Increased Production = Preparation
Doctors, how many times has this conversation happened in your practice during your hygiene exam:
“Susie, Bobby is cavity-free and his teeth look good. What about his sealants?”
“Dr. Smith, I don’t really know. Let me take a look here in his clinical chart/patient record and see what I can find. It appears that he has not had any placed yet. What would you like to do?”
You respond with, “Susie, has anyone spoken with his mother or father to determine if we have the parent’s okay to place sealants?”
Susie says, “Gosh Dr. Smith. I don’t know. Let me walk up to the front desk and see if Beth (the Patient Coordinator) has spoken with them.”
In the meantime, you wait or leave the treatment room where Bobby is and conduct another recall exam in another hygiene room.
The scene changes: Susie is at the front desk, asking Beth if she knows anything about sealants for Bobby. Beth quickly reviews the insurance benefits for Bobby and determines that they are covered with a $50 deductible, but she doesn’t know if Bobby’s mom, who came with him, will want to pay the deductible. She suggests that Susie ask Bobby’s mom what she would like to do.
Susie calls Bobby’s mom from the reception room. “Mrs. Brown, I noticed that Bobby would benefit from sealants on his 6-yr molars. It appears that your dental insurance will cover the fee, all but the $50 deductible. Would you like for us to place them today?”
Mrs. Brown responds with, “Susie, I would love for you to do that. Can I send you a check for the $50?”
Susie has no idea how the finances in the office are managed, so she now involves Carol, the Financial Coordinator, to determine how to handle Mrs. Brown’s question regarding the payment of the $50.
15 minutes later, Susie gets the approval from Bobby’s mom to place the sealants, and as a result of the time taken to obtain permission, not only does Susie not have the time to place the sealants now, she is running 10 minutes late for her next patient. What should the Patient Coordinator do?
Step 1 - As the Patient Coordinator is reviewing the Routing Slips for the hygiene patients that are coming in the next day, concentrate on the children.
Step 2 - Check for the following:
Step 3 - Review insurance eligibility for the above items and indicate on the routing slip.
Step 4 - When the parent checks in at the front desk with the child for the appointment, obtain permission (should the doctor determine that these procedures are needed) for the above items and discuss any financial concerns. Relay this information to the hygienist so the hygienist is informed, should the doctor ask.
It is much more efficient to be proactive opposed to reactive, as illustrated in the example above. This example relates to a hygiene patient, but can also apply to a patient scheduled for a restorative procedure(s) with the doctor. An example would be:
Debbie, the Schedule Coordinator, notices an opening in her doctor’s schedule for tomorrow morning. What should the Schedule Coordinator do?
Step 1 - Review the treatment plans for the patients before and after the opening that was created.
Step 2 - If there is unscheduled treatment and the opening available will allow for the additional treatment, review the insurance ramifications.
Step 3 - Contact the patient and inform them that there was a change in the schedule, and to save the patient an additional visit, additional treatment could be provided and their additional investment would only be $XX.
Step 4 - If it is not convenient for this patient, contact the patient after the appointment, offer the information, and ask them to arrive earlier to complete the additional treatment.
This will help you to avoid the following discussion with your assistant:
“Janie, I see that Jack needs fillings on the lower side. I wonder if he would be interested in getting them done today?”
Janie responds with: “I don’t know, Dr. Brown. Would you like for me to ask him?”
Janie approaches Jack and informs him of more treatment that was presented and that Dr. Brown would like to perform the treatment today to save Jack a return visit.
“Janie that would be great! How much more would it cost?” Jack asks.
“I don’t know, Jack, but I will be happy to find out for you,” replies Janie.
And you know the rest of the story, as it is a replay from the previous conversation with the parent of Bobby.
Working together as a team, you and your assistants, hygienists and business coordinators should always be looking for the “Windows of Opportunity” to increase production and better serve your patients.
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