Good Dentist Office Communication

Good dentist office communication begins with clear and frequent conversations between the dentist and their staff. Good communication is essential from a risk management perspective.  You should establish communication procedures that promote efficient transmittal of information. This prevents messages that can be overlooked or misinterpreted. You want to create an atmosphere in which your staff is quick to ask questions if they don’t understand your instructions. It is important to identify the needs of your staff and express your needs. Frequently scheduled staff meetings improve communication and resolves problems.

Good Dentist Office Communication begins with proper phone handling

Phone calls to your office are the patient’s first contact with your practice. Initial phone calls create the patients first impression of the dentist.  Below are some points to communicate to your staff.

  • Instruct your staff to never diagnose or prescribe medications over the telephone.
  • Remind your staff to act well within their professional boundaries.
  • Information such as patient visits, who handled the treatment, and services rendered should only be given out to the patient.
  • Good dental office communication should have a  written priority list for how phone calls are to be handled.  When a call should be put through immediately to you i.e. emergencies (both when you’re in the office and when you’re out of the office). You can instruct your staff that non-emergencies, routine prescriptions and non urgent patient reports can be returned when you have time.  Most of the time your staff should be able to handle calls regarding patient appointments, insurance claims, fees or billing questions.
  • It is best if you rehearse common scenarios with your staff like some frequently asked questions.  Your staff should be instructed to avoid putting a patient on hold. Try to make sure they never come across as bored or annoyed.  Let the patient describe the situation they are calling about.  When they take a message – it should be detailed and precise.
  • Provide the basic tools, telephone log and message pads with a place for the date, time,  phone numbers, name of patient, and nature of the call.  Let your staff know what constitutes an emergency –  i.e toothache, chipped or broken tooth, knocked out tooth, etc.
  • List of frequently needed telephone numbers should be easy to find such as hospitals, referring dentists and pharmacies. You should have a private intercom system or hold button to allow your staff to speak with you in private without the caller or others overhearing.
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