6 Keys to an Effective Patient Hand Off in Your Dental Office

September 25, 2023

6 Keys To An Effective Patient Hand Off In Your Dental OfficeHave you ever walked into a building in the dark? You knew where you had to go and what you had to get…but for some reason the lights wouldn’t work. Do you remember feeling frustrated? Do you remember looking around trying to solve the issue and not knowing how? Do you remember feeling the walls and feeling anxious?

Did you know that this is exactly how your patients feel when you don’t have a proper hand off? Maybe the patient had to walk themselves up to the front desk. Possibly the assistant said, “Wait here and someone will be with you.” Sometimes the front desk is asking the patient who is waiting, “How may I help you?” And the patient responds with, “I don’t know the assistant told me to wait here.”

This is more than embarrassing when you THINK your patients are being taken care of. It’s so frustrating when the left hand doesn’t talk to the right! Your patients should not have to figure things out on their own. They should not have to feel anxious, and that the dental office is disorganized.

The trust transfer or patient hand off is a very important system to master! Otherwise, patients will say, “Just call me!” when the front desk was supposed to schedule or collect money due.

Tips to include in your trust transfer or patient hand off:

  1.  Use the patients name a few times during your conversations. Definitely greet them by name and say, “It was so great to see you, (name) Have a great day!”
  2. Explain to the patient the process so they are not frustrated, nervous, or wondering what is going on. Notice their body language and make sure they are comfortable with what is going on. Make sure your body language is comforting. Never talk to patients while you have your back turned or typing on a computer. Give them the full attention they deserve. Use eye contact and a friendly tone of voice.
  3.  Never make the patient repeat themselves. The team must take good notes and transfer all the information. Otherwise, the employee may ask the patient a question that they do not know the answer to. Communicate all details needed.
  4. Let the front desk administrative team know what is next, why, and how long they need to schedule.
  5. Use great verbal skills. Did you know there are words we shouldn’t say that team members say all the time. Check out my dental store for the list of “Words to replace in a dental office”.
  6.  Don’t ask yes or no questions. If you ask, “Is your address still the same?” They usually say, “Yes”. If you ask, “Do you want to pay/schedule?” They usually say, “No”. It is important to guide and tell them what to do and understand how to get the results you need.

Verbal skills is the #1 thing that most dentists and their team need to be taught. My goal is to minimize the patients’ objections, so you don’t have to try to overcome them. It sure can turn into arguing and an uncomfortable conversation for all. Let’s give you, your team, and your patients the most positive experience possible.

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