Treatment Coordination - R.I.P
Updated: May 18, 2018
Treatment Coordination has been an intrinsic, well thought of and indeed important part of the whole Dental industry for a considerable period now.
Treatment Coordination has been an intrinsic, well thought of and indeed important part of the whole Dental industry for a considerable period now. The role really was groundbreaking for an industry that took 86458765235 years to realise that's it's not just about being great a great clinician to keep patients happy, it's about customer service too - the TC role seemed to bridge that gap nicely.
The question I want to float is - Is it time for the TC to R.I.P?
Queue communal gasps of horror, along with flaming torches at dawn!Who is this clown?! Suggesting such a thing - sacrilege indeed! Well sign off now if you feel that strongly, but if you are of a jolly curious nature, read on dear friend, these are but words...
I may eat my words in the future (wouldn't be the first time...), but my personal view is that the 'Treatment Coordination' role within Practices is not really fit for purpose any longer & has had it's day - it's time for a fresh approach.
I think the fact the role is primarily aimed at clinical team members (Nurses), is a little narrow minded - yes, they have to discuss treatment options with patients (apparently), however I don't think it should be about that - it's ALL about the soft stuff for me - the service and making people feel like they are welcome and the centre of your attention. In fact I don't think TC's should be reviewing any type of treatment plan with patients at all, however should be able to offer an overview of treatments offered by the Practice, guide prices, benefits and examples of success etc (to name but a few).
At Hartley Dental we employed a full time TC and it didn't bring us the value we wanted for one reason and another, so we got rid of the role and re-focused on front of house as a 'department.' The results of this re-focus have been quite staggering in their success and this got me thinking... who needs a TC anyway?! We have 'Care Champions' instead. (Curious - just email me and ask for proof email@example.com.)
Now I'm not suggesting that the TC ethos has been a waste of time or has not worked/isn't working for some Practice's or anything like that, just simply that it is time for something new, something fresh, something.... marvellous! We are all adults and can choose to whom/what we ally ourselves you see - tis but a choice. The Care Champion role can be taken up by anyone within the Practice - front of house team, Nurse, Manager (Business or Practice). It is focused on the the art of customer service, the art of positive persuasion and the art of making people buy (or selling to people, however you like to dress it). It is non clinical.
Example - I bought a new TV the other day, didn't really know what I wanted but was open to suggestion from the jolly fine team at John Lewis in Exeter. When I arrived in the TV section, I was greeted by a very smart, positive, smiling and eye contacting chap, who simply said, "Good morning sir - Are you OK browsing or...?" (Great open question). I replied that I was looking for a new TV, but wasn't sure what. There were then questions, 'Wall fitted or standing?' 'How big is the space you have for the TV?' 'Is the TV just for you or for a household?' 'Will you be using it primarily for terrestrial TV or for watching movies?' etc. Now in short, I ended up buying a jolly nice new TV for quite a few quids - but did the guy selling it to me (which is exactly what he did!) even elude to the fact that it was made in Taiwan, has a fibre optic motherboard with 20,000 active fibre connections and will sing me a song when I wake up? No he did not - no intrinsic (and indeed to me, pointless) details what-so-ever - in fact I'm not sure he actually said much, just asked me questions and guided me in the right direction - that kid will go far!
Can you see how this relates to newer patients in dentistry? People know that they should see a Dentist and they certainly know when their teeth hurt - but do they know what you actually do? ('Fix teeth?') Or what the letters after your name mean? Or what gingivitis, periodontitis or pockets of 3 billion millimetres mean - do they heck. They are not interested in the details to start with, they are interested in how they are greeted, how much time you take to make them feel welcome, the cup of coffee, the free WiFi, the magazines, newspapers and the Care Champion spending half an hour with them, asking questions and getting vital details (medical history, clinical photo consent etc), showing a real interest in the lives and showing that Dentistry isn't still stuck in the 80's (hopefully). The Care Champion however, does not talk about periodon... blahhhh blah and the like - simply that you are a totally prevention led Practice who put health first, closely followed by making your smile look totally majestic! You get the idea anyway.... Oh and PS, that's where you come in Dr. Dentist, but that's a process and implementation plan for another day! Remember (as the great Theodore Roosevelt once said), "People do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care."
Lastly, the processes underpinning the patient journey from enquiry to conversion are absolutely critical too, as is measuring whether it actually works (KPI's) but I sense your attention waning so I shall look to sign off shortly and save all that for when you all email me to find out more about this magnificent innovation (once again feel free - firstname.lastname@example.org)...
Well TC's, it's been quite a journey, I'm even a little emotional, but all good things must come to an end and the winds of change are blowing.... so watch this space!
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