How 2-way radios can improve clinic efficiency

By Dave McClintic, DrBicuspid.com contributing writer

November 5, 2020 -- Dentistry surprises us with exciting and new technologies every day. Everything from new x-rays to 3D printers are helping dentists conduct new procedures that improve the lives of their patients. However, one tool for improving a clinic's communication and efficiency is not new technology. I am talking about two-way radios.

When I bought my two-way radio business in 2014, I did not think of dental clinics as an established market. However, year after year, more dentists and front office managers are asking me about walkie-talkies and radio headsets.

The fact is that two-way radios are an effective and simple way to increase the efficiency of your clinic. Here are a few reasons why two-way radios will benefit your team's communication.

Improved doctor-to-front office communication

The ability to get patients quickly checked in and seeing the doctor is key to running a successful practice. Two-way radios can help the front office quickly communicate with the hygienists to let them know which patients are coming in and out of the clinic.

Radio communication prevents the little trips across the clinic from occurring. If the doctor or a team member has a front office question, he or she is able to instantly communicate via the two-way radio.

Dave McClintic
Dave McClintic.

Reann Decker works in the front office of Mitchell Dental in Scottsdale, AZ. She has worked in practices that used radio communication and practices that did not. She said the offices that used two-way radios operated more effectively.

"They help us a lot with time efficiency. Getting ahold of someone in the back office is a lot easier and they can let me know of any treatment changes without needing to come to the front," Decker said. "When I worked at practices without radios, we were constantly wasting time walking back and forth to find the person we were looking for."

Decker said these "small meetings" kept them from actively helping patients. One or two of these meetings may not take much time out of your day, but for a large practice, they can add up.

Monica Romero, front office supervisor of Litchfield Dental Care in Arizona, said that her office has greatly benefited from using two-way radios and sees them as even more useful during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Even if someone is sitting close or needs help, we don't have to get very near anyone and can still maintain our social distance among the staff," Romero said.

Romero's office staff consists of about 13 people, and they can have up to 20 patients in the office at any time. Pandemic or not, she and her staff have been using two-way radios for quite some time.

"We find our practice runs smoother with constant communication; regarding the schedule, an emergency in the back, it really helps us out," she said. "Even at one of our smaller offices, with only six staff members, we still find it very beneficial there."

Some doctors believe that having two-way radios means they will have to spend the day listening to radio chatter that does not pertain to them. However, this concern can be put to rest by asking your radio provider to put the doctor on his or her own private channel. A private channel means the lead dentist will only hear conversations when he or she is needed.

Increased patient time

For many patients, sitting in a dental chair is not the most enjoyable experience. They want to get in, get their work done, and get out. A hygienist or dentist leaving the patient to get a question answered is not going to get that patient out of the chair faster.

The ability to stay with the patient while still communicating with your team can bring a level of comfort to an otherwise nerve-racking appointment.

"No one likes to be left alone at the dentist office," Decker said. "Two-way radios help us get our questions answered without having to leave anyone alone in the dental chair."

The need to stay with a patient is even more crucial if the doctor is dealing with an emergency situation. With radio communication, emergency help is one button push away.

Quick tips

If you believe two-way radios are a good option for your dental practice, there are a couple things to keep in mind.

Make sure you look for two-way radios that are easy to turn on and off. I recommend any radio with a large push-to-talk button. These are the easiest for multitasking medical or dental professionals to use.

It is also important to find a vendor who is readily available to help you with everything from the setup of your radios to any technical questions you may have. A strong network of support after the sale is something any good vendor will give you.

Dave McClintic is the owner of HQ98. He has sold two-way radios and consulted with dental clinics across the U.S. on how to effectively use them.

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


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