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Managing Front Office Coordinators for Seamless Patient Handovers

Effective patient handovers are crucial in maintaining a smoothly functioning practice. However, a common issue Practice Managers often encounter is Front Office Coordinators (FOCs) needing to be more readily available when patients leave the treatment room.

A seeming ‘avoidance of looking after the patient’ can lead to frustration among team members, hinder the clinician’s workflow, and erode patients’ trust. This blog will explore strategies to address this issue and ensure a seamless handover process in your dental practice.

Seek to Understand

Understanding why the FOC may not be readily available for patient handovers is an essential first step. There could be various reasons, such as lack of confidence, stress from a heavy workload, or even a combination of factors. Engage in open and empathetic communication with the FOCs to discover their perspective. This approach provides an opportunity to address any underlying issues and find solutions together.

Set Expectations

One common oversight is assuming that FOCs should inherently know to prioritise patient handovers over other tasks. It’s vital to establish clear expectations and provide training to your FOCs in this area. Here are some ideas to help you set the right expectations:

  • Training and Guidelines: Develop specific guidelines and protocols for patient handovers. Ensure that FOCs are trained on when and how to receive patients leaving the treatment room. Regular training sessions help reinforce these expectations.
  • Physical Signals: Implement a visual cue system to indicate the readiness of the FOC to receive the patient. For instance, have FOCs stand up as patients approach the front desk. This simple gesture signals to the Clinician or Dental Assistant whether they should bring the patient to the desk or request them to wait briefly until the FOC is ready.
  • Daily Assignments: Assign specific FOCs to look after particular Clinicians each day. This allocation can help reduce confusion and possible standoff that can occur when multiple FOCs are at the front desk.
  • Task Lists and Notebooks: Equip FOCs with task lists that outline their responsibilities and priorities throughout the day. Encourage them to keep a notebook handy, allowing them to make notes and jot down important details they can come back to. This organised approach can help FOCs stay on track with their responsibilities.

Patient handovers are an important moment in any dental practice, and ensuring they are seamless and efficient is essential for the patient experience and overall workflow. Dealing with FOCs who appear to avoid their responsibilities in this regard can be challenging, but by seeking to understand their perspective and setting clear expectations, you can overcome this issue.

Implementing these strategies can help create a streamlined process and foster a more cohesive work environment within your practice. Addressing this issue will ultimately benefit your team and your patients, leading to a more successful and patient-focused practice.

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