Dental treatment coordinators: Dental practices’ Most Valuable Players

The responsibilities of dental treatment coordinators are vast. So is the value they add to your dental practice.

Jan 21st, 2016
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There is an increasing prevalence and importance of dental treatment coordinators, skilled colleagues who can help a dental practice increase its case acceptance by up to 20%. That’s a laudable figure, but what should the treatment coordinator ultimately be responsible for to help make this increase happen?

Choosing the right treatment coordinator can make all the difference between a practice that’s moderately successful and one that’s extravagantly successful. Opinions vary, but in my experience the core characteristics of a good treatment coordinator are self-confidence, strong relationship and communication skills, an optimistic attitude, and a genuine curiosity about people. High emotional intelligence and empathy (not sympathy, an important distinction) are imperative, as is a strong motivation to solve problems and work toward financial solutions for patients who need to be persuaded to make dentistry a regular feature of their lives.

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That’s an awful lot of responsibility. How might it play out day to day?

New patient organization—Treatment coordinators are the first point of contact for new patients, often via phone. This first call can take up to 15 minutes, which in multiples can be a little difficult to fit into a practice’s daily operations. (Add “good time management” to the list of core characteristics above.)

Your treatment coordinator will also serve as the orientation committee for new patients, providing them with a welcome package, ensuring they’ll show up for that crucial first visit, giving them a tour of the practice, and then sitting down with them to assuage anxieties and determine their goals for their dental health.

• Financial arrangements on the fly—Patients coming from their hygiene visit with previously diagnosed needs or (especially) new diagnoses will need a more in-depth look at their financials. What’s the overall affordability and the available options to help defray costs?

• Predetermination management—Although predetermination doesn’t really fall under the case acceptance rubric, it might very well be necessary if a patient is serious about dental treatment. Knowledge of coverage particulars benefits both your practice and patients. Then, once predetermination is returned, the treatment coordinator will need to follow up at once with patients to keep them moving along the treatment track.

Consult preparation—When a patient is invited back for a separate consultation, the treatment coordinator handles the logistics, preparing the plan, letters, documents, visuals, and room setup for the patient and any family members who might attend.

• Tracking case acceptance—Here, the job comes full circle, as the treatment coordinator tracks diagnosed and planned treatment for patients, calculating acceptance rates, and often assembling a monthly summary for the entire dental team.

These are all crucial variables, for sure, and a skilled treatment coordinator is one who can handle each of them with aplomb. That’s what leads to increased case acceptance, and tangible value added for your practice that far exceeds the cost of an additional staff member.

This article first appeared in DE's Expert Tips & Tricks. To see past issues or to subscribe, visit dentistryiq.com/newsletter. For more Practice Management articles, visit dentistryiq.com/practice-management.

Lisa Philp, RDH, is the President of Transitions Group. She can be contacted at (800) 245-5157 or info@transitionsonline.com.

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