyond evaluating dental emergencies.

Here are some of the way the dental practices may use teledentistry:

  • Answering questions about treatment plans
  • Post-op follow-ups
  • Orthodontic check-ups
  • Pre-visit fact-finding to make in-office visits more efficient
  • Schedule optimization
  • Triaging dental emergencies


Goal: Recognize Healthcare Heroes

Smile Brands has its own dental plan and created premium allocation for dentists and team members taking care of patients during a pandemic. Now Smile Brands is asking other payers across the country to do the same.

Smile Brands has asked other industry partners to participate in a Dental Heroes Pledge to reward the team members who are on the front lines right now.

The executive team is also working with the manufacturers of COVID-19 antibody and antigen tests so that team members and patients can receive point-of-care testing.


Goal: Re-Emerge Safely

As dental practices start to reopen, the Smile Brands support team along with its clinical partners will evaluate data on a daily basis to identify and implement improvements and changes.

It’s ordering PPE, talking to experts around the industry, and communicating with its team members about what is happening in each state.

And Smile Brands is still growing through acquisitions and strategic partnerships.

“We’re really are about helping each other and being collaborative,” said Matt. The relationships we build are based on what our goals are, what we’re trying to achieve, and talking about ways we may be able to support each other to achieve a win-win and Smiles for Everyone. That’s very much at the heart of what I do.”


Additional Resources

For more interviews with experts, training resources, and guides, visit Academy.PatientPrism.com.

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