Using the (driving) force to unite your office

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There is a force in your office that pulls you and all your team. This force can be used for good, or it can lead others to a dark side where one rogue member can change it all.

Jen Butler, MEd.Jen Butler, MEd.

This force I am referring to is the driving force.

Most offices have a very distinct line of what the back-office team contributes versus what the front-desk team does. In many practices, this division often ends up with the front-desk team having all the power and responsibility to create production and the control over collections.

But this is a trap many practices unwittingly fall into. When the back-office staff can shield themselves from these responsibilities and the front-desk has to go solo, there can be a disturbance in the force, and you might find yourself with a rebellion.

The entire team can use the force, Doctor. There is hope. Here's how:

Driving force for production

When the back-office staff members use the driving force, they create a positive urgency for patients. This guides patients to a definitive timeline of when they need to have their work completed.

“When the back office staff use the driving force they create a positive urgency for patients.”

This starts with diagnosis. Your back-office team and you are solely responsible for diagnosing every patient who walks through your doors. Without this single act, there is no production. Depending on what is diagnosed, the choice of restoration, and if a comprehensive approach is used, diagnosing can determine if the team works smarter or harder.

The next step after diagnosis is patient education. This too must come from the clinical team or patients likely will not accept treatment. I remind my clients to keep this education simple and direct. I also advise them to include the consequences of not getting treatment, as this allows patients to decide on their oral health.

Driving force for collections

Once the back-office team generates the production and timeline, it's important for the front-office staff members to stay on target. They do this by, first, reiterating the prescribed timeline and scheduling the patient within 10 business days. Anything outside of the 10-day mark and patients are more likely to cancel or not show up.

You can have the front-desk staff drive collections by having patients pay as they schedule. Training your team to become comfortable and highly versatile with this discussion is essential to building an alliance with every patient.

How stable your schedule is each day is influenced by how well the patient understands the confirmation process. The front-desk team needs to have an outlined, non-negotiable system of explaining how and when to confirm an appointment. There also needs to be a pain point for when it doesn't happen so that patients want to avoid that pain point.

Search your feelings

If your team is currently pointing fingers on who should be influencing production and collection numbers, you have two choices: Your practice can continue on its current path, or you can search your feelings and embrace the driving force.

Jen Butler, MEd, is the CEO and founder of JB Partners and has been working in the area of stress management and resiliency training for more than 25 years. Learn about her services at, or contact her at [email protected].

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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