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Critical Front to Back Communication

May 1st, 2017 | By Dr. Marynak | Blog

By Dr. Deborah Marynak

I’ve said it before, I love to develop systems and there are numerous systems that need to be in place in a successful Dental practice. Systems are simply a method of communication regarding how the office operates

As I’ve worked in various offices, there are many systems that I have been asked to improve. There’s collection systems, patient flow, recall systems (I prefer recare to recall), informed consent, documentation and inventory systems to name a few. But, the system that I’ve seen that needs the most improvement is the communication (or lack thereof) between the front and the back.

So, I will apologize in advance if I ruffle some feathers, but there are some simple truths regarding this system that need to be said.

1. Paperwork is an administrative in nature; paperwork is to be done at the front desk. Patients in need of new medical histories, informed consent, updating insurance information, etc. can arrive early and do their paperwork before their treatment time ensues.

2. Changes in the schedule need to be effectively communicated to the Clinical Team. It doesn’t matter how this is done, whether it’s on paper or in a computer. It shouldn’t be a secret that gets revealed once the patient shows up for the appointment.

3. Additions to the schedule need to be communicated. If the clinical staff is already navigating a full schedule, most patients presenting with a toothache will need to do a “sit and wait”. Please don’t come and ask us when we’re going to get that TA back; we will get to the toothache when there’s a break in the action.

4. Proper Scheduling of the planned procedure is critical; the Clinical Team will not know how to set up for treatment unless they know what treatment has been planned. For example, if the schedule says “fills”, do they set up for alloys or composites? Do they prepare for upper right and lower left or the opposite?

On the flip side…

5. Clinical verbiage is established in the back. Treatment plans can’t be appropriately presented unless the Administrative Team knows exactly what’s being planned. For example: what kind of a crown, implant, partial, cleaning, etc., is being planned.

6. No matter who is responsible for establishing the treatment that has been performed or how it’s communicated, the Administrative Team cannot collect the appropriate fees without knowing exactly what has been done.

In consulting, you’ll see Administrative staff coming back asking questions and Clinical staff running up to get paperwork that isn’t complete. This is a complete waste of time and loss of revenue. If you are amongst a Team that receives bonuses based on productivity, you’re essentially flushing your bonus down the toilet!

How’s the communication in your office? What part in the function of your day do you play.

“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

– George Bernard Shaw

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