8.12.11 Issue #492 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Jean Gallienne RDH BS
Hygiene Consultant
McKenzie Management
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Who's On First?
By Jean Gallienne, RDH BS

The two registered dental hygienists in your practice have finished the patients’ periodontal maintenance appointments, and are in the process of bringing them to the front desk to be checked out. However, when they get there with their patients, they realize that one person is on the phone, another is inputting a new patient’s treatment plan and insurance into the computer, while the other is working on a very involved insurance check that involves multiple patient payments and needs to be broken into all of their accounts.

The front office person that is working on the check breaks away and helps the first hygienist to approach the desk. However, this leaves the other hygienist’s patient without somebody to help them. She explains to Suzy, the patient, that one of the ladies will be with her as soon as possible, and she leaves to prepare for her next patient as she is close to getting off schedule. The patient is perfectly fine with the little bit of time she may have to wait for the front office scheduling coordinator to be with her.

Now it’s Suzie’s turn and the scheduling coordinator is starting to make her appointment when the phone rings. Sadly, the scheduling coordinator is the only person available to answer the phone. Now Suzy the patient, who has already waited for her turn, is being put off again. The scheduling coordinator proceeds with the patient on the phone. Suzy is not all right with waiting any longer and is not happy with the circumstance, thus making her upset with the office.

It would have been much better if the scheduling coordinator answered the phone and immediately informed the patient on the phone that: “I am currently working with one other patient that is ahead of you. Would you mind holding please?” Most people will say yes. This helps to keep the patients in the order that the front desk received them, whether they are on the phone or in front of you.

Being focused on the patient that is currently in your care - whether they are at the front desk, on the phone, or in the chair - is very important. Particularly when it is a new patient and the office is trying to make the first impression - make it a good one that will last with the patient throughout their lifetime in your office.

The person at the front desk that was already on the phone did not break away from her phone call because she is in the process of working with a new patient. The entire staff is aware of this because the office has created a way of informing everyone that the phone call is a new patient. There are offices that new patients call, and every time, no matter what time of day, an answering machine picks up the phone. Then there are the offices that the new patient calls and they are put on eternal hold. What do these situations tell your patients? You are too busy for them and that other people and things are more important.

It is very important to pick up the phone on the first ring, and answer with a smile. It’s easy for people to tell by the intonations in your voice if you feel like you are being bothered or interrupted. If you are the only one available to answer the phone and have to put a patient on hold because you are currently working with another patient, make sure you or another person gets back to them as soon as possible.

Once you have started a new patient phone call, remember that this is the patient’s very first impression of your office. Give them your undivided attention and not only make the appointments they want, but help them with any questions about the office, insurance, or directions - even if it means you have to make some phone calls on their behalf to figure out exactly what insurance plan is best for them so they can come to your office. This is not the time to be worried about posting checks or scheduling an appointment for another patient.

The patient always comes first, because without the patients there will not be any phone calls to answer, no treatment plans to put into the computer, and no checks to be posted. There will still be bills to be paid and salaries that employees are going to want, but without patients, this is not going to happen.

Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com and ask us about our 1-Day Hygiene Training Program.

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