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Part of the system


February 22, 2010 | Dental Products Report Think like a ceo Part of the system How each team member's role influences the practice's systems. by Dr. Wayne

February 22, 2010 | Dental Products Report
Think like a ceo

Part of the system

How each team member's role influences the practice's systems.

by Dr. Wayne D. Pernell, Pride Insitute Consultant

Photo: Erik Isakson/Getty Images 

Whether you’re the doctor, the hygienist, the front desk staff member, the assistant, or have a different role in the practice-what you do and how you do it affects the overall flow of each system in the office. Understanding your power to influence is crucial to practice success.

Front office team member

(scheduling coordinator, business/office manager, financial coordinator, etc.)

As the key administrative personnel, there is significant impact in all of the operating systems and critical impact in both scheduling and financial operations. Your ability to plan and sequence information affects whether there are holes in the schedule or if the practice’s cash flow is even and predictable. Your ability to talk with patients as they call in and come in allows for the creation of smooth, productive, profitable days. And your ability to communicate and collaborate effectively with the clinical staff supports the teamwork necessary to get the best results from all the systems.

By having a successful protocol in asking for payment, or negotiating options at the time a treatment plan is presented or having an effective collections process to follow through, the financial coordinator ensures the fiscal health of the practice.

An appointment coordinator manages the ideal schedule from the first phone call to confirmation verbal skills to managing delayed treatment and emergencies.

Dental assistant

“The patient's commitment to care is often in the assistant's hands.”

As the bridge and guide from the operatory to the front office, the assistant has the ability to influence scheduling, financial arrangements and the patient experience whether in restorative or hygiene. By guiding discussions, holding the patient's emotional motivators and reassuring that the patient is in the right place, the assistant builds value for the visit. And, in fully highlighting the reasons and need for the patient to come to the next visit, the assistant affects the patient’s willingness to schedule.

The patient’s commitment to care is often in the assistant’s hands. When the patient turns to ask, “Is this really necessary?,” the assistant’s quick and caring response is crucial. The baton pass of the patient and the important information about the patient’s next steps to the front office team can be the make-or-break for appointing and collection’s success.

Dental hygienist

While hygienists might be seen as focusing strictly on their own area, they are the co-pilots of the practice and affect all the major office systems dramatically. By operating proactively and discussing treatment needs with each patient, the hygienist not only builds value in terms of credibility for him or herself, but also builds value for the doctor.

By clearly defining the treatment needs (both periodontal as well as cosmetic and function) via intra-oral cameras, digital x-rays and more, the hygienist contributes to the overall health and flow within the practice by providing up to 60% of the ongoing patient production. Working with the admin and clinical teams, the hygienist is a major influencer in the systems of scheduling, financial arrangements, marketing and continuing care.


Well, dear doctor, what system don’t you influence? It’s your practice and your technical skills keep the doors open. The thing is it’s your people skills-your chairside manner-that allows for patients to feel valued and in turn, to value the practice by honoring their commitments and referring friends and family.

Want new patients? Ask the patients you’re seeing today to send you their friends and family members. Want to know when you can schedule a patient for a follow-up visit? Listen at the huddle when the scheduling coordinator addresses open production blocks.

Your technical skills may be what you take pride in, but it’s your ability to communicate with your patients and team members that affects each of the key systems throughout the practice.

The bottom line is that all team members affect each of the systems. Share the information you have at the morning huddle or at your regular staff meetings. All the best to you for smooth systems throughout the practice!


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