Innovations during a crisis

Dr. Brett Gilbert found support and reassurance from U.S. Endo Partners.

Dr. Brett Gilbert discusses how he thought clearly, was creative, and innovated, even during COVID-19


Innovation is the key to advancing a field or profession forward. Historically, endodontic innovations have largely been tied to technology. However, in the face of COVID-19, innovation was not a shiny new piece of technology, but a complete re-examination of how we practice and how we communicate with our referring practices. We were pioneers as we found ourselves as dental first responders, uncertain of how to protect ourselves, our team, our families, and our patients. I am passionate about endodontics and teaching. The pandemic presented an opportunity to tie these together to help others. I often search for “teachable moments” — unplanned opportunities to impart knowledge. In the opening days of the pandemic, I found many teachable moments.

My ability and clarity on how to innovate during a crisis were empowered by knowing that I was not alone or vulnerable. I knew I had an entire partnership and team behind me.

Referral engagement

Prior to the pandemic, connecting with referring dentists was often done face to face, physically visiting with them at dental meetings or other activities. However, in the blink of an eye, a thriving community of professionals was suddenly under stay-at-home orders. In-person meetings were not going to be possible for the foreseeable future. I instantly recognized that I had to innovate how I would connect with our referring dental practices. Primarily, I wanted to support my existing and new referrers who were seeking support to accommodate their emergency patients. I also realized that dentists needed other forms of support that required me to be creative. As dentists sat at home, month after month, they wondered what they would need to do to reopen their practices in a new COVID-19 reality. There was fear surrounding practicing dentistry. The fear was powerful; I felt it too!

Unplanned opportunities to impart knowledge

I decided that videos could tell a powerful and intimate story to support dentists. I created a live webinar presentation on managing stress and also shared all of the precautions and protocols we were using in the office. This gave my referrers a glimpse at what was needed to prepare for reopening their own offices. However, it was not just the logistics and techniques that I wanted to share. I expressed my own initial fear and how I personally pushed through it to stand in my own power as a leader of my team. The messages resonated with the doctors, and they reported how helpful it was for them leading up to their own reopening.


The pandemic gave everyone a crash course in alternative communication. I wanted to keep the lines of communication open but wrestled with how to achieve it. Calling each dentist directly opened the door for long conversations, which were not sustainable. I decided to use existing technology and innovate my approach. I started to send out voice texts to my referrers. One nice feature with voice text messages is that they automatically erase, preventing the electronic dissemination of written protected health information (PHI). I saved time and was able to communicate intimately and personally with my referring partners by using my voice. When more in-depth communication was needed, I opted to connect by Zoom. These communication strategies served my practice well in the midst of the shutdown and fostered closer relationships with my referrers.

Specialty services partnerships

My ability to think clearly, be creative, and innovate was facilitated by a significant shift in my practice just days before the pandemic hit. I partnered my practice with U.S. Endo Partners, a specialty services partnership for endodontists, the week before the shutdown. One day I was a solo practitioner, feeling vulnerable and on my own island. The next day I was partnered with U.S. Endo Partners and had an entire team of partners who were there to support me. The partners all worked together in the face of tragedy and uncertainty. The support was tangible. Difficult-to-obtain PPE started showing up at my office even before I requested it. Written protocols and template letters to send to referring doctors and patients were sent to me before any other organization had created them. The support of being a partner in U.S. Endo Partners allowed me to focus on being a supportive leader to the dental community and a clear-headed clinician to my patients. Being free of many administrative responsibilities of running my practice, I was able to encourage and support others. As a solo practitioner, I had always felt vulnerable. When the crisis actually hit, U.S. Endo Partners alleviated the vulnerability and replaced it with strength and reassurance.

My ability and clarity on how to innovate during a crisis were empowered by knowing that I was not alone or vulnerable. I knew I had an entire partnership and team behind me.

Joining U.S. Endo has allowed me to pursue more teachable moments with a clear mind and unwavering passion.

U.S. Endo Partners helps Dr. Gilbert to stress less and concentrate more on what matters in his practice — his patients. Read more about his background and office philosophy here: https://endopracticeus.com/brett-e-gilbert-dds/

Brett E. Gilbert, DDS, graduated from the University of Maryland Dental School in 2001 and attained his Certificate in Endodontics in 2003. He is currently a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Endodontics at the University of Illinois-Chicago, College of Dentistry and on staff at Presence Resurrection Medical Center in Chicago. He has served as President of the Illinois Association of Endodontists and President of the Northwest Side Branch of the Chicago Dental Society. Dr. Gilbert was honored by the Seattle Study Club as a Top Ten Young Dental Educator in America in 2017. Dr. Gilbert is Board-certified and a Diplomate of the American Board of Endodontics. Dr. Gilbert owns and operates a thriving private practice limited to Endodontics in Niles, Illinois.


Disclosure: Dr. Gilbert is a clinician-partner of U.S. Endo Partners.

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