Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2015 02 Dental Receptionist 1

Thursday Troubleshooter: To have a sign-in sheet, or not to have a sign-in sheet?

Feb. 5, 2015
There are many benefits to greeting patients personally, but there are times that isn't possible. Should this dental practice keep or get rid of the sign-in sheet?

QUESTION: We are a very busy office with five doctors. We try to greet everyone who comes into the office for an appointment, but this has recently become an issue. We’ve taken measures to improve the situation. One is hiring another front desk person so we usually have two people sitting out front to greet and check in. Our front office people are also in charge of getting insurance and personal information updated, etc. Having the extra person has helped free the regular front desk person to call about benefits and deal with insurance issues.

Our office design is a very cute remodeled old hotel, so we check out people in a separate office from where we check them in. Someone in the office (not a front desk person) suggested getting rid of the sign-in sheet so that all patients are greeted personally. I feel this would not be a good idea since there are still times there is only one front desk person because of circumstances that arise. I feel like the sign-in sheet is a safety net, and the front desk person always checks it when she gets back to the desk to make sure she hasn't missed anyone. We always try to make personal greetings a high priority. But every now and then things come up to make it impossible. I'm wondering what works in other offices, and if you think getting rid of the sign-in sheet is a good idea or not.

It sounds as though your office is very quaint and provides a high level of care and customer service. I'm glad to hear that you have added another team member to maintain that level of service. One concern that I have is the fact that, at times, no one is there to greet patients when they arrive for their appointment. I would make an effort to have someone always at the front desk during patient hours. If you must step away from the desk, I suggest having another team member keep an eye out for arriving patients so patients are greeted. Most practices that share the high level of customer service philosophy have done away with sign-in sheets. A smile and warm greeting always makes people feel welcomed and special. It's this type of consistency that makes your practice stand out and encourages your patients to talk about how wonderful your practice is, thereby referring their friends and family members to you.

ANSWER FROM JUDY KAY MAUSOLF, Founder of Practice Solutions Inc:
Serving patients is your top priority. I question the necessity of a sign-in sheet if patients are being checked in by a greeter, that is unless you’re also tracking the time that patients check in and when they’re being seated to evaluate office efficiency and flow. If that’s the purpose I would suggest that employees create a log and log times themselves instead of the patients. It’s important to make the check-in process as simple and friendly as possible. I would be concerned about the level of service being delivered if the sign-in sheet is used in lieu of a personal greeting. It reminds me of the sign-in process with many medical doctors, which can feel very cold and impersonal. It sets a negative first impression for new patients. The future success of non-corporate dental practices will depend largely on the level of service they deliver.

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