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Episode : #849: Tip For Better Communication

Podcast Description

Something many dental practices tend to forget: passing off information with open communication in mind. Tiff and Dana review why handoffs are so critical to building trust and increasing patient acceptance. They touch on diagnosing with the patient in the room, having conversations directly with them, why NDTRs need to be implemented, and more.

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Transcript:

Tiffanie (00:02.055)

Hello everyone, Dana. Thank you for being here. I am so excited to be here with you today. And before we get super into what we’re talking about today, I have a question I haven’t pulled out, I feel like in far too long. So for all of my fitness enthusiasts who listened to us specifically for Dana’s tips, I apologize. I know you’re out there. But Dana, I have a question for you.

 

I am in the market for obviously always leggings and I will be buying new leggings soon.

 

Okay, restart. I will be buying leggings soon. And do you have any new legging brands that you cannot live without that the rest of the world needs to know about? Or favorites in general?

 

Dana (00:50.292)

Hmm. That’s a good one. I have to be honest. I don’t know that I have a new ones. Now I will say I definitely have my solid go tos for different activities. So depending on what you want leggings for, I think I can give so I wear different leggings for running than I do for like doing CrossFit than I do for just like everyday wear, right? Because now I can expand all of the expenses.

 

Tiffanie (01:04.775)

Okay.

 

Tiffanie (01:16.871)

Mm -hmm.

 

They do everything. I like there’s daily wear leggings and I’m like, I get that because I wear my leggings. But okay, so running, let’s see running and CrossFit today.

 

Dana (01:30.612)

Okay, so for running, I really like the Wonder Unders by Lulu. They’re more of their running. A lot of people like the Fast and Freeze. They’re actually not my favorite. I like when I’m running things to be more compressive.

 

And then there are several different athletic ones that I like for running too. So I feel like if you haven’t tried athletic leggings, I do really like their stuff for running. For CrossFit, I will forever ever go to FLEO. They’re just my favorite. They stay in place. They don’t move. They are squat proof. So for anybody into leggings, that’s an important thing.

 

Tiffanie (01:59.639)

Okay.

 

Tiffanie (02:07.015)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I feel like we need to like, get it to where you’re getting an affiliate with these things when I ask you. But it is, this is such a side tangent for everyone. But I, my for my birthday, my sister and the kids got me all these gift cards. So I got Lulu, obviously, and Athleta and then GNC, all of these things. And I’ve been saving it because I’m like, I don’t know which ones I want. But

 

Dana (02:13.364)

Right.

 

Tiffanie (02:33.415)

I really want to try the athletic stuff. I just always shy away because you just never know. You know, you just never know. So I’m going to try athletic. Thank you. And we’ll get you an affiliate discount one day. I have.

 

Dana (02:38.324)

Mm -hmm. Yeah, you should. But you’ve been hiking a lot, and I’ll say, I can send you the link, but Athleta has actually cross leggings that are partly hiking pant material, part legging material. So the front is hiking material, the back is leggings, and they’re amazing.

 

Tiffanie (02:52.231)

Perfect.

 

Tiffanie (02:56.839)

Awesome, yeah, because we are doing Grand Canyon Rim to Rim, not Rim to Rim to Rim, because I’m not Dana crazy, but Rim to Rim in the fall. So that would be fantastic. Thank you. Yeah, awesome. All right, fitness enthusiasts, now you know. Lulu, obviously, always a bet. Athleta, and then yeah, get me those hiking pants. Thank you. And if anybody would like them, let us know. Hello at thedentalatd .com. We are happy to send them over as well.

 

And that my friends is how you get things done and I think today’s conversation is super fun because I love communication. I love face -to -face communication. I love written communication. I love all of the things and I love over Communicating not to the point of you know annoyance but over communicating to the point that we know without a shadow of a doubt our patients

 

fully understand exactly what they need to come back for, what was diagnosed, our team understands what they need to come back for, how they’re going to schedule it. Dana, let’s break down some of, I’m going to think of like my top three things that clients complain about or need help with, right? Because everyone comes into the dental team and they’re like, we need systems. I’m like, my God, that can mean anything, right? So the top three things I feel like we get complaints on are communication in general. My team’s not talking to one another.

 

case acceptance is low or patients aren’t coming back and the schedule is chaos. Just pure chaos. Dana, can you think of anything else that would be top notches?

 

Dana (04:28.436)

I mean, the other thing that I hear is patient flow, but I feel like that’s incorporated in the communication and scheduling.

 

Tiffanie (04:35.175)

Yeah, yeah, I totally agree. Patient flow, that’s going for number four. And I agree. What I like to do, well, what we like to do in the building team, we do this for our own personal meetings. But then we also do this for our clients as well. We look at all of the complaints, we’re like, okay, what’s not working right now? What are all the things that are not working? And then we try to see, okay, if we could fix one thing, if we can implement one thing, how many of these items could we take off of this not working list? So if we could fix one of these pieces,

 

communication, schedule, and patient flow is helped immediately with this tool. So we’ve talked about this before, we’ve talked about it quite a few times, and we like to reiterate it because we know, Dana and I both, we consult a lot of practices, and I know, and Dana, you may or may not agree, I know a lot of my practices, I have to go over this every six months or so as a reminder because we stopped doing it, and Dana,

 

Do you see that on your side as well with your clients? You’ve got actually a ton of practices to start visiting this year. That ramped up a ton for you. But you have a lot of virtual clients, a lot more than the rest of the consultants on the team do. So do you see that also with the virtual clients that you’ve got to come back around to it every six months or so?

 

Dana (05:50.004)

Yeah, it’s I mean, teams humans, right? We’re cyclical, we can be really great about something for so long. And then we start to kind of taper down and just need that little like, nudge back to the thing that we know is really important. And oftentimes, we’re still doing a piece of something, right? But some of the details have fallen off or parts and pieces of it have fallen off. So it’s definitely something that I feel like is cyclical and a practice and we just have to revisit because it is so important.

 

Tiffanie (06:18.983)

Yeah, I agree. I agree. That’s a good point. Everything is cyclical. And that is why we, you know, go back to things, but why we like to expand on things that we’ve implemented, because I think when we layer on top of things you’ve already implemented, then it helps solidify all of those pieces. So this one is just really passing off the information. And this is super huge.

 

Passing off the information we talked about on another podcast, go back and listen to it if you haven’t listened yet about co -diagnosing and really passing that information from the hygienist or dental assistant to the doctor. One thing that I didn’t make super clear or we didn’t make super clear in that podcast was really the idea of passing that information off to the doctor in front of the patient as well. So this kind of information needs to be passed off in front of the patient in order to help build that relationship, build the trust and increase.

 

the patient’s case acceptance because your patient, we’re not doing all of this, you guys, from like the front side of our brain. We’re not like evaluating and thinking, are they communicating? Did she listen to me? Is he listening? Are they on the same page? We’re not thinking those things, but subconsciously, these are things that we are like ticketing, right? We’re like, I’m gonna save that. I’m gonna save that. We don’t even know what’s happening. So when we’re doing these things in front of the patient and we’re like, hey, this is what we saw and what patient…

 

A here has told me this is what we’ve discussed throughout the appointment so far. And doctor hears it and listens, the patient’s like, yeah, that’s cool, we did do that. now he knows and I’m a part of this conversation. I’m a part of everything. When we do it out in the hallway and I’m all for both, I used to do both when I was chair side and I was in office, I am all for both because sometimes there’s sensitive information that can’t be said in front of the patient as well, totally fine. Prep your patient or prep your doctor.

 

behind your patient, behind the wall, and then prep your doctor in front of the patient. When you don’t do the in front of the patient, it breaks that trust just a little bit and it creates, it just creates a gap in the patient communication and the patient being a part of this conversation. Doctor comes barreling in and he or she is like, my gosh, so Tiff’s told me, she’s like, okay, cool. Like she told you.

 

Tiffanie (08:30.407)

right or it looks like you’ve got this or I see doctors come in Dana all the time and they’re like tell me what’s going on and the hygienist is staring at me like I just told him what’s going on in the hallway now this exam is going to take so long so Dana do you see that and do you have I think I think people I’m gonna like side tangent for a second we’re gonna stay on the same track but also plug a little bit information here people shy away.

 

from virtual coaching or consulting often because they don’t think they’re gonna get the same value or they don’t feel maybe not even value, but they don’t feel like they’re gonna get the same time, right? So sometimes teams when I’m in person will pull me and they’re like, I have to tell you everything. But I do have, and Dana, tell me if you’re seeing this and if your hygienists do this for you, I do have virtual clients too who a lot of the team is like, hey,

 

When we do our team call, I have these things to talk about. So when you’re doing your virtual clients, is this something not being chair side or not being in practice, this passing of information, is this something that you’re able to train the teams on virtually as well?

 

Dana (09:39.612)

yeah, absolutely. And I think it’s just like asking questions and digging in and say, hey, tell me how you do it, right? What does your hand up look like to your doctor? Do you do it behind the scenes? Do you do it in front of the patient? And then I think I always, when I train this virtually, right? Like sit in the patient seat and you’re exactly right. Like we don’t automatically tick it, like tick those things through as a patient, but it’s blaringly obvious when it doesn’t happen.

 

right? So I don’t think we’re checking the box of Yep, they did this. Yes, they did this. Yes, they did this. But when it doesn’t happen, there’s a little bit of like, and it’s not on purpose, right? But there’s a little bit of ningle like, are they even talking, right? So doctors that come in and are like, Hey, tell me as the hygienist, like I’m like, well, because

 

I but I did tell you when I want the patient to know that I told you because I want the patient to feel like we’re on the same page and that this is important enough that I said it to you. And so I always say virtually right, put your piece, put yourself in the patient chair, put your patient hat on for just a second. And what does that feel like?

 

Tiffanie (10:32.583)

Yup.

 

Tiffanie (10:40.711)

Yeah, I love that. I love that. Okay. I love that. Put your patient hat on. I wrote that down. That’s going to be an action item later on. I love that. So making sure passing off the information, you guys, this doesn’t just need to come from doctor. We talked about this earlier or not earlier, but in another podcast, right? Of like, he doesn’t, she doesn’t. My exam is this because of she or he, right? Well, what, where can we control? So if we’re trying to take back control, take back time within our appointment,

 

this helps that because it helps get the conversation started. This is another time saving space for teens and for doctors. This is another way to get increase your case acceptance. Really talking to the patients about what we’re seeing over the patient is huge. So passing off information there. And then I think that leads us straight into also passing off information from diagnosis, right? So doctor diagnosing.

 

team member, right, our support team is putting everything in the computer, diagnosing over the patient to the team member, but then sitting a patient up and explaining it to them, giving our team member what we like to call NDTR. And you guys have probably heard this, if you’re clients of ours, we work on it constantly. There’s a million podcasts dedicated to NDTR. But this is huge because what we try to do is think of the things that a patient needs to have happen.

 

before they leave our practice? What are the four things that makes it super simple that no matter what, our patients are always leaving with an appointment, they’re always leaving with clarity, and the team knows how to schedule them. Remember we said we were going to save you time, we were gonna fix patient flow and fix communication, right, and fix that schedule. So this helps wrap that up. So NDTR is next visit, that’s your urgency piece. What are patients coming back for?

 

That is not your entire treatment plan. That is what is my team need to schedule next for this patient? Then we have our date. Dana, as soon as we’re done, I want to hear what you say for this space. I think we’re probably pretty aligned, but I usually say, I’d really love to see you back in my chair within the next couple of weeks if our schedules can align on that. And then time, caveat, date, doctors, do not say next Wednesday. Okay, your team will kill us.

 

Tiffanie (12:56.839)

It is not next Wednesday. It’s when my team can find time for this, right? Time is how long will this appointment take? So if we’re scheduling for a crown on number 18, how long does a crown on number 18 typically take you? Not just my doctor 20 to 40 minute prep time, but how long is that appointment that the patient’s going to be in the chair and then re -care, making sure we always have our re -care scheduled. If we have those four things, we’ve got treatment and we’ve got re -care handled and taken care of. Now, Dana.

 

Verbiage wise, how do you handle, and I think teams revolt when this happens and in person is probably, I think on our side, a little easier to calm everything down, but virtually, you do this virtually on a daily, I feel like. What’s your verbiage look like for the date piece and how do you help teams kind of be okay with it?

 

Dana (13:45.3)

Yeah, so usually what I say is the date one is that sticky one, right? Where we have to be a little bit careful what we say. And so I usually say one, add it to morning huddle. So we know when the doctor’s schedule is booked out too, right? So that then it makes handouts easy. But what we don’t want to say is, hey, I want to see you in two weeks. And then we don’t have anything, right? Because then we just kind of…

 

stepped on our own feet here. So I love how you said our schedules align. I usually prompt teams make sure you know when your doctor is available. And doctors and the reason why I say this is I want my doctors to be pretty specific because if a doctor says as soon as possible, it’s pretty subjective to you as soon as possible could be like, well, as long as I get in here before my re care my next week here, right. And for me, that could be like, no, I want to see you this week. So I think the biggest pieces that I coach on is knowing how far out doctor is booked so that it’s

 

really easy for them to say those pieces. And then two is making sure that doctor is as specific as they can be in the moment so that we don’t leave that wiggle room of patients trying to determine what is as soon as possible or how important is it be really specific.

 

Tiffanie (14:56.263)

I love that. And I think you hit on a really huge point right there. The clarity, like not, not making it so that someone else has to figure out what the clarity is because my interpretation of the word that you use could be very different if you’re not making it super clear of what your interpretation was. So ASAP, I love that one. ASAP for me is like, Hey, let’s grab lunch. Like ASAP. I mean, my schedule is all over the place. So ASAP for me is like,

 

probably a month and a half or so away. I think Dana and I have been talking for years about going hiking together and it’s never happened. We live an hour and a half apart from each other and it’s not happened. Like those are the types of things that’s like, no, if we wanna do it, if it wants and needs to get done, we’re putting a definitive timeline on it so that you know what you’re working with. If I’m working with an infinite amount of time on ASAP, I have all the time to think about and work with.

 

it’s gonna be when it’s convenient for me and I’m also probably going to change it because there’s not a deadline. But if you set that deadline, you put those parameters around it, that’s the only amount of time that I have to work with. So I’m gonna work with that amount of time, not infinite time. So I love that you said that. So you guys, NDTR, whatever it is that you guys decide to use, remember next visit, date, time, re -care.

 

Okay, make sure you’re passing that information off again in front of the patient, your team’s hearing it. I love writing it on route slips or some sort of exam card or something. We do a lot of, I do a lot of exam cards in practice that are laminated and we put NDTR on there for practices that refuse route slips. I love route slips, but if we’re not doing them, then laminated sheets are fine too. But knowing your time.

 

I think knowing how long appointments actually take you. So do some time trials if you don’t have that set. Dana, you were spot on knowing your schedule and your team knowing your schedule because a lot of times it changes, it shifts and you might be four to six weeks out and you could even say, hey, I think we might be four to six weeks out right now, but if we can, I’d love to see you sooner. Let’s get you on the books for where we can right now that works with both of our schedules and then let’s call you in sooner if we can get you in. You can start that.

 

Tiffanie (17:16.263)

And then the patient goes up front and is like, Hey, there’s some sort of list I can be on to get in sooner. And the, the team, let me tell you, your front office team is ecstatic because when they have a hole come up in the schedule, now they have a slew of patients to call from. and then I love Dana, what you said to put your patient hat on, sit in your chair and feel what it feels like to be the patient. How is that communication looking? How is it working? what can you see that could be ramped up or.

 

better what could help your relationship building with your patients, because ultimately, that’s going to help them get the treatment done. So I love that. Passing information off, co -diagnosing, telling your doctor when they walk into the room, introduce your doctor, tell them over the patient what you guys have discussed, what happened during that appointment. And then doctors diagnosing using something like NDTR to really make that happen and make that stick for the patient. Clear parameters for your team. They know exactly what to schedule.

 

They know when you wanna see the patient and they know how much time you need for that appointment. Those are huge and I promised you we’d show you ways to ramp up communication, help fix the chaos in your schedule and help your patient flow. These help all of those pieces. Communication you guys, communication and practices sucks because we’re not talking to each other, period. We’re only talking to each other when we need something. We’re like, hey, can you, hey, can you, hey, can you?

 

And then you feel drained at the end of the day and you’re like, I don’t even want to be around these people. She just always wants something from me. Ramping up the communication and being like, hey, Sally’s here. She’s ready and this is what she needs to come back for. Dana is fantastic with the schedule. She’s going to handle everything that you need right now. But if you need anything else at all, I’m just down the hall. Now, mine and Dana’s communication is ramped up because our affinity for one another has gone up because we’re being forced to communicate in a positive way constantly.

 

So ramping up your handoffs will ramp up your communication. And then you’ll see other areas where like, okay, that’s better. It’s getting better, but I can do this maybe one more thing that could increase it even more. So handoff in front of the patient, co -diagnosis, handoff in front of the patient, your NDTR, back office to front office, NDTR as well. Like I said, there’s a million podcasts on it. So go back and listen to those if you really like the idea. But if you’re looking to ramp up communication in your practice,

 

Tiffanie (19:40.807)

Help your schedule and help the flow. Knowing your timing and knowing your schedule are gonna be key. You can help your team and your team can help you. Action items, I’m gonna clarify, because it may have gotten confusing in there. Time trials if you don’t know your timing. Put your patient hat on, sit in the chair and figure out how you can ramp things up, and then know your schedule. I love that Dana said, add it to your morning huddle.

 

so that you guys know how far you’re booked out. When is your next opening? What does that need to look like? Dana, thank you so much for letting me pick your brain. I love having you on Maze and I really appreciate you diving into your virtual consulting and coaching for us and how that’s been beneficial for your clients. So thank you so much. Is there anything you can think of at all that we’ve missed on the action items or anything you wanna add in there?

 

Dana (20:33.684)

No, I think we hit it off.

 

Tiffanie (20:36.615)

Awesome. Awesome. You guys go make this magic. Go do the things. Leave us a five star review below if you love this podcast and let everyone know the nuggets that they can take away from it and go listen to the other ones. Like I said, there’s a lot of NDTR ones in here. So go listen to the other ones to get more nuggets and we’ll see you next time. Thanks.

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