By Lisa Philp, RDH, President of Transitions Group North America
The responsibilities of treatment coordinators are vast. So is the value they add to your practice.
There is an increasing prevalence — and importance —of Treatment Coordinators; skilled colleagues who can help a practice increase its case acceptance by up to 20 percent. That’s a laudable figure, but what should a treatment coordinator ultimately be responsible for to help make it happen? Choosing the right one can make all the difference between a practice that’s moderately successful and one that’s extravagantly so.
Opinions vary, but in my experience the core characteristics of a good treatment coordinator are self-confidence, strong relationship and communication skills, an optimistic attitude and a genuine curiosity about people.
High emotional intelligence and empathy (not sympathy — an important distinction) are imperative, as is a strong motivation to solve problems and work toward financial solutions for patients who need persuasion to make dentistry a regular feature of their lives.
That’s an awful lot of responsibility. How might it play out day to day?
NEW-PATIENT ORGANIZATION. Treatment coordinators are the first point of contact for new patients, often via telephone. This first call can take up to 15 minutes, which in multiples can be a little difficult to fit into a practice’s daily operations. (Add “good time management” to that list of core characteristics above.) Your T.C. will also serve as an orientation committee for new patients, providing them with a welcome package, ensuring they’ll show up for that crucial first visit, giving them a tour of the practice and then sitting down with them to assuage anxieties and determine their goals for their dental health.
FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS ON THE FLY. Patients coming from their hygiene visit with previously diagnosed needs or (especially) new diagnoses will need a more in-depth look at their financials: overall affordability and available options to help defray costs.
PREDETERMINATION MANAGEMENT. Although predetermination doesn’t really fall under the case-acceptance rubric, it might very well be necessary if the patient is serious about dental treatment. Foreknowledge of coverage particulars benefits both your practice and your patients. Then, once predetermination is returned, your T.C. will need to follow up at once with patients to keep them moving along the treatment track.
CONSULT PREPARATION. When a patient is invited back for a separate consultation, the treatment coordinator handles the logistics, preparing the plan, letters, documents, visuals and room setup for the patient and any of his or her family who might attend.
TRACKING CASE ACCEPTANCE. Here, the job comes full circle, as the treatment coordinator tracks diagnosed and planned treatment for patients, calculating acceptance rates and, often, assembling a monthly summary for the entire dental team.
Crucial variables all, for sure — and a skilled treatment coordinator is one who can handle each of them with aplomb. That’s what leads to increased case acceptance, and tangible value added for your practice that far exceeds the cost of an additional staff member.
Lisa Philp RDH, is the Chief Visionary Officer of Transitions Group North America, a full-service coaching company for dentistry. Her career began with clinical hygiene in the United States and Canada that led to the creation of a periodontal disease management program in which she coached thousands of dental professionals. She is currently a leader, author, and coach and highly sought after North American speaker.