Wednesday, June 27, 2012

She didn't just say that . . . did she?

Have you ever overheard a conversation with a patient and the receptionist’s tone and language made your hair stand up on end? Have you ever overheard a conversation and think to yourself, “She didn’t just say that, did she?”
Language skills are probably one of the most difficult skills to acquire in the dental office. In this week’s blog, I am going to share with you a few of the most common language mistakes made in the dental practice and give you some better language choices I have learned during my 20 years in dentistry.
Example #1:
Patient calls to schedule an appointment: “Hello. I am calling to schedule my cleaning appointment.”
Receptionist: “Are you a new patient or a returning patient”
If this person has been a patient in your office for many years, she might be offended because you don’t recognize her. To avoid any potential problems, simply reply: “Great! How long has it been since you have been in to see us?” The patient will respond with either, “Oh, I am a new patient” or “I just got my reminder that I am due.” Now you can have the appropriate conversation with the patient because you know with whom you are talking.

Example #2:
Patient calls and asks how much you charge for a certain procedure: “How much do you charge for a crown on a back tooth?” or “How much do you charge for a cleaning?” When patients call and shop for prices, this is a great opportunity to build a relationship and hopefully schedule the patient for a new patient exam or, at the very least, a second opinion.
Here is how I would reply:
May I ask you a few questions? What is your name?” (Let the caller respond.)
“How did you hear about our office?” (You are building a relationship here.)
“Has your regular dentist told you that you need a crown on this tooth?” (Find out if the caller has a regular dentist or if he or she is self-diagnosing.)
Treatment can vary depending on the diagnosis of the tooth, the tooth could be broken or have a cavity but without our doctor looking at it or an X-ray, I can’t determine over the phone if the tooth needs a crown or some other type of procedure.” (The caller will either agree with you or still want pricing.)
Can I schedule you with Dr. Smith so he can take a look at your tooth and give you some treatment options?” or “Our crown fees vary. I can give you a range of $950 - $1,250 depending on the type of crown.”

Example #3:
Patient is checking out at the front desk and you need to collect his out-of-pocket today. Receptionist: “How did your appointment go today?”
Patient: “Great! Emily always does such a thorough cleaning.”
 Receptionist: “Yes, she is my favorite as well! Your portion of today’s appointment is $65.40, how would you like to take care of that today?”
 If the patient did not bring any money or credit card to his appointment, print him a walkout statement and hand him an envelope with the address of the office already printed on it and attach a stamp. This ensures that nothing prevents your patient from putting the $65.40 in the mail right away.
Now you can also follow up with the above scenario with asking for a referral.
Receptionist: “How did your appointment go today?”
Patient: “Great! Emily always does such a thorough cleaning.”
Receptionist:Emily has mentioned that you are one of her favorite patients. If you have friends or family that would appreciate the same great service that you get from Emily, I know she would love to see them. Here is our card if you would like to send someone our way.”
 This flows easily after your patient has given your office a compliment.

Verbal skills are so important in the dental practice. When you have a new team member join the practice, it is important to listen to him or her on the phone with patients and teach him or her how to respond to different situations in your office. Your new team member might have had a different way of responding to patients in his or her previous office. Even the choice of words can be more patient-friendly than others, such as:
Ø  Bleaching vs. Whitening
Ø  Scaling and Root Planing vs. Gum Therapy or Perio Therapy

For more information on the new patient phone call and communication with new patients, refer back to my blog on The New Patient Experience .

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Dormant & Duplicate treatment . . . what to do?

Picture this … you and your team recently went to a Dentrix Insight Seminar in your area so you could learn the new features of G4 and the upcoming G5 updates. During the seminar, your presenter showed you something amazing that you had never used before . . . the Treatment Manager Report. Since your primary responsibilities in your office are following up on the unscheduled treatment, managing the treatment cases, and making sure your doctor’s schedule is full and productive, you are very excited to implement this tool into your daily routine.

It’s Monday morning and the first thing you do is open your Appointment Book and click on the Treatment Manager Report icon just like your Insight Seminar presenter instructed you to do. The box opens up (which will allow you to customize your list) but since you have never worked this list before, you leave everything at “ALL” and it starts generating the list. Suddenly, you realize you have your work cut out for you.

What many Treatment Coordinators find in this untapped resource is old treatment, duplicate treatment planned procedures, or optional treatment that has not been managed. Now you, the “self-motivated Treatment Coordinator,” must figure out what to do with it all. Let’s walk through some scenarios together.

·         Duplicate treatment planned procedures can occur if your patient had been offered treatment options and someone didn’t know how to link the cases together or maybe the treatment was entered using Dentrix 11 when the linked cases option wasn’t available yet. Duplicate treatment can also be added accidentally. However these duplicate procedures get there, they need to be cleaned out. This is the only … and I repeat ONLY … time I say it is OK to delete a treatment planned procedure out of a patient’s chart.
·         When a patient has left the practice and you are inactivating his or her account, it is important to “reject” the treatment planned procedures. Do not delete it! Your patient has elected to seek treatment at another office and it is extremely important to preserve the history in your patient’s chart. The treatment history is just as important as the ledger history. In Dentrix G4, there is the option to “reject” the case under the case status update and you can put a note as to why you are rejecting the treatment.
·         Another situation you will find is the long-term patient who has been coming into your office for many years and has optional or low priority treatment still sitting in his or her active treatment plan list despite you and your team having multiple conversations with the patient … and multiple rejections from the patient. You know these patients … they are the ones who consistently turn down nightguards, incisical fillings, erosion areas, ortho records, etc. This treatment should be “rejected” out of the treatment plan. By rejecting it, it will be moved into the rejected list so it will not show up in your active Treatment Manager list. When you reject it, you will have the opportunity to make a note and it will be dated with today’s date. If the patient changes his or her mind in the future, just change the status of this case back to an active status.

Once you have mastered the idea of what is considered active treatment and inactive treatment, you can now fully embrace the role of Treatment Coordinator and manage the treatment cases the way they should be from the beginning. You will create a better working environment for yourself and your clinical team will be happier.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Rita Zamora talks Social Media for Dentists

I recently had the chance to attend the Speaking Consulting Network meeting in Charleston, S.C. This is a great annual meeting where some of the best dental industry speakers and consultants get together for three days to discuss current trends and share ideas on how to make their dental clients more successful.

While I was there, I had the chance to do a series of video interviews with some of the brightest people in the dental industry. I'll be posting those videos occasionally on my blog, so keep an eye out for them!

My first interview to share with you is with Rita Zamora, an authority in social media marketing for dental and medical professionals. She has successfully trained and motivated dentists, physicians, teams, consultants, as well as corporate clients.  Rita and her team also actively co-manage dozens of dental and medical practices’ social media programs, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Her clients are located across the United States, as well as internationally.

Rita is a highly sought-after consultant and speaker. She has been published in professional publications such as Dental Town, The Progressive Dentist & Orthodontist Magazines, the Dental Tribune International UK, The Colorado Dental Association Journal, and many more. Rita graduated magna cum laude from the University of Colorado with a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing and is a board member of the Academy of Dental Management Consultants.

Rita has more than 17 years experience working hands-on in dental practice marketing, as well as case presentation and consulting. She developed referral marketing expertise working in specialty and general practices. Rita honed her patient relations and communication skills by personally presenting hundreds of complex periodontal and dental implant treatment plans.

Follow Rita on Twitter
Friend Rita on Facebook
Her email address is
Phone: (303) 807-3827

Monday, June 4, 2012

4 Key Elements to Managing Treatment Options

In my last blog, I showed you a short video on how to create alternate treatment plans for your patients in a much more efficient and simple manner. By using the steps shown on the video, your clinical team can create the linked cases in the treatment room and ensure that when the patient is brought to the front, he or she can be presented with treatment options before leaving your practice. If you can have the alternate treatment plans prepared before the patient leaves and you can avoid having to bring him or her back for a consultation, you will dramatically increase your case acceptance.
After your clinical team has created the alternate treatment cases for presentation, you can now take over with managing the case. What do I mean by managing the case? As the treatment coordinator, there are several things that you will need to handle now that the cases have been transferred into your care.
Ø  Print the treatment estimate for the patient so he or she has a written cost of each option and can make an informed decision. I recommend always keeping a copy of the estimates you give to the patient. If you are chartless, keep a copy in the Document Center. If you still have paper charts, keep a copy in the paper chart. By keeping a copy, you can always refer back to it if the need ever arises. Trust me … I have had this one bite me before.
Ø  If there are any procedures in the cases that will be referred out to a specialist, remember to attach the referring doctor to the procedure code so you can track it. It will also show on the printed estimate that the procedure is being done at another office because it will turn the fee to “0.”
Ø  Remember that the case that is set as the “Recommended Case” will be the one that paints on the tooth chart and will show up on your Unscheduled Treatment Plan Report. You may need to make a few follow-up calls to your patient before he or she decides which course of action to take. If you want more information on working the Treatment Manager Report, you can read my blog on the subject by clicking here.
Ø  Once your patient has decided on which treatment option to schedule, NEVER delete a treatment case. What you will want to do is “Accept” the treatment that is being scheduled and the software will automatically “Reject” the cases that were linked. This keeps a trail of what was presented, printed, followed up on, and when the patient accepted or rejected it.
If your office is still on Dentrix 11, none of this made much sense to you because the ability to link, accept, reject, and track cases wasn’t available until G2. This is definitely a big reason to upgrade now with proper documentation being so important in the age of paperless offices.