Great Dental Patient Hand-Offs Make Everyone Smile!
Great dental patient hand-offs are powerful! But believe it or not, are not common practice. Yet so important for several reasons. The way we transfer care for our patient from one team member to another communicates a lot to our patient. More so than even our words say. So we do well to spend a little more time on this important piece of our team communication.
The dental front office has several opportunities to improve this. There is a hand-off when our patient transitions from the reception area to the treatment room. And this transition is most often missed completely. I think very few dental professionals even recognize this as a transition.
Our second opportunity is more obvious. And we experience the second patient hand-off from the treatment rooms. But this may not be our patient’s second hand-off. In fact, the dental patient can experience several hand-offs while they are with us. So, the better we get at this, the better experience we provide for our patients!
Great Hand-Offs Improve Case Acceptance
Great dental patient hand-offs improve case acceptance. Because patients trust us more and feel more comfortable with us when we handle their transitions smoothly. It’s true! And if we can get really good at this as a team, we’ll be amazed at how much better our days are! We will feel a better flow in our day. And feel more respect and support from our team.
Let it begin with you! If you are reading this today as the dental front office professional, let it begin with you! You have the opportunity to play a huge role in the dental practice. And two opportunities at least to manage a great hand-off. Let’s take an individual look at each opportunity and see what we can do here!
Great Dental Patient Hand-Offs At Check-In
Greet patients warmly as they enter the practice. This is a transition too! And I didn’t even think about that. But our patients are transitioning from the outside world into our dental practice. Who knows what has happened in their day before this moment. There could have been issues at home or work. Maybe a traffic problem. And quite possibly every one of those places could have created some stress. And now they are here with us.
Use the patient’s name! Hopefully you can identify your patient and know them by name. But if not, you can still say their name back to them once they’ve told you who they are. Greeting a patient by name is huge! And then be sure to identify their appointment time and type. Maybe something like this: “Hi Jane! We have you on our schedule for 2:00 for your hygiene appointment today. Thank you so much for being a little early. Let’s take a quick look at your chart and see if we need to update anything.”
Great Hand-Offs To Treatment Room
Now we have updated our patient’s information. And another hand-off is soon to come. So we want to prepare our patient for their next transition. Before we invite our patient to have a seat, let’s tell them what to expect next. We want to let them know who will coming out for them. When we use our team member’s names, we help build our patient’s confidence. And if we compliment our team member, we immediately make friends with our patients.
“Thank you so much, Jane. Kelly will be out for you any moment. She will be taking very good care of you today. And I know this is your first time seeing her. But she has quite a following. And we all love her! I’m sure you will too!”
Great Patient Hand-Offs From Treatment
Here comes the tricky one! And we may have to gently take the lead here at the front end. Especially if there hasn’t been any hand-off training with the team. Let’s say Kelly, our hygienist, brings our patient to us following her hygiene visit. And Kelly now needs to help our patient transition back to us. Perhaps there is treatment to schedule. It’s best to get all the information we need while we have the clinician with us at the front desk.
If possible, greet your patient again. This will support the office clinician as well. You may need to excuse yourself for a moment if you are in a conversation with another patient. And that’s okay too. The idea is just to let Kelly know as she walks up to you that you will be right with her. And to ask her to wait just a moment for you, if she can.
“Hi Jane! Kelly.. if you could please wait with Jane just one moment, I promise I’ll be right with you.” And then do your best to finish up to care for Jane.
Great Hand-Offs Include All Necessary Info
Gather all the information from the clinician you need. You always need to know what was done today. Review all treatment with the patient and clinician. Otherwise, treatment may not be entered correctly. And that never feels good later. Then review any treatment or referrals needed. And while you are talking, check the patient’s chart. Is everything there that you need. Get the amount of time you need to schedule treatment. Or clinical information for any referrals.
Thank your clinician for their time during the hand-off. And gather every piece of information you need to schedule the next appointment or discuss finances. The last thing we want to do at the front office or consultation room is hunt down a clinician. But we also want to be sure we communicate appreciation and warmth to and for our clinician. Our patient needs to see unity and superior team work and support.
Great Dental Patient Hand-Offs And Our Farewell
Now it’s time to say “farewell”. And the best thing we can do is let our patient know we are here if they need us. Be sure to use your patient’s name in your send off. Show genuine care. And let them know you are available if any questions come up. And don’t forget that magic commitment question. We made an appointment for them. And we want a commitment to our reschedule policy… Here’s the script!
“Would you be able to give us 2 business days’ notice, Jane? If you need to reschedule, please?” … wait for it! an acknowledgement and a promise. Pause.. and let your patient respond that they will do so. “Thank you so much. We so appreciate you.”