Passing the Baton to Your Business Team
Watching sporting events such as the Summer Olympics reminds me of the dedication athletes must have in order to endure long practice hours, physical pain and putting aside their personal lives to achieve a lifelong dream. I find team sports intriguing because the entire team must perform at their maximum ability ALL at the same time in order to win the gold. Not just one person carrying the team, but each team member bringing all they have for that period of time.
Dental offices face the same challenges on a daily basis. You are competing for the gold every day, providing the best possible dentistry, reaching daily production and collection goals, and managing your practice with dignity and fairness as an athletic coach would do.
Have you heard that a team is only as strong as the weakest link? This is also true in your dental office. That is why systems for accountability are so important – to find the weak link and make them stronger, which in turn strengthens the entire team.
As with any team sport, there are many areas where weak links may be evident if you know where to look. How many times have you heard an employee complain, “Susie doesn’t pull her weight, I feel like I have to cover for her all the time.” Maybe Susie doesn’t know she isn’t performing to the expectations of her teammates and needs professional training and a specific job description so you, as her coach, will know if she is a weak link or not.
This summary below covers a specific possible weak link in your practice – the hand off of your patient from the clinical team member to the business team member.
When is the baton dropped at the front desk?
Your team players pass the baton every time they walk a patient to the front desk to be checked out and have another appointment made. How many times do you think the baton is dropped? My experience working in many dental offices is “often”, and you likely have no idea – unlike the track coach who can witness it visually. Ask your clinical team members how many times they have walked their patient to the front desk, only to find no one sitting in the check-out area. Baton dropped! Ask your business team members how many times a patient just “shows up” at the front desk from the clinical area with no escort and no routing slip. Baton dropped!
How do you avoid the baton drop?
Start by understanding the importance of the patient being handed off to your business team initially. Wonder why money is not collected? Wonder why you are not as busy as you would like to be? This could be a place to look for a weak link and a dropped baton.
When your patient is dismissed from the treatment room, it is imperative they are personally escorted by one of your clinical team members to one of your business team members in the business area (preferably your Schedule or Treatment Coordinator). Next, the clinical team member must reintroduce the patient to the business team member by handing a completed routing form to the team member, reviewing what treatment was performed to add value to the visit, and verbally indicating what needs to be scheduled next, along with how much doctor and assistant time or hygiene time is needed. This step is to reinforce the recommended treatment by the doctor or hygienist. BATON PASSED!
BATON RECEIVED. Now the business team member takes the baton and runs with it. She/he inquires as to how the patient is, maybe even bragging on any anterior dental work that was performed today. Next is to collect any monies owed for the visit and finally, to schedule the next visit, reiterating the information that was already shared by the clinical team member.
With money collected, an appointment made and finances reviewed – over the finish line and you have a WINNER! Remember, practice makes perfect. Do some role playing during your next monthly meeting so your baton doesn’t get dropped at the front desk.
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