Clear Communication is Key

Make it a priority communicate clearly—with your patients and with your team members.

Communication is a topic I write a lot about in my articles because it’s such an important factor in a dental practice, both with patients and with team members. Here are some reasons why communication is so important and how it pertains to both patients and your team.

Set Realistic Expectations

For Patients

It’s important to set realistic expectations for your patients regarding treatment plans and treatment outcomes. For example, you may not want a patient to expect a denture to be a perfect treatment option. They should be aware that they may have to use adhesive and have difficulty eating certain foods. Setting this expectation before the treatment is done could avoid potential patient complaints after the treatment is done.

For Your Team

Let your team know what you expect from them. For example, if you expect your hygienist to produce a minimum of $1000 per day, let her know that from the beginning of her employment. That will encourage her to keep her schedule full and generate additional production on patients where possible.

Have a Clear Written Office Policy

For Patients

It’s important to let patients know from their first visit with your office what your policies are regarding payment and missed appointments. If you let them know that you expect payment to be made at the time of service and the form(s) of payment you accept, there won’t be ambiguity later on. If you have a missed appointment fee, or a twenty-four-hour cancellation notice policy, make patients aware of that as well.

For Your Team

If you have policies for your team, have them sign a written form so they are clear and understand the policy. For example, if you provide uniforms for your team and require that they be returned if the team member leaves your office, have them sign a form to that effect. A policy that I always have team members read and sign is that they will not discuss their pay rate with other employees because it always causes problems and animosity amongst the team.

Use Consistent Verbiage

For Patients

When speaking to your patients, make sure your entire team uses the same verbiage to avoid confusing patients. For example, if it’s your doctor’s recommendation that a crown should be placed on an endodontically treated tooth two weeks after the root canal is completed, make sure the entire team is aware of that so the patient consistently hears the same answer from all team members.

For Your Team

Having clear written policies and an employee handbook will ensure that your management team uses the same verbiage when dealing with any human resource situations within your team.

Communication is very important in your dental practice. It helps to eliminate potential patient complaints and team member problems. You can use communication techniques to avoid possible conflicts in your practice before they even happen.


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By Charlotte Skaggs
Certified Dentrix Trainer and The Dentrix Office Manager columnist

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for over 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.