Key Training Protocols for New Hires
Due to a shortage of people with dental knowledge, many practices look to hire people with the core skills of customer service and a willingness to learn new skills that will develop into a career in dentistry. When asking hundreds of dental workers who it was that trained them for their position, the most common response was a previous employee. When asked who trained them on the dental software program, the most common response was a previous employee or a current employee. What was the standard of training in each of these practices?
When employees leave their jobs or are terminated, they usually seek to be hired on at another practice as “experienced.” The assumption is that they have enough experience to take the next job and be able to function with success. Some key things to consider that are standard in any practice are:
1. Knowledge of the practice software. Must be able to enter patients, schedule appointments, insert insurance information, treatment plans and post private and insurance payments. This is the core skill necessary to be able to “hit the ground running” at the front desk. Using a program for electronic claims and attaching x-rays, documents and photos is also a necessary skill, but one that can be taught. Running reports to monitor practice numbers is next and can also be taught.
2. Customer service skills. These core skills are telephone etiquette and being able to connect with the patient to build trust. Communicating the importance of keeping scheduled appointments, collecting at the time of service for cash patients, and handling co-pays and deductibles for assignment of benefits insurance patients is necessary for the practice to survive.
3. Knowledge of HIPAA. Understanding this federal act is critical for all who work in health care. Discussing dental treatment plans and financial options within hearing range of people in the reception room is a common breach of the untrained.
4. Knowledge of email, scanning documents and creating proper digital dental records. Technology does not allow dental workers to stay rooted in the past. Many practices are chartless and do not store paper. Some offices have a combination of both. It is observed in many practices that some employees do not know how to import or export documents or images via email. These skills can be taught.
5. Knowledge of scheduling for production. The skill to create a properly scheduled day that meets a monetary goal and runs on time without chaos and unusual stress. This requires communication with the doctor and the clinical team to understand what the schedule looks like on paper. For the new person, it is helpful to create blocking of the perfect day to help them choose an appropriate appointment slot.
6. Knowledge of creating a harmonious working environment by cooperating and communicating effectively with co-workers. Often called teamwork, this is difficult to train. In many offices there are drama queens, lone rangers and the disconnected. They often do their jobs well, but work outside the good of the team by being self-promoters and territorial about their jobs. It is standard and very important to have monthly staff or team meetings that are structured to be positive in creating a motivated team. A team member with the skills to facilitate meetings and to structure the agenda to allow participation of the entire team is highly desirable.
If you hire an experienced person with these core skills, anything else can be taught. It does take time and dedication to teach, and often, senior employees are strapped for time and patience to train a new hire. Understanding dental procedures, treatment protocols, codes and dental insurance processing are areas of challenge in teaching new hires without dental experience and also to people who did not perform these tasks at their last job.
The book Current Dental Terminology can be purchased from the ADA website or catalog, and is an excellent source of training for the person without dental knowledge. It contains tooth charts, dental terminology and explanation of the ADA dental codes for procedures. McKenzie Management also has a basic training book called Dentistry - An Introduction for New Employees which will help the new hire understand the dental practice environment and get them up to speed fast. Continued exposure to dental periodicals, articles and CE courses will help build the knowledge of dentistry to a confident level.
McKenzie Management also has a Dental Training Center for employees that have mastered the basics and are ready to move upward in their career as a Business Coordinator/ Front Office/Financial/Insurance Coordinator. Call 877-777-6151 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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