65494546 © Mrchan | Dreamstime.com
Dreamstime Xxl 65494546 64da6b40d1e15

Calling all coordinators! Defining dental front office admin roles

Aug. 17, 2023
A coordinator as a person who organizes people or groups so that they work together efficiently. Here's a breakdown of roles and responsibilities for various types of dental practice coordinators.

Using team members’ skills to the fullest is imperative and will lead the office to success. As huge advocates of cross-training, we train every employee to a certain degree. We are fortunate in that three of our four office administration team members also hold the title of dental assistant licensed in radiology. Their background in assisting gives them a huge advantage in understanding the clinical aspect of the schedule, triaging phone calls, and managing the priorities of the day. Another advantage is their ability to help on the clinical side whenever needed. Since each day presents us with unexpected changes and challenges, it is incredibly helpful to have team members with a positive, flexible mindset, and a skill set that allows them to take on whatever the day may bring.

Related content: 

Some common duties that the office team can help the clinical team with are seating patients, taking radiographs while the patient waits for the clinician, managing sterilization processes, and setting up/breaking down rooms.

Likewise, the clinical team can help with answering the phone, checking patients in/out, new-patient registration, taking payments, reviewing treatment plans, and scheduling appointments.

For your team to work well together, they need to understand and respect each other’s responsibilities. Remember, everyone is ultimately there to work as a team and provide the best dental care possible. It is never a healthy work environment when someone thinks they are “working harder” or has an “it’s not my job” mentality. Keeping communication open and encouraging team members to learn from each other, grow together, and take on more responsibilities encourages them to be more vested in the practice and each other. As roles expand, be sure to update job descriptions and communicate those changes with your team.

Scheduling, patient, financial, treatment, clinical, and hygiene coordinators … these are a few of our favorite things! By definition, a coordinator as a person who organizes people or groups so that they work together efficiently. This is exactly what we strive for in our practice!

Scheduling coordinator

You are the primary front office contact to welcome and check in the patients. Duties include:

  • Helps maximize daily production by keeping the schedule full.
  • Maintains and organizes patient charts making sure signed forms and mandatory documents are present.
  • Obtains patient updates and HIPPA forms.
  • Corresponds with other offices in regard to referrals, x-ray/document requests, and pertinent medical information.
  • Communicates with patients via phone, text, and email.
  • Monitors voicemail and returns calls.
  • Manages the office email account and text messages throughout the day; replies to correspondence as needed.
  • Reviews same-day schedule and assesses the week ahead.

Patient coordinator

The secondary front office contact/overflow check-in person. Duties include:

  • Reviews daily/weekly charts to determine which patients need to update medical questionnaires; ensures all are completed prior to the patient’s arrival.
  • Moves appointments as necessary, being sure to document any changes; initials the note.
  • Confirms insurance eligibility; makes appropriate notes and alerts in patient chart.
  • Contacts patient if there is a change with their insurance.
  • Presents and explains treatment plans based on insurance eligibility prior to services being rendered. Assists in resolutions with insurance companies and outstanding patient balances.
  • Verifies correct billing types and fee schedules.
  • Checks out patients and gathers any consent forms needed for patients that will return for treatment. Schedules follow-up appointments for productive scheduling.
  • Monitors front desk supply inventory and orders accordingly.

Financial coordinator

This team member ensures compliance of company policy regarding collection procedures and practices.

  • Reviews family file and updates pertinent information as needed
  • Requests insurance breakdowns and records benefits. Informs patients of insurance waiting periods. Reviews claims for accuracy and batches claims at the end of the day.
  • Processes insurance payments and sends out statements following posting.
  • Posts personal checks and insurance virtual credit cards.
  • Contacts the insurance company to collect unpaid balances or provide additional information when requested.
  • Completes daily end-of-day tasks that include reviewing deposit and day sheet accuracy.
  • Runs reports on the following frequencies: Weekly–Procedures Not Attached to Insurance and Insurance Claims to Process, Biweekly–Insurance Aging Report, and Monthly–Aging Report.

Treatment coordinator

  • Answers phones and returns messages daily.
  • Reviews schedule one week out.
  • Makes sure questionnaires are current; requests updates as needed.
  • Collects any co-payment and/or balance as patient checks out.
  • Reviews signed records release forms with doctor/administrator.
  • Schedules new patients, reviews insurance, calls the previous dentist to request records, sends welcome email and questionnaire.
  • Schedules consultations for patients; reviews insurance and financial information.
  • Completes pre-treatment estimates as needed; sends to insurance, scans into document center, notates amount due when services are rendered, and records in the ledger.
  • Collects a co-pay one week prior to scheduled sedation appointments.
  • Reviews and maintains unscheduled treatment reports.
  • Turns in doctor referral reports/letters, preauthorization aging reports, and preauthorization to process reports to the office manager at the end of each month.
  • Helps the front desk coordinator as needed.

Clinical coordinator

  • Maintains daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance and OSHA checklists.
  • Helps keep the schedule flowing by directing doctors to patients based on schedule/needs.
  • Acts as positive point of contact for clinical staff to help with any troubleshooting.
  • Acts as a communicator between office administration and clinical staff.
  • Liaison for clinical team member concerns.
  • Keeps a running supply of all operative and sterilization supplies; reorders as needed.

Hygiene coordinator

  • Oversees hygiene schedule and workflow; makes suggestions on ways to improve.
  • Maintains the hygiene area to include patient education products, pamphlets, referrals, and forms.
  • Monitors the functionality of the equipment.
  • Stocks and orders all hygiene products with inventory control.
  • Contributes at team meetings and department meetings.

All department coordinators meet with the practice administrator/office manager regularly to review any issues, suggestions, or ideas that could impact the overall practice or team.

The underlying success factors for each position include good communication skills, comprehension, being an active listener, and being flexible, all while maintaining a professional and positive demeanor. Each position must also abide by all OSHA, HIPAA, and office compliance standards.

Keep in mind that a distinct job title gives purpose to your team member and provides guidelines to follow. The title also lets patients and team members know who the best point of contact is for each need. Provide business cards and name tags with each title. Invest in your team by giving clear-cut expectations and time for cross-training, and in turn, they will be able to coordinate it for you!

About the Author

Stacey Singleton, EFDA, CDA, FAADOM

Stacey Singleton, EFDA, CDA, FAADOM, has worked in dentistry since 1997 and is currently the practice administrator for York County Pediatric Dentistry and Harborside Dental in Wells, Maine. She is also chapter president of the Southern Maine chapter of AADOM. Singleton is certified by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) and the National Oral and Maxillofacial Anesthesia Board. She holds a degree in business administration and enjoys teaching dental programs at the local community college and volunteering. She loves spending time with her family and friends, camping, hunting, fishing, photography, cooking, gardening, and attending car shows. 

Updated April 14, 2022