How to Improve Your Profitability through a Treatment Coordinator by Lina Craven

People don’t like to follow pessimists” is one of my favourite quotes from Bob Iger former CEO of Disney. In his book The Ride of A Lifetime, Bob Iger outlines 10 principles that helped him succeed as a leader. His first principle is Optimism. He says, “Optimism is about believing in yourself and your employees’ abilities”. 

An effective practice ensures that every member of its team has a purpose that is fully exploited for the practice’s benefit. Yet I often see underutilised staff to their full potential and so they become bored or complacent.  Whilst every member of the team represents a cog in your wheel of success there are ‘key’ staff that will help you steer the business towards your main objective. Key Staff may include a business manager, head of front of house, lead nurse, and a social media or marketing champion.  

In this second part of the four series of articles, I will explore the use of key staff and specifically that of a Treatment Coordinator (TC). Empowering your TC to maximise his/her ability to help you to increase your case acceptance. 

You might think that in financially challenging times the last thing you need is a new member of staff. For a practice to thrive and prosper in a difficult financial climate, however, it has to become more efficient, more competitive and more profitable.  One way to do that is to introduce a TC into the team or if you already have one, provide appropriate training with realistic objectives.

What is the true role of a Treatment Coordinator?

A TC is someone in your practice who, with the right skills and training will facilitate the new patient process. They bridge the gap between the patient and the practice. A TC can often reduce up to 60% of ‘doctor time’. You work out the maths!

What qualities does an exceptional TC possess? 

  1. Is organised
  2. Is able to manage his/her time
  3. Is a self-starter
  4. Is a great listener
  5. Possesses excellent communication skills
  6. Understands & appreciates the specialty they work in
  7. Promotes & ethically sells the services you provide
  8. Is a team leader
  9. Understands the practice’s big picture
  10. Inspires!

I once asked Mary – Barry Buckley’s first Treatment Coordinator in Dental Options Ireland, “Why do you think the TC role is crucial for the practice’s BIG picture? Mary’s response was: 

“it really is the gold standard in customer service and patient care”. I couldn’t have described it any better! 

What are the responsibilities of the TC?

Below you find my preferred New Patient Process. Next to each stage, I have highlighted who in the team is best suited to carry out the task:

New Patient Process:

ReferralsFront of house
Initial contact TC – Support TC
Welcome packTC – Support TC
Confirmation of appointment TC – Front of house

During the consultation:
‘Getting to know you’, scan, photosTC and nurse if appropriate
Clinical examClinician and nurse
Diagnosis and case presentationClinician and TC
Appliance, before & after photosTC
Benefits, financial options andTC
Breaking down barriers TC

At completion:
Walk out pack TC
Tracking and Follow upTC

Whether you have a TC in place or you are considering a new role in your practice, the following questions ought to be asked when assessing the role:

Does the TC have effective questioning techniques?

Does he or she understand the features and benefits of each brace option you offer?

Are they confidently presenting payment options?  

Does the TC know appropriate objection-handling techniques?

Does the TC genuinely get patients excited about treatment?

Can the role be filled internally? 

There are no hard and fast rules. It depends upon the size and aspirations of your practice and the qualities of your existing members of the team. Only this past month, a clinician and I were able to shortlist 4 out of 15 team members as possible Treatment Coordinators. After remote training and virtual chats with them, we decided to share the role between two staff. However, I have assisted practices with hiring their TC’s with no dental experience whatsoever. The role and the person must fit your practice needs and culture. 

Do you offer to pay a ‘sales’ bonus above their salary?

This is a dividing topic among many clinicians. However, my answer would be yes. If and only if the bonus is attached to realistic objectives and the TC(s) are looking after your patients not only until they sign up for treatment but throughout by simply making courtesy calls mid-way through treatment and at the end. Do not forget TC’s will also support you with getting existing patients to refer others!

Virtual new patient consultations are proving to be very popular and whilst in-person consultations will always be my priority, I accept and encourage the fast-moving technology and current needs. So having a Treatment Coordinator appropriately trained to do both types of consults is absolutely crucial. 

A winning role

Augmenting your team with a Treatment Coordinator can reap tremendous rewards for you, the team and your patients. A TC’s tailored and personal approach to care, follow up and communication with patients fosters trust and increased patient satisfaction and patient retention. 

Article by Lina Craven


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