Customize the length of hygiene appointments based on patient needs. Some children will require more time for their hygiene appointment, and some will require less. To make the most efficient use of the hygienist’s time, schedule visits using 10-minute increments. If patients are new or anxious, they may need a longer appointment so the hygienist can explain to parents what to expect and answer any questions.
Advice for the Pediatric Dentist – Share information with your team. Hold Daily Business Meetings and Monthly Business Reviews to keep everyone on the same page. A Daily Business Meeting, held every morning, gives the entire team a sense of what to expect that day in terms of scheduled treatment, patients, open appointments and emergencies. Monthly Business Reviews should focus on larger issues, such as replacing outdated protocols and improving customer service.
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Advice for the Front Desk Team – Document new patient conversations. Always ask parents of prospective patients who referred them to your practice. Make sure that patient records reflect this information. On the day of the new patient’s appointment, review the information with team members at the Daily Business Meeting.
Advice for the Financial Coordinator – Double-check insurance claims. Verify all claims before submitting so the insurance company has no reason to delay making payment. Double-check all insurance codes. Missing information can mean extra weeks or even months before the practice is reimbursed for its services.
Make testimonials a priority. Satisfied parents will gladly give a testimonial, if you ask. Nothing inspires greater confidence than what other parents say about a pedo practice. Look for opportunities to ask for testimonials during interactions with parents.
Thank parents for arriving on time for their appointments. Imagine a parent getting up early, dropping kids off at school, running errands and picking up their child from school to make a late-morning appointment… only to have their effort taken for granted. Whether by saying “Thanks,” noting that they’re 10 minutes early, or acknowledging it in some other way, the front desk team should let parents know their punctuality has been noticed… and appreciated. It will make them feel good about your pedo practice.
Advice for the Pediatric Dentist – A well-trained team makes for happy patients. Most patient interactions with the practice will be with team members rather than the doctor. That’s why it’s so important to provide the training and work environment that will help make team members confident, supportive and pleasant in their dealings with patients (and parents). Practice success depends on creating an excellent patient experience, in terms of both clinical care and customer service.
Help new team members get up to speed quickly. “Training new team members” may not be in your job description, but that shouldn’t stop you from giving sound advice or walking novices through procedural steps they need to master. It will only take a little of your time, may ultimately make your job easier, and will lay a foundation for better cooperation and teamwork.
Align the practice’s annual and daily production goals. Daily goals should be set to achieve the annual production goal. For example, if the practice wants to produce $800,000 in 200 workdays, the office needs to schedule $4,000 per day. While practices won’t be able to achieve this exact number each day, it’s a goal every team member can strive for.
Learn as much as possible about a new patient in the first phone call. Enter the following information in the patient’s file:
- Parents’ and patient’s names
- How they found your practice
- Parent’s cell phone number
- Any special concerns
By documenting this information right from the beginning, the pedo practice won’t have to ask parents to provide it again when they arrive for their child’s first appointment.