Does your hygiene coordinator sound like this when calling a patient to schedule?
(HC): Hello, [Patient's Name]. This is [Your Name] from [Dental Practice Name]. I'm just calling as you are due for your next check-up and cleaning. Would you like me to schedule that for you?
If yes, consider spending time with your hygiene coordinator(s) or with who is responsible for continuing care to sharpen their skills. Below, we have provided some guidelines to provide direction to your hygiene coordinator(s) if your hygienists are not pre scheduling patients from the chair and samples of phone scripts and how to handle objections. As a dental practice owner, ensuring a steady flow of patients is essential for the growth and success of your clinic. One critical aspect of achieving this is mastering the art of hygiene coordination and instilling an accurate continuing care program. This begins with your recall or hygiene coordinators; their role in contacting the patient to schedule is pivotal in generating chair time in your clinic and keeping the hygiene and doctor(s) schedule full.
Let's start with defining the basics of a hygiene coordinator role.
Patient Scheduling: The hygiene coordinator is responsible for contacting patients to schedule and confirm hygiene appointments. They must maintain the hygiene schedule, ensuring optimal use of the dental team's time while accommodating patient preferences. Insurance Coordination: Verifying patient insurance coverage and benefits is vital to the hygiene coordinator's role. They assist patients in understanding their insurance coverage and facilitate the billing and claims process.
Recall and Reminder System: Maintaining a recall system to ensure regular hygiene appointments are scheduled and reminding patients of their upcoming appointments is essential for maintaining a steady flow of patients to the practice. Some recall softwares even offer online scheduling features to take advantage of.
Data Managment: The hygiene coordinator maintains accurate and up-to-date patient records, continuing care frequency, contact points, appointments, and insurance information. Relationship Building: Building positive relationships with patients fosters trust and loyalty to the dental practice. The hygiene coordinator's interpersonal skills create a welcoming and friendly atmosphere.
A practice owner who can find a hygiene coordinator who excels in their role will find their dental practice's overall success and positive reputation improved or maintained.
Tip #1 Hygiene coordinators can feel squeamish with calling and begin adding 'fluff' to the conversation. Avoid using the words such as 'just,' 'so,' 'maybe,' or any other uncertain language. This will devalue the service you are calling to provide and adds unnecessary sentences that deviate from the point of your call. Effective training is critical; with practice your hygiene coordinator will be a confident, persuasive communicator, ultimately driving your practice toward new heights of success.
Tip #2 Avoid Open-Ended Questions like "When would you like to come in for your appointment?" more direct and specific language should be used, and you'll avoid receiving a No.
Tip #3 Avoid using technical jargon that may confuse or overwhelm the patient or overly long explanations or details that might make the patient lose interest.
Tip #4 Avoid rushing the patient or pressuring them to make an immediate decision.
Before picking up the phone, your hygiene coordinator should be checking the following:
Continung Care schedule: Is the patient, in fact, due? Cross-check with their billing history or ledger to ensure recall and scaling frequency are set up correctly. Additional family members: Are other family members, such as children or spouses, also due? So that you can schedule their appointments as well.
Coverage: In some cases, there may be a note on the patient file that they prefer you to check with their insurance provider before all appointments to confirm coverage. If this is the case, send out an electronic predetermination as, in most cases, you will receive a response immediately; however, it is ideal to have a record of the following information from their insurance provider on file for every patient to assist them in understanding their dental coverage.
Know the schedule: To avoid continuous back and forth between the patient and HC trying to find a spot, provide 1 option, which is the next availability you need to fill and the subsequent availability based on their history of previous appointments. This will also prevent uncomfortable silences on the phone as your coordinator panics and ends up scheduling unproductively or the patient says they will call back to schedule once they've checked their calendar.
Never assume! Drop any preconceived notions or presumptions about the patient. Treat all patients equally, courteously and respectfully. You'd be surprised by how many patients depend on you to call them to ensure they maintain their oral health.
Sample Script Live Phone Call:
Hygiene Coordinator (HC): Hello, [Patient's Name]. This is [Your Name] from [Dental Practice Name]. How are you today?
*Patient: [Patient's Response]
HC: I'm glad to hear that! We noticed that it's been x number of months since your last dental exam and cleaning, [Reminding patients how long it's been will create a sense of urgency]. I am calling to schedule that appointment for you. [Wait for the patient's response, it may seem uncomfortable to do so, and you may be inclined to continue speaking; however, allowing the patient time to respond is a crucial step often overseen and will usually result in a positive response; try it!]
Handling Objections: If the patient declines to schedule, ask them what month they would like you to follow up. It's okay to ask this, as the more you know, the better you can maintain notes to refer to when they appear on your continuing care list again and be flexible with the patients' current priorities. Whichever month they choose, note it so you can contact them as discussed.
*Patient: [Patient's Response]
HC: Great! Currently, we have Option #1 or Option #2 available. [These are the 2 options you researched before calling. This will allow you to control your schedule and fill any unproductive gaps. If the 2 don't work for the patient you provided, you may need to ask about their availability. Still, since you are so intuned with the schedule, you will be able to provide those options quickly!]
Barrier: What do you do when you don't have availability for a while for the patient's preferred date or time? Schedule the following availability, even if it is 6 months from now, and notify the patient that you will place them on a priority list. Should something become available, you will reach out to them. Once this is satisfactory, patients will become more flexible, allowing you to get them in sooner.]
HC: Perfect! We look forward to seeing you on [Date/time ]. Do you have any specific concerns or dental issues you want us to address during your visit? [Make sure to add notes to the appointment for the provider to address.]
*Patient: [Patient's Response]
HC: Wonderful; we look forward to your visit. Thank you, and have a great day!
Patient: [Patient's Response]
Remember, the key to a successful phone call is to establish rapport with the patient and make the scheduling process as easy as possible for patients by being professional and prepared. Happy scheduling!