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Episode : #852: How to Handle Emergency After-Hour Calls

Podcast Description

Kiera gives listeners three steps to set up an ideal emergency after-hour protocol response.

  1. Define “true emergency” — what should the doctor actually have to come in for?

  2. Role play! Listen to example calls and set language to use.

  3. Place daily blocks for those emergency appointments.

She adds a couple additional pieces of advice, including using a rotating emergency response schedule with other practices.

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Transcript:

Kiera Dent (00:00.782)

Hello, Dental A Team listeners. This is Kiera and welcome to the Dental A Team Podcast. I hope that you guys are having the best day of your life and I hope that you guys are just enjoying your time. I hope that you remember that right now you get to be a part of dentistry. It’s a great time. It’s an amazing profession and you get to change people’s lives and I hope you just remember that you are changing lives and it is a great place to be. Also, if this dental podcast has blessed your life in any way, please do me a favor and leave a review. Share this in a Facebook group.

 

tag us while you’re driving because my goal is to get this podcast into the hands of every single dental office out there and I can only do that with your help. So please, I will provide the free content. I will be here every single week with you guys. I just ask that you do me a favor and share this at least once a week with somebody or some group that you think it could benefit. That means the world to me and it’s how we’re going to be able to reach that mission. So today I just want to jump in a quick tactical podcast with you guys today on how can we actually handle emergency after call after our calls.

 

to keep our patients happy and cared for, but also to allow doctors to have a stress -free life. And this is for solo doctors, because obviously if we’ve got associate or other doctors, we can rotate the time. So I’m just gonna dive into it. We saw this as a question that came up. I always love when people ask me for podcast topics. If you ever wanna leave me a podcast topic that you want for your practice or for you, head on over to thedentalateam.com

 

click on the podcast link and right there, there’s a place for you to actually submit ideas. You can also just email us, hello at thedentalateam.com. I would love to hear from you. I love a good pen pal, but really any topics you guys want, this podcast is built for you. So the more I get your ideas, your questions, the things you want, the more I’ll be able to build podcasts for you and for your team. And also we can create quick rules for you, make it very simple for you. You can also post questions in our Facebook group. So head on over to our Facebook group, join our group, enter the discussion. I’d love to have you there.

 

All right, emergency after calls. So let’s say you have multiple doctors. I think that everybody doesn’t want to have to always be on call. And so like our success team, they rotate every other weekend and they know who’s going to be on call, what the expectations are. And they also know the weekends that they’re going to be off. And so that way they can really get that balance. And so I think that’s a great way. If you do have other providers in the practice that they can actually rotate that. And the second thing is I’ve seen some offices actually have,

 

Kiera Dent (02:20.046)

their team members more on call. So the doctor doesn’t necessarily have to be on call. And this is in solo practices, larger practices, but you can actually rotate the team. There’s ways you can do it. Check with your state laws to where it’s on call pay and not regular pay. And so if there is a call, they take a company cell phone and they just take, they vet those calls. So that way the doctor doesn’t need to always feel like they’re on call and handling those emergency calls. Also is to make sure that it truly, truly is an emergency when they’re calling you after hours.

 

A lot of times we can train our team members to find out is this truly an issue or is it something that could be solved on Monday? A lot of times, offices will save a spot on Monday for those emergencies that do come in over the weekend of like, perfect, let’s take some ibuprofen or we can call in some medications if needed. Doctors, that’s your world. But really educating our team of like, what is a true emergency? So something for me that was kind of like an art practice of what we saw as the standard of a true emergency where doctors going to go in.

 

was usually, it was a broken tooth. Like if someone got in an accident, their tooth was broken. Obviously that’s gonna be a weekend emergency that we’re going to go in for. Another thing like a lot of times abscesses, the abscesses ignore an extreme pain. But remember, it didn’t happen overnight usually for an abscess. It’s been there, we probably diagnosed it on that patient. And if you want to, you can have that. Some practices prefer to call in a medication. Some practices don’t because they don’t want the patient to get out of pain and then never show up.

 

So you guys can make that determination for your practice of what’s going to be best for you and how you want to do that. But I think like really those are our true two emergencies. Everything else like a popped off temporary, there’s temp cement that they can put on at the grocery store. Other things like we want to take care of our patients, but we have to remember like what truly is an emergency. And I think about it like a doctor at a hospital is not going to come in if I have like…

 

you know, my cast got wiggly, they’re going to say perfect, like, you can just manage it. We’ll see you on Monday. It’s not something urgent. They’re going to come in if I like cut my finger off in the blender, they’re going to come in if I like poked my eye or I broke my bone, things that have immediate consequences. And I think in dentistry, we think it’s an emergency because the patient is frazzled. And so I think actually, a lot of times those emergencies to help these doctors have stress free lives is let’s actually role play these. So there are some

 

Kiera Dent (04:44.91)

some companies. So like if you have your phones, you can actually have them record the calls and we can listen to these emergency calls and let’s see if it truly is an emergency on the weekend. I think a lot of people just want it to be taken care of and if the dentist is willing to come in, fantastic, but like true emergencies, a broken tooth and usually an abscess were pretty much the only two that our doctor would actually go in on the weekend. Also, if the doctors have it set up of if there is an emergency, this is the time I’m willing to come in. You guys, I did break

 

my ex -fiance, notice X, and he did smash my face into a wall on a Saturday. And I had to go to the dentist. And I will tell you that dentist was out and about and I did not see that dentist for about five hours. So just so you know, I do feel like my case was extenuating circumstances and I did need to see a dentist that day and I’m grateful he was able to come in. But just so you know, if it’s a true emergency, they’re going to be willing to wait until it’s convenient for the doctor as well.

 

So doctor who’s like, I know you want to care for these patients, but remember they are paying a premium and you do get to have it on your own time. Some other offices will rotate with offices too. I know that that’s an option for solo doctors. If you don’t have an associate, you and maybe a couple other practices in the area that are our solo doctors, maybe you rotate. So one practice takes it the first week of the month. The next one takes it the second, third and fourth. Obviously that’s on our honor that we don’t try and take each other’s patients. But it can be set up to where.

 

Fantastic this week, we become the emergency call line for all four practices and they can come in the next time it’s going to be for the other one. They’ll be on call for it. And that can sometimes help you to where you’re only then having to be available one weekend out of the month that we can go on vacations. You can be free, but I want you to also remember and let’s pretend doctors that you are on vacation. You are completely out of the country and a patient called in with an emergency. What would you do? Odds are the only two you’d go in for is probably a broken tooth or that root canal.

 

But odds are you’d probably call in a medication. You’d see them on Monday when you got back. And so remembering that if, if we’re on vacation and we wouldn’t be coming in, we like, we’d probably call another doctor and send them to that. If the emergency is not to that level, when you’re on vacation, is there a way within our practice that we can change it into where those emergencies aren’t coming in? They’re not overwhelming our schedule. It’s not as having to give up our weekends. So I really do think, um, our team practicing, reviewing the calls, let’s see what we could have said.

 

Kiera Dent (07:11.246)

How can we get it to where this patient feels so happy? Maybe having a block space on Mondays for emergencies in the morning to where like amazing, no problem. We’re going to have you take some ibuprofen. We’ll get you in right away on Monday morning. No problem. We actually reserve spaces for that. I think some really good word ninjaing verbiage for your team can cut down those ER after hour calls. And honestly, if it’s an evening one, they’re fine. They’ll come in the next morning and there’ll be a spot for them.

 

I used to hold two emergency appointments every single day, morning and afternoon, and it was true emergencies. And I want to remind you if it’s a true emergency, they’ll come at any time I have available. So I put it in my schedule right where we actually wanted it every single day because true emergencies will come. Everybody else can fit into our schedule where it’s ideal. And so I really, really think most of these, we care so much about our patients being happy and cared for, but I think we oftentimes maybe overdo it when it’s unnecessary. And so biggest takeaways from this is one,

 

Let’s define what emergencies you’re willing to come in for. Doctors, this is your life. It’s you giving up your time to go in. Worst case scenario, there are emergency dental cares that they can go to on the weekends. And I know we don’t necessarily want to do that, but I want to remind you there are other options. And 99 % of the time, unless they’re in some fluke accident like I was in, the problem has been there. They just elected not to get it done. And so I also think like there was a chance for them to get this done when it wasn’t in pain. And not to say we punished them for it.

 

But I want you to remember you didn’t cause this problem and they had choices prior that they chose not to do most of the time. So number one, identify what are true emergencies you are willing to come in for and train your team and let them know these are the ones. Number two, let’s role play and let’s listen to calls of what the emergencies are and how we would respond to that patient to help them see that they can come in on Monday. Number three, place that block every single day so we do have those true emergency spots where we’re holding them for true emergencies and that patient can come in.

 

And when I talk about a broken tooth, let me just clarify, that’s like they were in an accident. It wasn’t like decay and it fell off. Okay, so two very different scenarios, fluke accident, face, longboarding accident, car accident, things like that where really, I mean, you guys, I had no decay in my teeth. I just happened to get a nice concrete wall to the face. Those are things that I would say true emergencies and that patient will be so grateful and appreciative because that really is something you do need to take care of that day. And then,

 

Kiera Dent (09:39.406)

After that, let’s just remember if you were on vacation, what would you do and who would you actually go see? And then possibly look to see, can you rotate the days, the weeks, the months with other offices? So that way you feel like you can be off call. You don’t always have to be on call because it is true. They come in on the weekends. And so, but we also do need to have balanced lives as well. And so that would be my recommendation. We’re really great at training on verbiage for teams, helping you doctors also realize.

 

what’s truly a true emergency versus what’s one that really could be handled on Monday and giving you that, that confidence to still care for them and take great care of them and do it on a day that you’re already in the practice, really, really, really can give you the confidence. So if we can help train your team, reach out, [email protected]. We’re here for you. And as always, thanks for listening. I’ll catch you next time on the dental a Team podcast.

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