Have you ever called a dental office for a mutual patient’s x-rays only to be told, “The person who handles that is not in today?”
This lack of fluidity is probably one of the most detrimental things that dental offices need to address.
Having the first person who picks up the phone prepared to answer questions not only instills confidence in the practice but also improves efficiency for all team members.
The importance of the front desk
The front desk team members are the first and last impression made on our patients.
There is no greater source of information in the office for patients than the “front desk.”
Front desk team members are responsible for a myriad of tasks including, but not limited to, scheduling, confirming, keeping the schedule full, answering patient questions regarding insurance billing, and how to understand their EOBs.
They triage emergency patients based on their symptoms and are essential in making sure the patient is scheduled accordingly.
Additionally, they are ultimately responsible for helping clinical team members understand the CDT coding for procedures they perform, making sure claims are paid in a timely fashion, and the money is deposited into the bank account.
The benefits of cross-training your team
It is imperative that cross-training is at the core of a smooth-running front desk team.
How it helps dental managers
A lot of office managers want to be in control of certain aspects of dental office management. But as Penny Reed would say, as long as you “inspect what you expect,” your entire office will reap the benefits of the front desk team having a full suite of administrative information at their fingertips.
Cross-training also improves flexibility and productivity for the office manager.
I believe the true litmus test of a good manager is how well things run when they aren’t there.
There is nothing more relaxing than being able to take time off and know that your office will run smoothly and that all aspects of the front desk’s responsibilities will be accomplished in your absence.
How it helps the team
Training employees in multiple functions also creates positive morale in employees, all the while building a more skilled team member. As a result, it balances the workflow and creates team spirit.
Another benefit of cross-training your front desk team is the flexibility of team members.
It’s helpful to know someone can seamlessly cover all tasks (without halting productivity or compromising patient care) if an employee is sick, using PTO, or simply arriving late that day.
Make cross-training a norm
Obviously, it’s beneficial to play to everyone’s strengths as roles are determined.
However, a knowledgeable, cohesive team with a diverse range of skills will benefit the entire practice, strengthen individual positions, and provide your patients with a better overall experience.
Meet the Author
Before transitioning into the dental industry in 2008, Tammy Gemmer spent several years in the healthcare field as a medical transcriptionist.
After becoming a dental receptionist, she moved up to financial coordinator, and within three years, she became a dental office manager.
Nearly two decades later, Tammy is still passionately advancing her career through AADOM. She currently holds AADOM Mastership status.