I am always sad when the football season is coming to an end. It is my favorite sport and, even when I am traveling, I will seek out sports bars or watch the games on the free Southwest Airlines TV. Football reminds me of the dental office in a lot of ways because of the teamwork involved to pull off some of the plays, especially the hand-off. It’s the hand-off between the back and the front office that requires a lot of teamwork and practice.
The hand-off between the front and the back needs to be a well-choreographed dance in order for the patient to leave feeling well taken care of and leave the team with all the details in place. The patient hand-off does not just happen by chance. It is a system in the office that requires practice and a lot of communication. There are a few different ways to perform the hand-off depending on what works best in your office and how much technology you want to integrate into your office. What works best in your office is when the entire team is all on the same page and willing to participate 100%. This means everyone on the team must agree to the system, learn the system and practice the system until he or she feels comfortable with it. This way, you will minimize the possibility of a fumble.
- The verbal hand-off will only work if you are handing off to a team member who is not on a phone call or helping another patient. If you are going to use the verbal hand-off in your practice and your front office team member is on the phone or helping another patient, you will need to wait until you have his or her full attention so you can transfer the important details for the checkout process. Many offices are using headsets or walkie-talkies for this and it works well if you create a good system of communication.
- A paper hand-off can work extremely well by using the Dentrix Route Slip or the Visit Form. Even though I help dental practices transition from paper charts to electronic health records, using a paper communication tool can be a lifesaver in a busy office. Using a Route Slip or Visit Form will allow you to easily transfer the key information to your front desk team, even if they are finishing up a phone call. Then just shred them at the end of the day. No worries!
- The electronic hand-off is a fairly new and up-and-coming system that is working well in the dental office. There are new ways to send information up to the front desk using your computer and instant message. The electronic communication systems do require more technology training and buy-in from your team. Many offices are using the Dentrix DentaLink instant messaging system to send up a message to their front office before the patient walks up to the front with all the details needed to check out the patient and schedule their next visit. This system is included in your Dentrix customer service plan and you can try it out to see if it might work for you. A new system that has come on board with Dentrix is a dashboard called Simplifeye. It lets you drag and drop your patient appointments into and out of the treatment rooms, send messages and helps track time spent in the practice. It also comes with your Dentrix customer support plan or you can upgrade to the premium plan that syncs to your iWatch and iPhone.
The hand-off is a communication system that cannot go untouched. This system is the last impression your patient will have with the practice until he or she returns for the next visit. It is a representation of your team, your practice and can be a make-or-break moment for an awesome review. Show your patients that you do not fumble on the hand-off and that you have a seamless transition from the back to the front.