Tips for managing multiple exam rooms, and patient communication

Tips for managing multiple exam rooms, and patient communication

What follows are tips for managing multiple rooms of dental patients and helping to keep the flow with your hygienist and assistants in various rooms using their help to organize notes and communicate with patients.

First tip: use index cards

If you have multiple rooms, it’s good for each staff member, whether assistant or hygienist in other rooms to have a simple index card with their name and room number. This way, when ready, they can bring the card into the room the dentist is in and leave it on the counter.

What this does is it lets the dentist know they are needed. Also, if there’s more than one staff member waiting, the second staff member can put the card underneath the first card. Which does a lot of things automatically.

One, it helps me know the order of who is waiting and who was waiting first.

This is better than buzzer systems where the patient may not know what’s going on, or it may be more noise or distraction.

Second Tip: check in on all hygienists and their patients

When you check in on one hygienist, check in on all of them while you’re up.

If you leave a room with a dental patient and you’re going back to that same dental room, go ahead and check every hygienist with patients who have yet to be checked at that time.

Most of the hygienists and the patients are going to be happy to have you check things so they’re not waiting later. Which means the patient will now be ready to go when the hygienist is done.

Worst thing would be to just check one hygienist and then go sit down and have to get up again quickly. So, it is best to check them all at the same time. When you go in there and the hygienist is seeing the patient ask the patient, are there any concerns that they are having?

Then ask the hygienist, did they see any periodontal concerns? Did they see any restorative concerns? Just to make sure you’re aware of things the hygienist has seen and addressed with the patient already.

It’s also a good idea to let the hygienist propose some treatment options they see before you enter the room.

Communicating treatment options

If the hygienist sees the tooth needs a crown, get them to start that conversation. That way the patient has a chance to get some of their questions answered by the hygienist before you come in the room.

Often more than one treatment option is available, so while you should present the ideal treatment for the patient first, you also should also present alternatives.

Whatever the patient ultimately decides, you have to accept that that’s what they feel is right for them.

For example, if a patient has a large filling and the cusp of the tooth is broken, and it’s more than 50% filling in the tooth, a crown is the best option. However, the patient may request to patch it with a filling.

If that’s what they want to do you should try to respect that and do the filling. But at least if you’ve presented the crown as the best option, do the filling and it breaks, then it looks like you’ve predicted the future.

The patient can accept some responsibility for the filling not lasting as long, and then they’ll be more apt to do the crown when they come back.

If I don’t present the crown and then I do the filling and the tooth breaks, then it looks like bad dentistry. They didn’t know that there was another option. So you must present all the options and then let the patient decide.

Third tip: assistant to help add notes to a chart

To make your life easier, have an assistant add as many notes as possible into the chart prior to you coming in the room. This way you can just read over the notes and edit and be aware what was discussed..

You’ll be able to edit the notes as needed to make sure you agree with everything and then save the notes in the computer practice management software. Doing this means you won’t need to remember everything at the end of the day. Especially when there are lots of patients. The best time is right there when you’re with the patient before starting the next patient.

Another thing it’s helpful for your staff to do is go ahead and write in the chart notes what dental procedure the patient needs to come back for, if any. And then also, you should write the date of the next hygiene visit just to be sure the next hygiene visit has been scheduled.

Because most patients need to come back for a cleaning or some kind of checkup. And if they’ve written the date of that cleaning down, then you’ll know they’ve already discussed that and planned for it and scheduled it.

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