Updated: Mar 20, 2020
How a Treatment Coordinator can benefit a practice in more ways than one.
For many experienced Dental Nurses, or even experienced and confident Dental Administrators, Treatment Coordinating is a role that is becoming increasingly popular.
When I started my Dental Nursing Career in 2008, Treatment Coordinating was not really mentioned or shared as a career path. Dental Nursing in its self is a great career. It is even more desirable when you understand that really, a Dental Nursing Qualification is a great stepping stone towards many other pathways and having this qualification, definitely opens many more doors of opportunity.
For Specialist Dental Practices, having a Treatment Coordinator greatly supports the patients and the practice and can really benefit the whole team. But most importantly, how wonderful for patients to have a direct contact, that will be dedicated to them and their dental journey throughout their treatment plan and thereafter. That is the real benefit of having a Treatment Coordinator in your practice, having that extra support to provide high levels of attention and patient care. It is a great sense of accomplishment for any passionate DCP, carrying out Treatment Coordinating duties.
With Dental Implants, Orthodontic and Multi-disciplinary treatment plans, having a Treatment Coordinator is a must and here are a few of Diamond Dental Staff's top reasons why;
1) The best recommendation is word of mouth. Providing a professional and personable service, means a great reputation amongst your patients, their families & friends and the local community. Referrers will also want to refer patients to practices where they feel confident that their patients will be well looked after, and where there is a direct, consistent point of contact, for them to be updated with any progress in their patients treatment.
2) Patients are paying a large sum of money for essential, or aesthetic dental treatments and want to feel like they have received value for money. Patients put off going to the Dentists for two main reasons; one being out of fear, and the other due to the associated costs. Having a Treatment Coordinator can ease and reassure anxious patients, introducing them into the practice and the team slowly to build their confidence, ensuring they feel listened to, as well as having discreet conversations regarding finance options/payment plans and prioritising essential treatment.
3) Save clinical time. If the diary is planned well, after new patient consultations or initial assessment, a Treatment Coordinator can collect a hand over from the clinician of the proposed treatment plan and escort the patient to another room to discuss all treatment options in great detail. This could extend to another appointment at a later date (as some patients really do need that time to digest all the information). This saves a great amount of the clinicians time and allows the patients to ask any questions and confidently agree to, and understand their treatment plan (without feeling rushed). Having an experienced Dental Nurse with extended duties, should have those skills fully utilised. Another example of utilising experienced and trained DCP's, can be following an initial clinical assessment, with the relevant qualifications (Dental Radiography / Impression taking), Clinicians can refer their patients to the Dental Nurse / Treatment Coordinator for records planning; radiographs, impressions for study models/wax-ups/bite guards/whitening trays, pre-treatment clinical photographs and to collect consent for the proposed treatment. As you can imagine, this saves a great deal of the clinicians time. With all records at hand, and a confirmed treatment plan from the Clinician to the Treatment Coordinator, all relevant appointments can be scheduled, with set courses of treatment and pre-booked lab work for a well organised, consistent practice.
Other duties include great organisation skills, tracking new patient leads, treatment plans, follow-ups and review appointments, pre and post operative calls and liaising with referring practices. There is a great understanding of the importance of working closely with internal and external colleagues, informing Dental Nurses on future appointments to help them prepare surgeries, equipment and materials. Some Treatment Coordinators may also like to get involved in the Marketing of the Practice, auditing the response and target audience. (Another post on social media will follow)
Now then... the word 'Sales' makes us feel quite uncomfortable. Yes, Dentistry is a business, but lets not loose sight of Dentistry being a professional service, with patient care and the General Dental Councils Principals at its absolute core. With that in mind, is it ethical to market this role as a sales position?
The thought of this makes us feel uneasy. The role of a Treatment Coordinator most definitely increases the productivity of the practice and greatly promotes successfully completed treatment plans.
This is mostly due to a great tracking system, patience and a commitment in building professional rapports with patients, answering any concerns, discussing alternative treatment options, negotiating payment options and delivering high levels of customer service and overall great patient care. This may ruffle some feathers, but the whole 'sales' role, of a Treatment Coordinator, just seems that this has the potential to apply pressure on our DCP's to meet financial targets. You cant possible 'sell' a treatment plan, this is not the attitude our DCP's should adopt.
You can inform the patient of the pros and cons of alternative treatment options, whats involved, cost/benefit ratio and advise them on the safest, minimally invasive approach and allow the patients time to digest all options to make an informed decision. Not everyone will want to opt for dentures, with Dental Implants becoming increasingly popular, and informative marketing campaigns, payment plans and multiple practices providing this treatment, it is now an easily accessible treatment option, but it may not always be in the patients best interest. Any one with a 'sales' approach may inadvertently 'push' for this, to meet targets.
Word of mouth, honest, trusted and ethical approaches to follow up avoided treatment plans and having an efficient treatment coordinator, will naturally increase the practices turnover, without including a 'sales role' attitude. The whole 'Sales' term should be avoided at all costs, unless it involves an electric toothbrush!
Diamond Dental Staff would like to hear your view on this topic and how the role of a Treatment Coordinator benefits your team and practice. Whether you currently have a Treatment Coordinator, or are considering introducing this role, it would be great to hear your thoughts.
Dental Nurse & Managing Director
Diamond Dental Staff Ltd