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Achieve a seamless transfer of patients within the dental practice

Ensure accuracy, continuity, and a positive dental patient experience in 3 easy steps

Team Wisdom

Transitioning a patient from the clinical team to the administrative team is a key moment in dental practice operations. It’s the bridge between clinical care and patient management, ensuring continuity, accuracy, a positive patient experience, a full schedule, and a healthy collections process. When it comes to dental revenue cycle management - consider this the first layer, and every bit as important as all of the others. 

A well-structured handoff process involves clear communication and documentation, minimizing the chance of errors and enhancing the patient experience. Here’s how to achieve it in 3 easy steps:

Step 1: End-of-Appointment Confirmation in the Back Office

Before the Patient Leaves the Chair:

  • confirm treatment: 
    • the clinical team member should confirm with the doctor what was done during the appointment 
  • update the ledger: 
    • immediately post the treatment to the patient’s ledger to ensure accuracy.
  • discuss next steps: 
    • the doctor should clearly state the next steps in the treatment plan.
  • schedule the next appointment: 
    • if this is not possible, be prepared to give the administrative team all of the information they need to do so.  

Completion of these steps ensures: 

  • accurate and timely updates to the patient’s records
  • clear expectations and understanding for the patient about their treatment
  • an opportunity to address any changes in the treatment plan in real-time
  • future appointments get scheduled and don’t fall through the cracks 

Step 2: Seamless Transition to the Admin Team

At the Front Desk:

  • the clinical team member should use a route slip with notes if possible, and: some text
    • state what treatment was completed today, being mindful of HIPAA 
    • state the next procedure needed, again being mindful of HPAA
    • state the recommended timeframe for the next visit
    • state appointment length
    • confirm if the next routine hygiene appointment is scheduled

Completion of these steps ensures:

  • the admin team has all necessary information to proceed efficiently
  • prevention of delays in scheduling the next appointment
  • a professional and cohesive approach to patient care

Step 3: Admin Team Completes Check Out

Before the Patients Leaves The Office:

  • review the treatment plan: ensure understanding, and address any changes or updates, with HIPAA in mind
  • schedule the next appointment:
    • confirm the urgency and duration with the patient to ensure they understand what to expect, and schedule accordingly
    • schedule the next routine hygiene appointment if needed
  • collect any balance due for that day
  • create the insurance claim while current rendered treatment is fresh in your mind

Completion of these steps ensures:

  • reinforcement of the importance of continuity in care
  • ensuring the patient leaves with a clear understanding of their next steps
  • maintaining a full and productive schedule
  • patient collections are up to date
  • accurate claims are created in a timely manner

Expert tip:  Regularly practice these handoffs within your team to ensure everyone is comfortable and clear on their roles, and use scripts to guide conversations and support consistency and habit.

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