The treatment coordinator

May 1, 2002
Do patients seem to be falling through the cracks in your practice? Are you diagnosing but not treating what you diagnosed?

by Cathy Jameson, PhD

Do patients seem to be falling through the cracks in your practice? Are you diagnosing but not treating what you diagnosed? Do you think that you might have a practice within your practice? Is there dentistry sitting in the charts waiting to be done? You're not alone if you answer "yes" to any of these questions. It may be time to discover the benefits of a treatment coordinator.

When we integrated a treatment coordinator into our practice, productivity and collections hit an all-time high. This happened despite a slumping economy in our state. We projected a 15 percent increase in production and collections and accomplished a 20 percent increase. We believe our attention to extensive education, detail, and follow-up made this possible.

Dr. Lee Manser, professor of marketing at Oklahoma State University, says that "the difference between being average and being fantastic is minuscule." He suggests that the difference lies in the person or business (or dental practice) that goes the extra mile, does more than is expected, and is willing to follow-up.

Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up. It takes repetitive contact with a client in many instances before a decision to proceed is made. Patients who do not say "yes" right away are not contacted again until their next hygiene appointment. Consider a contact - or multiple contacts - long before that appointment.

The treatment coordinator may possess one of the most productive roles within the practice. She would be the person responsible for the follow-up on each patient who has necessary or desired dental care, but who is not scheduled. This is the person who tracks each patient from beginning to end. This is the person who could take your practice from "being average to being fantastic."

Don't think you have to hire a new person or add a new salary to your practice in order to develop this role. Many practices have a wonderful person already on the team who would be motivated by challenge. Put out the word that you are interested in developing this role, and see if someone on your team would love to maximize his or her talent in this exciting role. For most practices, this is not a full-time position (although it could be for a large or multi-doctor practice). You would carefully schedule this person's time just like you schedule the doctor, assistant, or hygienist.

In our opinion, the necessary characteristics of treatment coordinators are as follows:

  • Clinical knowledge.
  • Confident personality.
  • Comfortable quoting complete treatment plan fees. This includes having clear knowledge of all financial options.
  • Confident in the doctor's ability accomplish the described results.
  • Excellent communication skills, especially the skill of listening. They must have the ability to identify objections and to overcome them. It helps, of course, if they believe that the fees for the service are equitable for the treatment being rendered.
  • Superb organizational, telephone, and follow-up skills. They must have the ability to complete any paperwork.

Each office would refine this description to fit its own needs.

Take case presentation from being an "aside" in your practice to being the main focus in your practice. You will benefit and your patients will benefit.

Through the efforts of a treatment coordinator and the efforts of the entire team to fully integrate this concept, your practice can go to the next level. The time and effort put forth in the treatment coordinator position will be worth every penny you invest!

Cathy Jameson, PhD, is president of Jameson Management, Inc., an international dental lecture and consulting firm. She has been a featured speaker for the major dental meetings throughout the world and is an adjunct faculty member of the Oklahoma University School of Dentistry and associate professor at the NYU College of Dentistry. Her books, Great Communication = Great Production and Collect What You Produce are top sellers for PennWell Books. Contact Dr. Jameson at (580) 369-5555, or email cathy@jamesonmanage

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