Interview with Dr. Jorge Jimenez during COVID-19

Dr. Jorge JimenezDr. Jorge Jimenez is the owner of the Circle Dental Group clinic in Los Algodones, Mexico. He is a dentist and oral surgeon with more than 17 years of working experience. He has been on WhatClinic for more than 9 years and has received thousands of inquiries from international patients. We reached out to him to learn more about how he is managing his dental office during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to keep his business running.

Q: Mexico is a popular dentistry destination, for international patients. Every year, many Americans and Canadians choose to travel to Mexico for dental treatment because of the quality of services at a great price. How much traveling restrictions, due to the pandemic, have affected your dental clinic?

Traveling restrictions have affected us greatly. In fact, our target radius for possible patients is the only one that can be traveled by car. Additionally, we have dealt with some border issues. Only US residents are allowed to enter the US. The way this affected us is by not being able to offer our shuttle transportation service. Which is important to many of our patients.

Q: Are there any restrictions in Mexico regarding dental offices during the pandemic? If yes, how these restrictions affected your operations?

Yes. We do have some restrictions. In Mexico, dental offices we are asked not to open for business unless it is an emergency. However, dentistry is a ‘medical service’. During the month of April, our office was scheduled to open for 8 days. Many other dental offices in our area were closed every day. Truly, we felt fortunate to have a little bit of business.

Q: What changes have you made to stay in business during the pandemic?

Like most everyone else we have become experts in giving online consultations. With the help of some great email designs and visual tools, this becomes a much easier and fun task. We offer consultations at no charge. We also had cut back on medical staff by alternating shifts. However, we doubled up on facilitators to help us with the sales. I have worked with My Medical Destination for 10 years and they take care of my business as much as I do.

Q: When the lockdown was announced, how did patients, who had booked an appointment, react? They were asking for cancellation or a reschedule?

90% of our booked patients (new) canceled. All of them said they would contact us later. Only a couple of them rescheduled. But, in both of these cases, it was a tentative appointment.

Q: How do you handle cancellation requests from patients because of the lockdown?

We are understanding and flexible with our cancellations.

  • 1st we determine the nature of the cancellation. We flag the patient when it is COVID-19 related cancellation.
  • 2nd we encourage tentatively rescheduling their appointment.
  • 3rd if the patient does not reschedule then we follow up and eventually offer a discount to reschedule.

Q: According to our website’s data, many Americans search daily for dentists in Mexico. From your side, what is the current situation about international patients? Are you still receiving inquiries from abroad, from new potential patients?

As we continue to receive inquiries from our WhatClinic ad we noticed changes in the way Americans research dental tourism.

  • They spend more time online, on the phone, on SMS, and email.
  • They are more inclined to attend online consultations.
  • The closing ratio has dropped.

Basically, the process is still working as it was before. However, we must put forth more effort on our part to win/close the patient.

Dr. Jorge JimenezQ: When international patients communicate with you during the pandemic, what are they looking for and what are their main concerns? How do you handle their concerns?

They are looking for the treatment “after all of this is over” and in the meanwhile, they do the research. The people that I’ve noticed that are concerned about the subject are people that can’t drive to the clinic and would have to take a flight to get here. So they can’t buy their ticket or make travel plans because they don’t know what’s going to happen nor do they know how long this will last.

Q: Is it a good time for patients to research on dental treatments (e.g. dental implants, veneers, etc.) and book for the future?

It is always a good time to do research. However, now patients want to book for future appointments. For this reason, patients need to be reassured that the dental office they visit will be fully functional by the date of their appointment. They also need to make sure travel restrictions will be lifted and their visit will be a comfortable and safe experience.

Q: In case a patient needs an emergency dental appointment, are you ready to treat them as soon as possible? In this case, which measures do you undertake to protect you and patients from COVID-19?

Yes. We will treat emergencies. And, we are taking all necessary measures to protect patients and staff alike. As a normal routine in a dental office, we already disinfect and eliminate all possibilities of cross-contamination. This is easier to do now with fewer patients to treat.

Q: How do you stay in touch with your existing, and future, patients? Are social media an important channel for dentists to communicate with their patients?

We do use all social media as most people do. However, a personal approach is best for patients. Zoom is a tool that allows for this personal touch. Seeing the doctor and hearing his voice is a plus for the patient.