The introduction of a Treatment Coordinator will change the actual approach to new patient care with the benefit for both sides, patient and the practice.
Despite the fact that lots of practices seem to know how to attract patients, their case acceptance ratio is low-level. The whole effort and opportunity wasted! The first contact, very first visit and follow up are the most critical elements of the new patient process, yet they typically represent a wasted opportunity as a consequence of a lack of skills, focus, time or all three.
To investigate more about the benefits of having Treatment Coordinator in the dental practice I decided to find someone in London. It was not easy! Most of the dental practices do not have such position. Finally, I found one in Shades Clinic in Ealing, very polite and friendly gentleman Amar Baden.
Amar, Tell me a bit about your background. How did you get first started with Treatment Coordination?
I’d spent a lot of Sunday’s in dental practices growing up, sitting in an adjacent room doing my revision whilst my Father worked next door. During these times, I used to hear him really taking the time to explain the treatment to his patients, not just to the standard of ‘consent’, but so that the patients genuinely understood what their situation was, and the options that were available to them.
I feel that that effort, honesty and transparency, really resonated with patients; they felt empowered and a participant in their care – as opposed to just a ‘patient’ passively accepting the treatment. Coming to university, I became acutely aware of how aesthetic dentistry could transform people’s confidence.
After initially taking a part-time role alongside my studies as a receptionist at Shades, I found myself sitting down with patients and people who’d simply popped in from the street alike, discussing with to the various options on offer at Shades, answering their questions, and showing how them how modern procedures in dentistry – many of which the patients had never heard of – had the potential to help them. From these initial conversations, I eventually made the full switch to become the Practice’s treatment co-ordinator.
What does the role involve?
In short, my role is to always be there for the patient and to make their journey with us as smooth as possible. This can entail many things: in some cases, this might involve an initial consultation with a patient, to assess the concerns they have about their smile, and for us to truly establish what it is they trying to achieve, and then subsequently putting together plan that works around the patient to accomplish this, by working with the range of clinicians at Shades to organize the treatment and bring the plan to life. In other cases, it can simply be talking to a patient about an upcoming restorative treatment and answering any questions they may have about a procedure.
What attributes would you say are important to being a successful Treatment Coordinator?
As cliché as it sounds, I feel it’s the ability to listen. As dentists, it’s easy to see patients as ‘just another case’ especially in the middle of a busy day, but for many patients, it’s only with time that they begin to explain the other, smaller, issues about their smile that bother them. It’s from these long conversations, that we can begin to lay the foundations for a more personal and tailored plan, which will clearly yield far more benefits for our patients. I also think effective TCO’s recognise the subtle differences between patients, and can then appreciate on this basis that a particular patient may be better suited to one treatment over another.
Why is so important for a patient to speak with you first instead direct consultation with the dentist?
In modern dentistry, there are so many options and alternative treatments that can be used in a given case, that it’s important that the patient is given the opportunity to sit down and consider them all. By firstly booking an appointment with a TCO, the patient is afforded this opportunity, and also has plenty of time to express what it is they want to achieve through their treatment at Shades. By doing this, when the patient sees the dentist the case isn’t having to be started from scratch. I will have liaised with the dentist before their appointment and informed him of the case, and various personalized plans will have been considered before the patient even sits the chair. Not only does this allow the dentist and patient to be on the same page, but it frees up lots of time clinically for the dentist to their time with creating the smile.
How does the patient benefit from a Treatment Coordinator?
Patients benefit in several ways from the services of a Treatment Coordinator. Firstly, as mentioned it allows for a far more thorough and personalized plan. Moreover, by having a person that they can contact at any time, the patient’s continuity of care and the overall journey is a lot smoother – from helping to arrange appointments, to calling after treatment to check on recovery – the patient’s experience with us is enhanced.
Can you help the patient to save money? How?
Certainly – many patients come to us with a budget, and an integral part of my role is to show patients that there are always different options for them. Of course, some of these options are wholly comprehensive and tend to involve a lot of treatment and work by the clinicians and thus more expensive. But equally, there is always also a more a conservative option that can yield many of the benefits of more expensive treatment and a significantly lower cost. By booking in a consultation with a Treatment Coordinator, we have the time to go through all of these possible routes – something that isn’t always possible in a clinical environment, where the atmosphere is focused more on the treatment itself.
Relationships are key to the dental practice success. How do you build relationships with patients?
The base of any relationship with patients is trust – specifically, the trust that every decision you make together is in their interests. Our smile is such a significant part of our lives and is one of the pillars of our confidence. Hence, I take real pride and enjoyment in being able to play a part in helping patients on their journey with us. I feel that this comes across and is perceived by some our patients, and has helped to lay the foundation for many great working relationships I’ve been lucky enough to have with patients so far.
I don’t see many Treatment Coordinators in London, why?
The role of a Treatment Coordinator is fairly new and given the NHS focus of many practices in London, there isn’t an abundance of us. Secondly, we’d like to think that we offer a very bespoke service at Shades. As such, we feel that the role and services of the TOC are something that should be enjoyed by all of our patients, hence us establishing the role at Shades Clinic.
How to make an appointment with you?
I can be contacted at any time via our treatment co-ordinator number, 07537916446, or via email firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s important that patients feel free to get in touch, no matter how small their enquiry!
If you want satisfied patients, and if you are being a true pro-patient dentist who tailors the treatment to the aspirations of the patient, you have to have a high level of communication in the dental practice. This is where the treatment coordinator comes in.
If you found this article thought-provoking and would like to leave a comment, please don’t hesitate to do that below or contact me directly.