Going with the Flow [4 Steps to Improve Your Patients’ Experience]
What does your daily patient flow look like? Boost team communication for the perfect patient experience.
You have the perfect day scheduled. How your team communicates can create a seamless patient flow.
Here’s a good example of optimizing patient flow from the time the appointment is scheduled until it’s complete.
4 steps for optimizing patient flow
1. Making the appointment
Front office/dental treatment coordinators are the ones to have the first conversation and set the first impression of your dental practice.
During this conversation, the team member should get all patient information, demographics, and a reason why the patient is coming in.
Then, the team member gets this information to the clinical team by putting information into your office software and having discussions with appropriate team members before and the morning of the appointment.
Make sure that the front office team verifies all financial information prior to the appointment. The assistant or hygienist then reviews the information you’ve included.
Be sure to have any necessary discussions prior to the patient arriving.
2. Check-in on the day of the appointment
The front office team welcomes the patient to your office and gathers any other information they still need.
Then make adjustments to the chart as necessary before showing the patient to the appropriate waiting area and marking them as checked in on the scheduling software.
The appropriate staff comes out for the patient, welcoming them again and introducing themselves. They explain what they will be doing as they walk them to the operatory.
Once there, discuss the reason for their visit and confirm that it’s correct. For dental assistants, excuse yourself to review this information with the dentist and let the patient know you will be right back.
For hygiene appointments, go over what will be done during this visit.
The doctor steps in and introduces themselves, going over the details of what’s been gathered about the appointment and then making an appropriate treatment plan.
Once the appointment is complete, the doctor wraps up the visit and says goodbye.
Then, the assistant or hygienist will finish up and escort the patient to the front office for check out or treatment planning. They will provide the front office staff with necessary paperwork and instructions on what needs to happen next.
The front office team will ask how the appointment went and if there are any questions the patient has. Continue the check out process and make the next appointment if needed.
If they do wish to schedule at this time, ask them when a good time will be to follow up (and make appropriate notes in your software).
Also, let them know who they can call and speak with if they have any questions or concerns.
Give them a business card with any applicable appointment information, your new patient welcome items, and thank them once again for allowing your team to take care of their smile!
A recipe for success
Everything you say from the first phone conversation until the checkout helps build a solid foundation for trust between your patients and the practice.
Make sure your team communication reflects a seamless flow so that the patient’s experience is pleasant and their care doesn’t slip through the cracks.
Meet the Author
Vickie Ward is the owner of Key Dental Management…Opens in a new window to Key Dental Management homepage…. She is a Fellow of the American Association of Dental Office Managers and serves on the Board for the Wilmington, NC Chapter of AADOM…Opens in a new window to Wilmington, NC chapter of AADOM….
Having worked 20 years in the dental field as a dental practice manager and front office team member, she now serves as a consultant, coach, and fractional team member to dental offices.