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a blog by Chris Barrow

A reminder about triaging patients

Charlie Fox makes a good point in commenting on my recent blog post Summer is here There are practices where a strong perio and hygiene list are being maintained and the books are full for the hygiene/therapy team. This, of course, will fly in the face of convention for some dental principals, who cannot imagine a world in which the patients could be happier to see a hygienist/therapist than they are a dentist. Wake up. I was working with a client the other day whose average yield per new patient is £3500 but average daily yield stands at £3000. (quick reality check – that is fantastic) Clearly, if the Principal could deal with new patients only – it would increase revenues into the practice by £100,000 a year! “Impossible!” shout The Front Desk team “the patients are always asking for Elvis and if they don’t get to see him they complain, either because they have been seeing him for years, or because they have completed their new treatment and feel that they are now being fobbed off to the lower echelons in the practice'” Solution? It’s about explaining to ALL patients, new and old, that you have decided to stop being a 20th Century practice and start being a 21st Century practice. I’ve talked about this before and have even (in a previous ezine) spelled out the conversation. Any new patient, after rapport has been established with a treatment co-ordinator and after the patients needs have been established, should be “introduced to the brand”. “Here at XYZ Dental, we don’t operate like old fashioned dentists, we do things in a more modern and effective way. Imagine a building with three floors. The ground floor is the ER – the emergency and repair shop. The first floor is the long term maintenance shop. The top floor is the cosmetic and advanced shop. Our Principal, Dr Elvis works on the top floor, investing his time, skills and experience in delivering the very latest dentistry, using the latest equipment and techniques, staying in touch with the latest clinical developments. On the first floor we have a team of hygienists, therapist and dentists who are experts at long term care. On the ground floor we have a team who are experts at dealing with emergencies. Our rapid response team – because we know you want to get out of trouble quickly. So during your lifetime as a member of XYZ Dental, you will probably deal with team members on all three floors, hopefully as infrequently as possible on the ground floor, occasionally with Dr Elvis on the top floor – but the bulk of your time on the first floor with the long term care team. Any time you want to talk to Dr Elvis he will be available, just ask. You may even see him pop his head in from time to time. The benefits of this to you are: 1. few delays or queues 2. expert treatment at all times 3. and at the right price Frank Sinatra didn’t move pianos – you wouldn’t hire Jensen Button to drive a milk float – and there is little point in asking Dr Elvis to do routine work. So welcome to XYZ Dental, where we are focused on the needs of the patient.” The reality is that ALL existing patients of Dr Elvis will need the same (but slightly different) conversation with the TCO at some stage. That is Dr Elvis’s escape route and the shortest route to a HUGE increase in productivity. My experience is that patients are quite happy to see the ‘perio team’ on a regular basis and have that as their main relationship with the practice. It’s is hugely effective, productive and profitable. Thanks again, Charlie, for the reminder.

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