Critical communications: Using your practice management program to unlock this hidden secret

July 6, 2010

By Laci L. Phillips

Is your front office team wondering what your clinical team could possibly be doing back there? Is your clinical team questioning if their patient has arrived yet? Is your hygienist waiting for an exam and isn’t quite sure where the doctor is? Are you communicating with your team without talking?

Every day we struggle with our communication and with others’ ability to understand and interpret it. We become frustrated on a daily basis simply because of miscommunication. Perhaps you read books or take courses on how to communicate better. If you are using a practice management program (PMP), you have a hidden secret to communicate effectively and efficiently, and it’s just waiting to be discovered.

The key to your success, once we unlock this secret, is to share it with your team. There are four to five different modules in each PMP; you can communicate through each one of these. Let’s take a look at the electronic appointment book. When you use this module to make appointments; attach money to the procedures; block schedule; schedule provider time and assistant time; finish, post or set the appointment complete, you are communicating with your team. Are they listening?

Here is the communication: Making the appointment tells the team if it is a new or existing patient. This can be an attitude adjuster right away. What is the patient coming in for, how should the room be set up, what instruments should be ready? If this is a favorite procedure of one but not both of the assistants, who will take this patient? The appointment tells everyone how much time is needed with this patient and who needs to be in the room at what time. If there is assistant time and provider time, where is the provider when he/she is not in this room? This appointment tells us the money attached; if you have a daily, weekly, and monthly goal, the team can see where they are in relation to reaching that goal. The appointment tells us if the patient has been confirmed, has arrived in the office, and if the patient is ready to be taken to the clinical area for treatment. Once the appointment is finished, posted or set complete, this tells the administrative team that the patient will be returning to the front office soon. Now they know they will need to collect payment and work with insurance. All of that communication is just from the appointment book, which is one module, and from the scheduled appointment.

Imagine now, there are four to five different modules per practice management program. That is four to five times the amount of communication you and your team could be using. Are you listening? Is your team reading between the lines in your PMP? There are some really exciting features in your program that you could be missing right now. Let your software assist your communications, and learn to communicate without talking.

Laci L. Phillips is the senior practice management consultant and a professional public speaker with Banta Consulting, Inc. of Grain Valley, Mo., as well as the Director of Partnering Sponsors with SCN. While going to college in southern New Mexico to pursue a life of communications, Laci was introduced to her first job in the dental industry as a chairside assistant 18 years ago. Her experience in the dental office as a chairside assistant up through the ranks as an office administrator enable Laci to connect with her audience and her clients. As a team and software trainer and a team builder, Laci has an effective way of teaching the entire team how to move in the same direction, while working as an individual. Through Banta Consulting, Laci provides her expertise to dental practices, both large and small, across the country and internationally. Laci lives in New Mexico with her husband and two children, and can be reached by e-mail at [email protected].