10.23.15 Issue #711 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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Have You Reviewed Your Forms and Signs Lately?
By Nancy Caudill, Senior Consultant

Chartless/paperless dental practices are becoming more prevalent as the years go by. For me, I would venture to say that at least 75% of the offices I visit are chartless. I say “chartless” because they are not paperless; just ask the doctor how many reams of paper they purchase in a year! What is the paper used for? Good question. Patient registrations including medical histories, consent forms, financial option forms, treatment plans, insurance claims, HIPAA Privacy Act forms, surveys, and on and on.

You want to provide top-notch customer service and deliver excellent clinical skills. Your physical practice is beautiful with refreshment centers, professionally decorated reception areas, etc. Unfortunately, attention to detail in other areas is often ignored, such as forms you present to patients and the signage they see every day. It may be time to make updates and changes where necessary.

Let’s start with your forms. I would recommend that you or your office manager pull every form that is used in your office, whether it is a paper or online form. Here is what you are looking for:

• Clarity opposed to a copy of a copy of a copy of the original form that was initiated 15 years ago.
• Updated questions that are applicable in the year 2015, especially on the health history.
• Misspelled words. The most common is HIPAA spelled as “HIPPA”.  This is NOT correct.  HIPAA is the acronym for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
• Copies of forms made in the office that are not centered on the paper.
• Old information, such as a doctor’s name who has not worked in the office for 5 years because new forms have not been reprinted.
• Cheap paper. I know, you are saving money. But what does this say to your patients – they don’t deserve to complete a nice form on decent paper?

Speaking of nice paper, how about professional pens with your name on them? Those pens with plastic flowers attached to the top are cheesy. You are saying to your valued patients that you don’t want them to steal your pen! And take a look at your clipboards, if that is what you are using. When was the last time they were wiped down with sanitizer? Think about how many patients have handled those clip boards. Do they look presentable? I prefer the nice “leatherette” presentation folder that includes the pen, office business cards and a place for the office brochure.

If there is a handwritten sign in the reception area that asks patients to turn off their cell phone, check in, don’t eat or drink, etc. then consider having a nice plaque made. At the same time, avoid having plaques and signs that only say what the patient “can’t do” in the reception area. And how about those “Do Not” signs in the restrooms. If you mean it, have a nice sign professionally made.

Take a look at the signs in the staff lounge. I realize patients don’t see them, but your employees do. Look at your Emergency Exit instructions. Typically, I see these on a white piece of paper taped to a wall somewhere in view of the patients. Think about having a sign made that is easy to read with clear instructions.

There is also the “Payment Expected at the Time of Service” sign. I often see this posted, but when I review the Accounts Receivables it is $100,000 higher than it should be. Payment options should be made clear at the time of scheduling the appointment using the financial options form, not with a sign at the checkout counter!

Walk outside and take a look at the signage that patients are searching for to confirm they are at the right location. Is it kept clean and legible? Is it well-lit so it can be seen after dark? If you have a stand-alone sign, is the landscaping around it (where applicable) well-kept, free of weeds, and attractive? And last but not least, the door mat at the entrance of your beautiful office. Is it kept clean, trash-free and inviting?

These are just a few areas to check in your practice. I hope this article has encouraged you and your team to review these items, as well as other details in your office such as the lens on the operatory light. See what your patients see and ask yourself what they must think!

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Consulting Coaching Programs can help you implement proven strategies, email info@mckenziemgmt.com

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