How to Take Ownership & Transition to Teledentistry During COVID-19

healthcare digital marketing podcast episode with dr. joseph dastrup

Healthcare Digital Marketing Podcast

This episode of the Healthcare Digital Marketing Podcast focuses on how COVID-19 is affecting Dr. Dastrup and his dental practice. We discuss how Dr. Dastrup of Dastrup Dental is communicating with his staff and his patients and how he is utilizing teledentistry and marketing mediums to keep his practice moving forward.

Lamar Hull: All right, Dr. Dastrup. Thanks for taking the time out of your day to really just add value to the dental community. We would love to just open up and really just understand how Covid-19 has impacted your business model and operations, especially your Davidson practice. So really, before we get into it, I just want to open up and let you introduce yourself. 

Dr. Dastrup: Yeah, Dr. Joe Dastrup, Dental Practice in Davidson. I’ve been there for about four years, private practice and having a good time at it. I didn’t expect this Covid-19 stoppage, but here we are and we gotta deal with it. 

Lamar Hull: Yeah, exactly. Just correct me if I’m wrong. You spent a lot of time in Maryland. Is that right? 

Dr. Dastrup: So I went to school in Maryland. I was there for about five years. I practiced in Colorado, as well, Utah, and then here. So I kind of bounced around before we put down some roots, but, now living in Huntersville though, love it. It’s great. 

Lamar Hull: How did you get the Davidson area? Because I went to Davidson College. I love Davidson. That area, Huntersville, is amazing. So, how do you transition from Colorado and other states? 

Dr. Dastrup: It’s funny how Davidson kept coming up. We were looking. You know, we kind of wanted to come back east, somewhere warmer and be by water. So that was some of our criteria. We watched one of those HGTV shows. I can’t remember what it was called, but Davidson was one of the towns that they were shopping homes in, you know? And so, that was I think our first exposure. When we came out, we didn’t know the area well. South Charlotte, North Charlotte, that sort of thing. But, then we drove to this part of Davidson, and I just remember, I took a picture of it in my mind. Whoa, this place is, this town is so cool, you know? I had no idea that in probably a year and a half that I’d be buying a practice right there, right where I had taken that mental image. So I don’t know. You know they say things just work out, but yeah, I love Davidson and I just love the area really. It’s a great area. 

Lamar Hull: Nice. Nice. That’s awesome. So I guess even though you’re in Davidson, do you want to talk because you also have another practice in the Rock Hill area. 

Dr. Dastrup: I do, yeah. Last October, I bought another practice in Rock Hill. So, I’m learning the ropes of owning two practices and it’s a fun time to do that for sure.

Lamar Hull: A lot of fun times with the whole country shut down. 

Dr. Dastrup: Yeah, like we were getting the ball rolling and bam. 

How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Practice?

Lamar Hull: Yeah, and I think that’s a good transition to the country shutting down with Covid-19. How has that specifically impacted either of those practices? We really want to understand where you are now with the Davidson or Rock Hill location.

Dr. Dastrup: Well you know, leading up to it, you didn’t know what was coming. There was a lot of fear. Like, okay, my overhead’s pretty high each month. This thing could mess me up pretty quickly. But it’s been really encouraging as the dental communities come together, all the resources out there. If we put our heads together and if we think about this, we can kind of make it through it. I think most offices had to lay off their staff and, you know, that was a hard thing to do. They’re like family, you know, But, it is stressful, as they still work through that unemployment thing, trying to actually get benefits and that sort of thing, the promised federal things. So that’s been stressful. But, this is the reality. 

It’s nice that banks are willing to work with you and other people just postponing payments. Just get as lean as you can, as fast as you can. Have a plan, like, can I get a line of credit from a bank, and, you know, these EIDL and PPP loans. What’s gonna happen if this does go 90 days? How can I make this work and not ruin everything we worked years for? 

Current Mindset

Lamar Hull: That’s awesome. I’d also like to ask to that point so you mentioned that a lot of the dental professionals in the dental communities really put their heads together. Is there one thing that you would say has really helped? Your mindset or an operational side of things? Or just overall, your practice based on something you may have not known before this time frame?

Dr. Dastrup: A lot of it has been navigating and advice of this is what you have to do to get through, whether it’s dental advisor firms or accounting firms, there’s information overload now, like a billion webinars. It’s kind of a crazy thing, my inbox has three times more emails every day that I’m trying to sift through. I’m kind of getting tired of it to tell you the truth. But the mindset, it’s like a roller coaster, you know? You have these times where you’re thinking I am going to come back so strong, and then the next day, you’re starting to start doubt. 

I think you just really have to stay positive and say this is the situation that we’re faced with and everyone’s faced with this. We’re gonna get through it. How can we maximize our time now? How do we maximize once it gets going again. What is it going to be like? What kind of PPE are we going to have to wear? You start seeing these suction units that are right there next to the patient’s mouth. You know, they run about $3000. We used to think this is what the holistic dentists did to safely remove amalgam. But, is this going to be our new reality? Are we gonna be covered head to toe? How can we calm our patients and tell them this is safe? 

There’s been a decent amount of negative press as far as dental offices and the aerosols that they create, even for a cleaning which is probably where the most aerosols are created. So, yeah, what will the new normal be? I don’t know that we know that. We all want it to go back to the way we knew it. But, having a plan, keeping an eye out, and saying, alright, I kind of know these are possibilities and don’t jump too soon, but know these are things that I might have to do to make my practice work again.

Preparing the Office for Covid-19 Measures 

Lamar Hull: Right. I think part of the mindset that’s so key that you mentioned is really staying positive just being educated in the forerun, but then also planning still during this timeframe. Because at the end of this, when Covid-19 is over, you want to have some momentum that you could take off and run on. Yeah, you’re gonna miss some of the beat, but you’ll be in position to capture the market for sure. I guess for you, how are you currently keeping your practices safe in terms of it? Has it changed based on what you were doing before Covid-19? Or, is this kind of the same protocols and procedures to keep your practice safe? 

Dr. Dastrup: We tried to stay open. The goal was to stay open as long as we could. We started implementing things right away, communicating with the patients. I sent out an email to the patients saying these aren’t new things. First of all, we’re trained in this, when we go through the flu season, we go through the cold season. Every single year, we understand bacteria, viruses, how to deal with these things, and cross contamination.

Yeah, I think we’re pretty good at this. Yeah, this new thing, we don’t know a lot about it. It’s more easily spread than the flu. But, we’re not fearful going to work. Like, am I gonna get the flu and am I going to spread the flu? We know how to deal with this so that I think I got a lot of good feedback from that. But, in addition, these are things that were going to do. We’re going to do the proximal wrench because that’s proven to oxidize the virus. Take temperature. Screen people. At that point, it was kind of this have you traveled or that sort of thing? I think now we have to treat everybody as potentially infected, contagious, or been around that. It’s hard. I mean, is the temperature really going to tell you that some of these people are asymptomatic carriers? 

So, from over washing hands. you can see my skin, my fingers. I got all this dermatitis going on? I think in your mind, you are a little bit more aware which is good, which is a good thing. But I think staying in touch with the patients, we continue to send out emails. They know that we’re available for them if they need to be seen. 

We’re trying to implement teledentistry. I think this is a really big opportunity to get that system in place because it really makes you realize you don’t always need that patient to come in the office to do a followup. Can you schedule that in a time where you jump on a Zoom call or or something like that and take care of what you need to take care of? Frees up our time, frees up their time. I think it helps with communication. 

So taking advantage of the situation that’s presented to us and saying, okay, how can we come out of this and be more efficient? Invisalign, they launched the virtual consoles and it makes you start to think, okay, maybe I don’t need to see someone for a quick check every so often. We can just jump on a zoom. Five minutes I can tell that the liners are tracking well. Get them their next series and go from there. You don’t have to schedule that 30 minutes or 20 minutes or whatever you would schedule and set up a room and that sort of thing. So those are things I think that we can take from this and have time to implement the system and use it afterwards. Before this, I didn’t really pay attention to teledentistry, but it’s opened my eyes to say, you really could do this and it will help you be more efficient and reach patients and that sort of thing. 

Leadership and Staying Positive

Lamar Hull: That’s awesome. And I think part of that, too, is you’re opening up a new service that can expand outside of your locations. Because if a patient wants to see you, but they’re one or two hours away and they necessarily don’t want to travel, then this could be an opportunity for them to do a virtual consultation.

So I think that definitely can open up your region, your audience, for sure. You talk about engaging with your customers through different marketing mediums, communication mediums such as email and so forth. How are you staying engaged with your team? I know you’re doing more emergency based needs. You’re doing virtual consultation, teledentistry. Are you staying engaged with your team to keep them motivated? 

Dr. Dastrup: Keeping them motivated? That’s a good question. If the promised unemployment comes through, they might not want to come back to work. They might not want to jump in on a zoom call or anything for that matter. Let’s take a nice break. You know, that’s a nice vacation. So that’s been a little bit challenging. But, I continue to reach out through text message or phone call.

Yesterday, we did have a group webinar where we were learning something as a team. Then afterwards, they jumped on my zoom room. We talked, administered thoughts and that sort of thing. It’s fun seeing our team. You know? They are like family. We spend more than eight hours a day with them. So yeah, I’ve been in contact with every team member. I kind of know how they’re doing and ask them, what do you need? I think this is a time where we can show them. Hey, this is hard for all of us. There’s no money coming in the practice or very little, but I’m here for you. I want you to know that if you need something, I’m gonna do what I can to help you through it. 

Lamar Hull: I think that also shows just your leadership as well. I do notice you spend a lot of time really focusing on continually educating yourself. So you’re focused on sleeping and the way you’re breathing right now. Then also, you focus on a lot of the root causes to dental issues and concerns. I loved your video on Facebook with the actor Matthew McConaughey and how he talked about just really staying positive. Also, this is a time where people can have that human touch again and human feeling perspective versus kind of just moving at a fast pace as you deal with relationships that you’re involved in. So I think that shows a lot of your leadership, your characteristics with the content you’re posting online as well. So talk about, from a leadership standpoint, how are you continually staying in tune to how you can grow in that capacity? 

Dr. Dastrup: Well, I had a friend a couple of years ago, he’s a good friend of mine. Couple years ago, he made a bad investment, and he lost, like, $100,000. That was a substantial amount for him at that time, and he sat there and he’s like, am I going to let this define my life? Am I going to let this ruin me? It was in that moment that he decided that it wasn’t going to define his life and it’s amazing. I think it’s been four years or five years, but what he’s done since then. He’s in real estate. But, what he’s done since then just blows my mind.

So I think of that. Is this going to define me? I bought a second practice in October. Probably not the best time, could have been a little worse. But, can you just sit back and say I’m done or can you look and say, how can I come back stronger? Social media, we haven’t had the biggest emphasis on that, but this gives this time to engage with people. I love Instagram. I saw so many other dentists on there, and you get other ideas that steal from their creativity as well. And, if you’re a little camera shy, I know it’s hard to get in front of your camera and start talking. But people, patients, it’s a good way that they can get to know you. You know, who you are as a person, how do you deal with challenges that they’re dealing with, things you’re doing with your kids, what you’re doing with the family, that sort of thing. So, lots of opportunities to take advantage. 

Making the Most of Downtime

Lamar Hull: That’s awesome. If you now look back over the last couple weeks, you’ve had a lot of time to think just from the operations side of things and or even just for the practice or practices as a whole. Is there one thing you would say right now to any other dentists in terms of how you’re thinking about efficiency? Are there things in your practice that you’re like now that I have a little bit of downtime, I can really focus on making this more efficient for better either processes or customer care or team development? Just would love to get your advice on that. 

Dr. Dastrup: Well, yeah, we have time right now. Where when you’re running the practice, you’re seeing patients, you know 8 to 5. Maybe getting a lunch or a short lunch answering some emails during lunch. You go home. You know you have sports activities with your kids or what have you. Then, it’s 9 o’clock and you’re like, okay, am I going to watch a show with my wife or am I going to work on these systems and processes. So, if we’re not taking advantage of this time, I mean, yeah, this is kind of crappy that our practices are closed and that we’re not making any money. But, we’ve got time and so we’ll never have this opportunity again, even if it’s just a couple of days and a few things. I wrote out a list of everything I wanted accomplished in the downtime, and I’m going to share it with people.

My realization is, I think, I’m going to get to maybe 15% of that list because I was overzealous. But, those sorts of things. Okay. Today’s Wednesday. Today, I’m going to accomplish this, this, and this that I’ve been putting off forever. Look at, this is my system, how do we deal with new patients? This is a system currently in place. How can we improve the system to better engage with these people? Those sorts of things. But also, I think if you just said, I just want to be out with family all the time. I don’t think there’s anything bad about that either. I need to do a little bit more of that, just take advantage of that. Be present with my kids and my wife as well. Keep balanced. 

Adding Teledentistry and New Services

Lamar Hull: Yeah, that’s good feedback as well. From a marketing standpoint, so I know you’re focused on emergency dentistry but then also teledentistry. Talk through that because what I’m seeing in the dental space is a lot of dentists are closing down completely. Maybe they can’t offer teledentistry or they just don’t know how. Can you talk through what your process was with setting up teledentistry and how you’re operating with communicating virtually with patients?

Dr. Dastrup: Yeah, I’m trying to see, how can we streamline? How can we streamline this because I feel like this is something that we’re gonna continue after our offices are back.

So I am trying a few different platforms and trying to find ease of use for patients. So, was one. That is pretty easy in that you send a link attached to an email. They click on a link and basically check into your waiting room. So I mean, very easy. You don’t need to download Zoom on your iPhone or Zoom on your computer or have a login. You click on a link and then you’re in my virtual reception area, and it’s kind of a conversation like this. They had a setup. You can pay or it’s free. But, if you want to pay a premium, which isn’t too much, then you can collect payment through that. There’s other things. You can send text reminders through that, that sort of thing. 

The other avenue that I’m trying is with a calendar, so calendly or Set up a calendar and then there’s a link. If the patient calls, you tell them that link and then they can see what are your available times. Dr. D is available Tuesday morning from 9 to noon for 30 minute slots. They pick that. There’s a link, and then when that time comes, we jump on the Zoom call. So, those are a few. Those are the two that I’ve decided to kind of play with and figure out what works best. And I think your patients, they just know, okay, if I break a tooth or if I have a problem, you’re going to be there for me, you know? I think it’s an opportunity to reach out to others that maybe their dentist has closed. Or, I can’t get a hold of them. They need someone. 

So currently my calls kind of forward to my front desk receptionist. Sometimes I go to voicemail. I do think it would be more effective if someone was there to pick up the phone all the time, but now you’re doing what they could be on unemployment. They make money not working or get help from the government not working or they can work and get less from unemployment. That system’s not helping us too much in this regard and you want to be honest and not shady things in that regard either. So that’s a little bit of a challenge.

Lamar Hull: I think still offering that again allows you to show patients that you do care and you’re there for them, even during this time frame. So, you are offering emergency dental care as well? 

Dr. Dastrup: Yes, we are, and we’ve just recently started a little campaign that if someone goes and looks for that, they might see us on Google ads and call. I mean, I know that I don’t personally know what a toothache feels like, but I had enough experience with other people that they say it’s worse than having a kid. All kinds of things. Right? So, can we take out teeth? I mean, let’s say we’re a little shaky at taking out teeth, but we want to, you know? I think it’s a good time to jump in and do some things. Can we do root canals now that maybe we refer out just to get them out of pain, maybe not finish the whole root canal but get them out of pain and they’ll be back. That sort of thing. If you’re there for someone in the time of need, they become a patient, a loyal patient. They bring their friends and that sort of thing. So I think we need to be thoughtful of that for sure. 

Google My Business and Digital Marketing

Lamar Hull: Yeah, that’s a good point because when it comes to pain, it’s not just going to magically go away. So, if it’s an emergency I’m having that alternative, even though we’re in stay-at-home measures and we’re quarantined currently, I think if it makes sense to relieve that pain, having an emergency dentist available is a viable option as well. One quick thing, I’m gonna share my screen with you.

So just for the audience, you just start working with Med Rank and my team from a digital marketing standpoint. But Google just announced not too long ago, this is your Google My Business profile and they’ve added two additional features to the backend of the profile where you can put in a Covid-19 info link. So that’s a link where it could be a landing page on your website. It could be a letter to your patients about your current situation. You’re operational hours and what you’re offering currently, such as virtual dentistry and then also emergency dental care. So, there could be a link inserted here. But then also, now that you’re offering teledentistry, you could add this virtual teledentistry link here as well on your website.

A part of the marketing strategy will also be creating call-to-actions on the website. So you know, now offering teledentistry, but that leads into a landing page with content about what you’re providing during this time frame. The beauty of that is, if someone’s searching, let’s say, if they go to Google and they’re searching for immediate care or dental emergency, you’re going to get a leg up on all the other dentists in Davidson and Rock Hill if this information is added here because Google’s looking at relevant at this point, so it’s very relevant. So part of the marketing strategy will be, I know you kind of just launched your new website for your Davidson practice, but having that information added on the site but then also added here because it’s going to add value to what the users are currently searching for.

Then, one other quick thing I’ll show you is right now telehealth, teledentistry. So, this is the keyword “telehealth.” If you look even back in April 2019 and all the way to January 2019, it’s been a pretty flat line in terms of how many people search for these types of keywords. Obviously, it’s enhanced dramatically because of the circumstances we’re in. But what’s going to happen is, as this continues to climb and how people search, to your point about really understanding how to maximize the opportunity to be able to create services or other value propositions to your business and your customers. Long term, this could be a viable option because that’s what they’re searching for or will start searching for more of. So that’s interesting to see that curve and it’s definitely going up. But, we’ll continue to watch this after things are back to normal and we can kind of see how to market teledentistry so to speak.

I just wanted to show you that because I think it’s very interesting to see. But then, also, from a Google My Business standpoint opportunity to maximize the landscape during this time frame as well. 

Dr. Dastrup: Yeah, thanks for sharing that. I’m gonna take advantage of that most definitely. In telehealth or teledentistry, change is hard and sometimes you just don’t want to try something new because we don’t think it will work. But, here we’re forced into it, and we really don’t have an option. As you start looking at it, you start realizing, hey, I can use this later on as well. You know that whether it be a Friday that we’re not in the office, but we take an hour and we do some consults or that sort of thing. How do you make those consults bring in high dollars?

Is it a smile makeover type of thing? Is it a follow up to some large cases that you presented in the office? Maybe they and their spouse could be there. Or, you could do it at 6 o’clock or 7 o’clock at night and they can both be there. They can see that you’re a confident, competent caring person. What does it take to make them take that next step? 

What Are You Excited For Post-COVID?

Lamar Hull: So really, last two questions for you, Dr. Dastrup. I know we’re in an uncertain time. Everyone’s scared at the moment because we just don’t know what’s next and what’s the future for our situation. But, what are you most excited about thinking about us kind of transitioning from this how things used to be to this new normal? 

Dr. Dastrup: Well, I’m excited just to get back to work, Lamar. I’ll be honest. Yes, certainly, sometimes I’m not getting out of bed before 8:30 or 9:00. Wow, this can be hard when we have to do this, but I’m excited to get back to work. I mean, I love what I do. I love my team. I love my patients. So I’m looking forward to that. I hope that there is a new norm. I mean it’s gonna be a little bit different, but I hope it’s not too crazy, that we can kind of do things how we did, but a little bit more efficient.

Just take this time to see, how do we reach our patients better. We’ve kind of started this ball rolling through social media, that sort of thing. How can we carry that on because I think that that’s what people want? That’s what draws them to you. 

Lamar Hull: Right, right. I think that’s awesome. This is an encouraging interview because I feel like your mindset and the way you’re thinking about the now and the future is going to be so impactful for the communities that you’re involved in. If a dentist was watching this, what would be one encouraging word of advice you would give a dentist, maybe it’s a young dentist that wants to start his own practice or buy a new practice. What advice would you give him during this time frame? 

Dr. Dastrup: Well, I mean I faced the demons, I think every day trying to keep my mind right. Doubt creeps in and that sort of thing, and you have your ups and your downs. But, any advice to anyone young, just, just do it. I think you’ll see that if you listen to the negative and really listen to that too much, it’s just going to bring you down. But, just do it. You’re going to be successful. You’re going to figure it out. Yeah, it’s going to be hard. It’s going to be harder than you think it is. But, that being said, if you don’t own a practice, actually right now you’re not working.

Take this time. Start some of the systems. What are some of the systems that you want in your practice that you like where you’ve been, where you’ve previously been. What are some of those systems? Because if you buy that practice, I mean things start going crazy, you’re just like, okay I have to get payroll in. What? This.That. All this stuff, and it’s just a whirlwind. So take this time. These are my clinical procedures. This is how I like it. This is how I like it done. So much opportunity to learn. Invest in yourself, C.E. I could spend 25 hours a day learning the stuff that’s available out there.

So, jump in and just set a goal. I’m going to do two hours a day in C.E. and work on this system today, this system tomorrow. and this clinical manual. That sort of thing. Take advantage of the time. 

Lamar Hull: Awesome. Well, Dr. Dastrup, I appreciate all the valuable insights that you provided and they can check your website out at You have an amazing following on your Facebook page as well, so check him out there. I’m Lamar with Med Rank Interactive and we appreciate you guys watching and look forward to seeing you next time. Thank you. 

Dr. Dastrup: Thank you, Lamar.


For more from our chat with Dr. Dastrup of Dastrup Dental, check out our podcast. For additional information or help with online healthcare marketing for your medical or dental practice, contact our experienced, professional team at Med Rank Interactive. Schedule a consultation and let us help grow your business.

Podcast link:–3—Dr–Dastrup-Discusses-Teledentistry–How-to-Take-Ownership-During-COVID-19-ecruhq