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Dr Diksha Batra spent the majority of the Covid times of 2020 doing research and establishing safety protocols in the form of videos for dentists under the aegis of the Indian Dental Association. Now, she has authored a book called “Let’s Reset - Pandemic Proofing Your Dental Practice”. She talks about her book in this interview.
What is your book about?
The book is about the pandemic and ways of dealing and coping with it especially for healthcare workers like dentists who are most at risk, being front line warriors.
This pandemic taught us how vulnerable we all were and for me that opened my eyes to the weakest areas. But as they say “Being challenged in life is inevitable but being defeated is optional”. My response was to document this in a book to make my own systems and even that of my fraternity’s completely fail-safe.
No one can claim to be an authority about such a rapidly evolving situation and therefore the book was designed to be a first of its kind interactive one with interviews of experts across the globe and online resources and checklists so we can implement the ideas discussed.
When did you start writing it?
At the very beginning, I was roped into forming video protocols and guidelines with the IDA and this led me to start researching and creating methods to work efficiently in the pandemic.
The book was a concept in my mind since the beginning of the pandemic as this seemed like an insurmountable challenge for all of us at one point.
As guidelines started emerging I realized how difficult it was to actually apply them. I wanted something more relatable by someone who was actually in practice dealing with challenges of implementation. As I went through difficulties in following recommended standards that’s when I started compiling all the information.
There was definitely a need for us to put together an easy to follow the protocol from all the guidelines.
It was early June when the process started as just a few documents at first and then it metamorphosed into interactive conversations which also became part of the writing process, and finally, we completed and launched it with global expert contributors in September 2020.
What was the objective behind coming up with this book?
As we all have heard history repeats itself and as we have seen the frequency of diseases spread by viruses and their virulence has been increasing and so should our coping mechanisms.
The book comes with the aim of safety proofing our practices – teams, patients and ourselves from this and all such future adverse circumstances which threaten to paralyze our operations and limit our caregiving ability.
When we look back at these times and if this or some other form of the virus were to attack again we must be prepared.
Therefore it is designed to train us in making a shift to upgrade to our systems and protocols which will protect our vulnerabilities and make our practice function better on all fronts.
Is it only for a dental practice?
Dental practices need to take maximum precautions as they are most exposed to the area of viral concentrations like the mouth and throat. If we apply the measures taken in a dental practice to all other forms of non-surgical medicine they will be enough and more.
Even surgical precautions needed in operation theatres also follow the same principles but may need some escalation.
How did you go about collecting your data and information?
The information has been coming at us in the form of webinars, articles, interviews with experts from our industry and across the medical fraternity, global health authorities and infectious diseases and virology experts.
I spent the last few months as have most doctors trying to access everything I could to understand how to protect myself, my family and patients. The constantly evolving picture led to a lot of confusion and so I started to collate information from sources I trusted with an evidence-based approach.
What was your most surprising or shocking discovery as you researched this book?
To the best of my research, I couldn’t find any consolidated information sources apart from articles and webinars that required a lot of time and were subject to individual interpretation. There was no other book written on the subject at the time, especially for a dentist, understandably so. I am sure there will be many describing the pandemic in retrospect but as it unfolds we need a guide that helps us understand and cope with it. My challenge now was to bring the most well-researched knowledge and condense it to an applicable format.
Your book has a number of checklists and resources a dentist can use for their daily use. What was your research process developing these?
The last 4 months of lockdown were spent listening to experts and reading any information I could get on how to combat this situation. I started to then reach out and interview dentists from different parts of the world who were at different stages of the pandemic and had important insights about various aspects and solutions for challenges that they had overcome and gone back to practice already.
Did you start writing this book once you got ready to open your own practice?
Yes, absolutely it came out of applying all the knowledge I had been collecting. It was aimed at being a dossier so that coming back to practice is never such a challenge for all of us again. The content of the book has been written, rewritten and edited as we kept applying them at the practice as processes.
According to you, what are the key challenges India faces during the pandemic?
A population of a billion is hard to distance across the nation and especially in a city like Mumbai or even across Maharashtra, as a result, we may continue to live with the presence of the virus in our midst.
Our patients are not used to the increased cost so we must economically handle the usage of our disposables and control treatment costs to a point that they still remain viable for our patients.
Educating our population on safety measures and ensuring that the economic impact of the virus doesn’t outweigh the benefits of lockdown and distancing.
We must continue to work with safety precautions across the nation to prevent form a bigger disaster.
Your book is about pandemic proofing but how can you be certain that this is enough?
Humanity is discovering the effects of the pandemic and the nature of the virus almost collectively across the globe. It is impossible to claim to know it all but getting our facts from the perspective of providing safe medical or dental care is all we are entrusted with at the moment. My aim was to ensure we do no harm.
We have addressed the challenge from 8 perspectives and tried to ensure that every vulnerable area from our staff to our systems have been thoroughly upgraded to deal with this invisible enemy and others of this nature.
We can’t live in fear and we must apply science and the information to combat the disease as we have successfully done in every case.
This pattern always repeats with every disease. As we understand the disease better now we can control and limit its spread thereby pandemic proofing.
Do you think once we come out of the pandemic the future of dentistry will change for India? If so, how?
If we let it be a positive change there’s much to gain here. Since the pandemic was global our best practices are globally accepted. It is a common misconception that Indian dental practices may follow standardized practice recommendations to their own discretion. This seems like the perfect opportunity to ensure that we upgrade our practices to global standards of contactless appointments with teledentistry & online bookings, sterilization with Class B autoclaves, air purification with HEPA filters and aerosol limitation with optimal suctioning units.
These measures will not only reduce our risk to the pandemic but also create a safe and impressive practice for our patients to return to.
How should one best use the book?
The book must be a ready reckoner that you can go back to when you have questions or doubts about different aspects of practice. It is designed to safeguard all dimensions of your practise from your patients to your premises. The ideal way is to give it a speed read to familiarize yourself with it. Then approach each chapter from an implementation standpoint reading it multiple times, sharing it with your colleagues, discussing it, watching the online content, downloading the relevant resources till you have implemented that section and then moving to the next
The book for dentists only and is this for practice owner or even someone who is working at a dental office?
It’s meant to be for everyone owner, associate, assistant or even a health care worker the rules remain the same and the knowledge is something we all need to have to safeguard ourselves.
What are your future plans? Any books coming up?
We have all been talking about survival so far. In one of my live interviews with an imminent leader from the management world I realized the conversation must move from mere survival to success -- surviving this pandemic to actually resuming a new way of life is something we should adapt to and start demanding success from ourselves.
We all need encouragement and strategies so my next book is on success skills. I had been working on its since before the pandemic but felt it important to address the pandemic first. The message of this book has been pandemic proofing with technical skills and safety measures. The next one addresses the skills and mindset that one must have against all challenges pandemic and beyond.
Dr Diksha Batra is a dentist with over a decade of experience. She is the Owner of Smile Essentials - a 3-time winner of the Times All India Healthcare Award brand.
She has been lecturing virtually across the country over the last few months advising dentists on COVID preparedness and getting back to work.
Extensive research and planning have led her to develop training systems and protocols for the dental industry called Dentistry 2.0.
She continues to sharpen her training and solutions for safeguarding clinics and spaces from the pandemic.
She has authored a book called “Let’s Reset - Pandemic Proofing Your Dental Practice”. The book is available as hard copy and soft copy.
Kindle link - https://amzn.to/35yrAOs
Hardcopy link - www.rys.university/letsreset