Software's sweet spot

March 21, 2012
Abbey Levine
Issue 6

June 4, 2010 | dentalproductsreport.com Photo: Getty Images/Don Farrall

June 4, 2010 | dentalproductsreport.com

Photo: Getty Images/Don Farrall

It’s not unusual for a practice to invest a lot of research, time and money into finding the perfect practice management software that supports real patient management strategies. However, there never seems to be enough time to train the team to fully utilize any software’s many tools. The responsibility ends up falling on one or two key staff members, when it is the entire team that must be accountable for ideal patient care.

To give you an idea about just how much this can handicap your practice, let’s look at what patient management information must be extracted just to facilitate your morning huddle, making the team armed and ready to exceed patient expectations.

Key patient management tools

Your software facilitates patient management in all aspects of your practice. Consider this:

  • Routing slips will list all treatment that has been presented and let you know if and when the patient is scheduled. This gives the team an opportunity to review the patient’s motivators and concerns. Whether in hygiene or in the dentist’s chair, there can be meaningful conversations about each patient’s unique treatment plan, concerns or challenges. If the patient is already scheduled, the team looks sharp because everyone is aware of the exact date and time of the scheduled appointment and can use this as an opportunity to reinforce the value of the coming treatment.

  • Routing slips also can be used to highlight how long a patient has been with the practice and who referred him or her. Share this information at your huddle to help build and reinforce solid relationships with all of your patients. Research shows that patient loyalty and treatment acceptance is truly relationship based. It adds a very personalized touch when, for example, your RDA greets and seats the patient and asks, “Do you realize you have been a patient with us for 15 years?” A specialist may say something like, “It seems like all the patients referred by Dr. Gordon become our favorites.” or “We all smile when we see your name on the schedule.”

  • As you can see, your “new best friend” is the routing slip. Another important feature is that most routing slips allow you to see the patient’s account balance and insurance information. Knowing who has an outstanding balance allows the team to discuss the best strategies to collect that balance during the huddle. Clinical staff can be directed to hand the patient off to the Financial Coordinator rather than just escorting him or her to the front desk. Team awareness of past due balances will mean fewer patients quietly slipping out the door with out stopping at the desk.

  • Another key factor in patient management is efficient time management. Most software allows you to quickly and easily see your next production block, next new patient appointment and next available time for smaller procedures. Having that information allows the clinical team to help fill the schedule and demonstrate to patients what a well-oiled team you have. It’s easier to get the patient to commit to treatment while they are in the office, receiving excellent care, than calling them by phone. Being prepared means fewer missed opportunities to dazzle your patients.

  • Most programs have a function to track your lab cases. A “lab manager” report can tell you where your cases are, so say goodbye to scrambling and stress.

  • The Birthday List, run once per month or for a specific date, allows you to make your patient feel extra special when you acknowledge the date and deliver best wishes.

Just getting started
These are just a few of the ways your practice management software puts pertinent information right at your fingertips. When your morning huddle is filled with great information regarding the patient experience, the team can start off the day focused and well prepared. And that will make everyone relaxed and more productive. Patients feel the “vibe” the minute they open the door to your office. They feel the happy hum and know they have chosen the right practice. That feeling, even if it’s subliminal, puts your patients in the frame of mind to feel good about their dentist and helps them to value the care they receive.

Who would have thought that fully utilizing your software could have such a profound effect on your practice?? It’s amazing, isn’t it?

Abbey Levine is a Pride Institute Consultant. She holds a BS from the University of South Florida and an MS in Counseling/Psychology from Dominican College. 

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