How you take care of people in pain is not only one way you define the kind of dentist and health care professional you are – but it’s also an opportunity to gain new patients. I have been proud to work in an office where the guideline was to schedule any person in pain within 2-4 hours of their phone call. No matter whether the caller was an existing patient or brand new or even just passing through. Taking care of people in pain was so important to the dentists in this group that my front desk team quickly learned that if you took a phone call from an emergency patient and they didn’t want to come in immediately, we noted in the system that they didn’t want to come in earlier!
Since the priority for caring for people was so high, the dentists set up a system for handling dental emergencies. This system worked like a well-oiled machine. We reserved clinical staff time every day to run tests and take xrays, the dentists relied on their EFDA to handle 90% of the screening and then the dentist talked with the patient to offer treatment choices. The front desk team asked the same 5 questions of every dental emergency patient, documented those in clinical notes and scheduled the patient in this reserved time. A highly-trained treatment coordinator talked with the patient to review financial arrangements after the clinical options were presented. And, we tracked our success at converting new patient emergencies into regular recall patients.
So, how do you take care of dental emergencies in your practice?
If you’re interested in tracking your new patient emergencies, here’s an easy way to do it:
For Dentrix users: At month’s end, run a report using the Office Manager to find the new patients who started out as emergencies. To run this report, in the patient filters tab, select first visit dates for the month AND select the Procedures for the month with a completed code of D9110 (palliative treatment). Select the data fields for their name and upcoming appointment. Then, when you run this report and paste it into excel, you have a list of new patients who have had an emergency visit. Next you can check the appointment book to see if they scheduled a dental cleaning – and if so, you can count up how many people your team was successful at converting!
You also could save this list and use it as a potential call list for the future. Granted, it will be challenging to motivate dental emergency patients to come in for regular recare, but at least they’ve been in your office once and most likely they need dentistry done.
One more thought as we’re only a few weeks away from the Christmas holiday break. If you’re closing your office during the holidays (and who isn’t?) – do you have a plan for how you will take care of dental emergencies on the days you’re closed? Again, if you place a priority on caring for people in pain, make a plan now for how you will handle these phone calls to your office and what steps you want followed to help these people. What a gift you could give to a person in pain!
Managing dental emergencies is just one way to run a successful dental practice. If you’re interested in new ideas on running a dental practice, please subscribe to my weekly blog. One of the biggest challenges to managing a dental practice is managing dental insurance. With dental insurance handled, then dental marketing for new patients becomes a primary focus. In today’s day of online reviews, handling patient complaints well is essential. As your practice grows, hiring dental staff becomes more important. With 16+ years of dental practice management experience, I’m open to your questions to help you run a successful dental office.
Feel free to email me.