Welcome back! This week’s post is part II of a two-part series on the Treatment Coordinator position. If you missed last week’s post, you can find it here.
We left off last week on the subject of what a Treatment Coordinator can do that would be proactive with regards to increasing office productions and collections. We’ll answer that in this week’s post, along with what statistics you would want to track to measure performance, along with tips for managing a Treatment Coordinator’s day.
So, let’s assume that the Treatment Coordinator is keeping up with the in-office traffic. And by keeping up, I mean handling it WELL. They have and are demonstrating an adequate competency in handling every patient. They’re also not short on time and failing to close cases as a result (in which case you might need two Treatment Coordinators or maybe the OM or someone else to jump in on an “all-hands” basis).
They’re able to adequately handle all new patient treatment presentations (both second opinions and presentations after an initial exam), presentations to patients of record coming out of recall and any other in-office traffic that comes their way. And this of course assumes they are also moving financial arrangements on these bigger treatment plans through to a DONE.
(Related: What Should a Treatment Coordinator Do?)
Now, you’ll notice that all of this traffic is dependent on others in the office – the scheduler or hygiene coordinator for patients of record and the scheduler (and the office’s marketing) for new patients. And while that’s good – and why we have an organization – what else should the Treatment Coordinator be doing to beef up the schedule on their own steam.
Well, let’s start with two things: Patients from the “Incomplete Treatment List,” and “Recent Presentation Follow-Ups.”
1. Patients on the Incomplete Treatment List.
This would consist primarily of patients that have been diagnosed and have not accepted their treatment plan. Many offices have a list of these patients – the infamous “incomplete treatment list.” Now in theory this list seems pretty cool. You add patients to it, and you can call them to fill openings on the doctor’s schedule, right? Maybe they’re ready to proceed! Well, if you’re like 99.99% of dental offices you find that it does NOT work this way in reality. You call and get the same answer you got when they were in the office! No.
And why does this happen? Well, the patient is not “closed,” on doing the treatment! So, unless something drastically changed, chances are they are even less willing to do the treatment plan now than they were when they told you “no” three months ago!
So, what do we do?
Well, assuming you have a sharp skill-set as a Treatment Coordinator and your doctor can communicate and sell, the key is simple: get them back IN the office. Attempting to close them on the phone, beyond being a little weird, doesn’t work out that well. Maybe it happens once in a while – but its not a consistently dependable method. Seeing this patient face to face is your best chance at closing this case and helping this patient. Beyond this, and depending on the time that has elapsed since diagnosis, things may have changed in this patient’s mouth and become worse. They need to come in and see the doctor before we go any further.
(Related: 3 Techniques to Improve Employee Phone Skills)
We can divide these patients into two categories:
1. Patient that is overdue for recall
If you have a patient on the incomplete treatment list that is overdue for recall – schedule them for their recall appointment! Maybe they are being called/contacted – maybe they’re not. In any event, coordinate with the Scheduler or OM and work out helping to get these patients scheduled. And make sure they show up! When they get in, they can follow the standard recall exam to consult line within the office.
2. Patient that is not due for recall
If you have a patient that isn’t due for a few months, weeks or whatever, you can call them back in for a brief appointment with the doctor. You may ask them about the treatment whether they are ready to proceed. Some may say yes, in which case great (but remember they have to see the doc to review where they are at treatment-wise). The vast majority will say they’re still “thinking about it,” or whatever their reasoning not to proceed was. And that’s fine. But until they decide, the doctor must keep an eye on this as they are the doctor’s patient and the doctor is responsible. The doctor needs to make sure everything is stable because there is (whatever the case may be, active infection, decay, cracks, etc.). So the doctor would like them to come in for a for a follow up appointment and – it’s free. Work with the doctor and OM to determine how you want to present this in your office – the doctor may call it a “quick check,” or whatever he or she thinks is appropriate. You can also use this approach for patients that were diagnosed needing perio therapy and didn’t accept (and therefore never made it on the recall schedule).
(Related: Ask Sabri: Scheduling, New Patient Appointments and Staff Turnover)
You’ll notice the recurring theme here is TO GET THEM BACK INTO THE OFFICE TO SEE THE DOCTOR AND THEN THE TREATMENT COORDINATOR. That is after all, the best shot you have at helping this patient getting them moving on their treatment plan.
2. Recent Presentation Follow-Ups
You’ve presented treatment to this patient recently and for whatever reason it’s not accepted and started. Maybe the patient had to talk to their spouse, or check their schedule, didn’t have time to wrap financial arrangements, etc.
Well, we could put this on the “Incomplete Treatment List,” and let it sit for months…which is probably not a great idea. The longer you wait, the less excited the patient is about starting treatment. So, you’d follow up and work with the patient to handle whatever came up. Maybe they need to speak to their spouse. You might even schedule to have them come back in to see the doctor with their spouse, and the doctor can explain the treatment to their spouse face-to-face. You might even end up with a new patient out of the deal if their spouse isn’t a patient. Maybe they need to schedule to come back in to wrap finances. It all depends on whatever reason there was for wrapping things up when they were in last.
The key here is SPEED. Don’t wait too long to follow up and allow their enthusiasm to dampen.
(Related: 5 Ways to Make Your Dental Office Stand Out from Everyone Else)
By following up on recent presentations and incomplete treatment, the Treatment Coordinator can not only augment the schedule and stay proactive on their job, they can get a lot more patients back in and onto their needed treatment plans.
So, with all of this in mind, what would the Treatment Coodinator’s day look like? While this will vary by the day and office. It might look something like this:
As an aside, this all assumes the Treatment Coordinator knows what his or her daily, monthly and weekly goals are.
- Review the schedule for the day and see if anything has changed with relation to what they have lined up for the day – i.e. if they planned to collect $1,000 from Mrs. Jones today and she’s now not coming in they would need to account for this.
- Attend the Morning Production Meeting. How to do a Morning Production Meeting is fully detailed here.
- Work their schedule out for the day based on what was discussed in the Morning Production Meeting – i.e. after the meeting the Treatment Coordinator would know when they are seeing which patient for a presentation.
- During the in-between periods when not with a patient, work on calling follow-ups and the Incomplete Treatment List as above.
Note, in managing the day, you have to take a short and longer-term view with relation to your daily and monthly goals. For instance, if you’ve got today pretty well lined up to hit your goal, but tomorrow or the day after (or next Monday) is light, you’d have to ensure you had time on the phone to beef this up. Or, you might ensure that the new patients coming in today are brought back tomorrow or the day after for a consultation if there’s no time to present today.
In other words, manage the position with your goal in mind as well.
Statistics to Track Performance and Help with Office Growth
Statistics the Treatment Coordinator would want to monitor on a daily, weekly and monthly basis would be:
- NUMBER OF CONSULTS: Number of consult visits seen by the office. This would include if you see the patient the same day or if the patient comes back on another day for the consult.
Conventional thinking has been to only do Consult appointments for “big cases,” i.e. 8-10 crowns, an all-on-four implant case and so on. Well, why reserve this type of appointment only for massive treatment plans? A patient that needs two implants or three crowns may need 20-30 minutes to get all of their questions answered.
Work with the OM and doctor to determine what size case would warrant a consult in your office, it doesn’t just have to be massive ones! And I’d bet that if you had two consults this morning that accepted a total of three implants (placement and restoration) and five crowns both you and the doctor would be happy!
And remember this concept of time and how it is related to sales. We cited some articles last week on it that you can see here and here. You have to have enough undistracted time for the doctor to present treatment and answer a patient’s questions. That doesn’t just apply to huge treatment plans. On the flip side, a couple of composites or a single crown should not require a consult…that’s easy to explain.
Ideally, consult time would be built into the schedule and the OM, doctor and Treatment Coordinator would monitor how many consults are schedule and done.
- $ VALUE TREATMENT PRESENTED: Total $ value of treatment plans presented to patients.
- $ VALUE OF TREATMENT ACCEPTED: Total $ value of treatment accepted by patients. By accepted is meant the patient has signed-up for the treatment and financial arrangements are made.
These two statistics – especially #3 above can tell you what the doctor’schedule is going to look like in the weeks to come. So, they should be tracked by the OM, doctor and Treatment Coordinator. As an aside, they are also useful as a comparative – what if the doctor is presenting a bunch of treatment but acceptance is low – well something needs to be fixed! Or even worse – what if the doctor is diagnosing a bunch of treatment and it’s not even being presented! Maybe the consult process needs an overhaul.
I mentioned in last week’s post that a Treatment Coordinator can do their job passively or proactively. Proactive means taking responsibility from the Treatment Coordinator position for the entire patient base and making sure they are accepting the treatment they need.
In my view, this is an incredibly important position since you participate closely in helping patients get healthier. And you have the ability to make or break the business financially… no pressure!
But if you do this job correctly with proper coordination with your doctor, hygienist and the rest of the team, have enough foresight to put your days together properly, and have enough care for the patient to help overcome their objections so they can get the treatment they need to be healthy, it is probably one of the more rewarding positions in a dental practice.
I hope this article helped you get a better idea of the Treatment Coordinator position! If you have any questions at all, feel free to email me at SabriB@mgeonline.com or call us at (800) 640-1140. And if you’re serious about training yourself and the entire team so you’re all on the same page, come to one of our seminars or sign up for DDS Success!
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