Treatment Planning in the Computer is a MUST
“What happens to all those patients that I recommend treatment to?” Have you ever wondered about that? Here is the dialogue that you have with your patient:
“Jane, it looks like you are going to need a crown on that tooth. The margins are leaking and there appears to be a cavity under that old silver filling when I look at your x-ray. I need to take out that old filling and remove the cavity. As a result, the remaining tooth structure will be weak. To save the tooth, we need to put a nice porcelain crown on the remaining tooth. Do you have any questions?”
“No” Jane replies.
“Great! Susie will walk with you to the front desk and they will schedule this for you,” you state, and say good-bye. You don’t see her again until her next 6-month recall appointment… without a crown. What happened to her? She said she didn’t have any questions.
Here is what happened at the front desk. Carol, your Schedule Coordinator has this conversation with Jane: “Jane, would you like to schedule for your crown?”
“No”, Jane says. “I will call you when I check my schedule.” Carol says okay and tells her good-bye.
First Mistake - No Follow Up
It is imperative to establish a time to follow up. When Carol places the call, her call would sound like the following: “Hello Jane. This is Carol from Dr. Brown’s office. I promised to call you today if I hadn’t heard from you so we can make your appointment to take care of the cavity and prepare the tooth for the crown. Are mornings or afternoons better for you?”
Many Schedule Coordinators are not comfortable “soliciting” patients for appointments (this is their perception, anyway). They may feel like they are bothering the patient or maybe feel like the patient would schedule if they wanted the crown. Not always true. We must recognize that our patients do not walk around all day thinking about their teeth! Unfortunately, we are not always high on their priority list.
To help Carol make this call, she would look at it from the standpoint that she is only following up on a promise that she made with Jane to call her, and Jane told her that it would be fine. Carol is NOT bothering Jane, but simply following up on her promise to call her. Also note that Carol did not ask Jane “Do you want to schedule?” This is a “yes or no” question. Instead, she asked her if she preferred a morning or afternoon and then waited for the patient’s response.
Second Mistake - Not Treatment Planned in the Computer
The last reason does not always happen in many offices, such as this one. All the new patients have a complete treatment plan entered into the computer. But what about those procedures that are recommended when the doctor sees the patient in the Hygiene Department? Or what about an existing patient that is seen with a toothache? If the patient does not schedule, is the procedure “treatment planned” in the computer for follow-up? Not in many cases.
ALL recommended treatment, whether it is scheduled or not, should be entered into the computer as a treatment planned item. It can be entered by the clinical team if there are computers in the treatment rooms, or by the Schedule Coordinator at the front desk.
Generating the Unscheduled Treatment Plans Report
It is also important to understand that should the treatment be altered in any way, the treatment planned item must also be altered before it is posted. If not, the initial treatment will remain on the Unscheduled Treatment Plan Report. In other words, if 3-MO becomes a 3-MOD, the original entry must be corrected. The other option is to delete the entry after the 3-MOD is posted. This will keep the report current.
Do This Today!
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