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Episode : #662: The Perfect Handoff

Podcast Description

It’s a consultant takeover! Tiff and Britt discuss the pluses of using route slips in your practice. Using a protocol for route slips will ramp up your office communications and help secure the trust of your patients. Consider the two following questions when using route slips:

  1. Is there a system in process?

  2. Do your team members know that protocol?

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0:00:05.6 Kiera Dent: Hey everyone, welcome to the Dental A Team Podcast. I’m your host, Kiera Dent, and I have this crazy idea that maybe I could combine a doctor and a team member’s perspective. Because let’s face it, dentistry can be a challenging profession with those two perspectives. I’ve been a dental assistant, treatment coordinator, scheduler, filler, office manager, regional manager, practice owner, and I have a team of traveling consultants, where we have traveled to over 165 different offices coaching teams. Yep, we don’t just understand you, we are you. Our mission is to positively impact the world of dental, and I believe that this podcast is the greatest way I could help elevate teams grow VIP experiences, reduce stress and create A teams. Welcome to The Dental A Team Podcast.


0:00:51.2 KD: Hello Dental A Team listeners. This is Kiera. And you guys, you are in for the best treat of your life, Consultant Takeover. That’s right. Get ready. They’re dropping some dynamite. Our consulting team is incredible, guys, and we are so blessed and so fortunate to have them sharing tips and tricks with you today. And as always, thanks for listening. I’ll catch you next time on The Dental A Team Podcast.

0:01:13.4 Tiffanie: Hello Dental A Team’s listeners. This is Tiffanie, and you are here on the Dental A Team Consultant Takeover, where the traveling Dental A Team consultants take over the mic and share tips and tricks from hundreds of offices nationwide. And today, I am here with Ms. Britt. Maybe that’s your new nickname, just Ms. Britt. It sounds great, flashy.

0:01:32.3 Britt: Ms. Britt. It’s like the old little cartoon things, right? Like Ms. Purple?

0:01:36.5 Tiffanie: Yes. [chuckle] I love it, I love it. So we are taking over. You usually see Kiera on these suckers. You guys know we come on, we often come on with Kiera, but every once in a while, I like to push Kiera to the side and be like, “Let us have the spotlight.” So here we are, spotlight’s on us. We’re super excited to come to you today. I’ve been picking Britt’s brain, and I just thought how fun would it be to really take a perspective on route slips, the love-hate relationship that we all have with route slips and talk about why we as Dental A Team consultants still love route slips. Because, I don’t know about you, Britt, but I think what I’ve seen mostly over the last few years is number one, Save the Trees. We were on a Save the Tree kick for a long time, and I think that’s coming back around, so Save the Trees. But then number two, can’t we do everything electronically, and why does it have to be on paper? So I really wanted to hit on that, why do we still love paper route slips or laminated route slips, however we go. We can talk about the differences between all of that and different options, but I thought… I keep getting hit with that.

0:02:43.7 Britt: I know. I’m a lover.

0:02:43.8 Tiffanie: Do you see that?

0:02:45.2 Britt: I do. I see it for sure, and I say… [chuckle] Especially being… Like even in office during COVID, we had this debate, ’cause we used route slips while I was still in office, and it’s like, “Well, what are we gonna do? How do we wanna do it?” But it’s one of the first things we brought back as soon as we could, because they’re so useful. So I love ’em. Biggest reason why I love ’em is because it’s communication that follows the patient that is easily accessible, that you don’t have to search for. Number one reason why I love ’em.

0:03:20.1 Tiffanie: Yeah, totally. Totally. And I think you hit on a great point right there for the COVID purposes, because I know I still have a lot of practices that are taking COVID… I think everybody’s taking COVID precautions. I think it’s just part of our norm now, but I still have a lot of practices that are still masked up and they’re asking their patients to wear masks, and it’s kind of funny because it’s kind of like coastal. [chuckle] It’s my coastal practices. Like in the middle, all of us are like, “Well, you know, it’s fine.”

0:03:42.0 Britt: “No, it’s fine.” [chuckle]

0:03:43.0 Tiffanie: “Fly by the wind. We’re fine.” But my coastal practices are still very much so hitting on all of those, so I know… I think that’s a good point because a lot of practices dropped them during COVID because their paper and transferring whatever…

0:03:58.3 Britt: Goes around the practice.

0:04:00.5 Tiffanie: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And they’re just… They’re following the patient. They’re going all over. Doctor’s spraying water everywhere or whatever. So one thing I had them do, which you guys can still put this into play, is to put them in those protector sheets, the laminated protector sheets that you use for your eighth grade history report and just stick them in there because you can wipe those down. You can write on them, and you could NDTR, which if you’re Dental A Team listener, you know what NDTR is. If you don’t, go search our podcast for NDTR and figure out what that is. But you can do all of those things on that page protector. And they’re super inexpensive. They’re like 15 cents a piece or something at this point. So if you mess one up or you have to get rid of it, just throw it away, but that’s one really easy way to keep those route slips in place, but be, I don’t know, OSHA-friendly, we’ll say, like to be clean with it.

0:04:48.0 Britt: Yeah, or we did the little clear covers on the wall so you could just slide it in there in the room. Like there’s lots of things you could do to still use them and keep things clean, but that’s how worth it it was to me, that in the practice, I’m like, “No, we’ve gotta bring them back because if not, my front desk has no idea what’s going on, what happened to the appointment, what are we doing next? What do I need to schedule them for?” So, yeah.

0:05:11.9 Tiffanie: Totally. Yeah, I totally agree. I totally agree. So I think that’s a way to get around it. I do have some practices too, like the Save the Trees thing, where we will do like a mock, like a template route slip and then we laminate it, so then you’re dry erase markering the whole thing, which is the patient name, what’s today’s procedures, you’re marking all of the pieces off, you’re doing NDTR at the bottom, which is totally fine too, and I’m all for that ’cause I am all for the Save the Trees. Like we’ve got a lot of people trying to live on this planet. Let’s make it last as long as we can. So I’m all for all of those pieces, and I think that’s a great option. But I think the point is that we’re keeping the route slips in play because we love them. And for me, and I train all my practices when I go into office, and I’m like, “No, we are doing route slips, we are doing this,” [chuckle] or when I’m doing it over phone calls or video calls, whatever, I train all my practices that, “This is your baton.” And I think of a relay race, and I remember being in eighth grade learning how to relay-race when I hated running. I run now. I forced myself to enjoy running.

[overlapping conversation]

0:06:11.0 Britt: Just saying, do you really love it now? [chuckle]

0:06:13.9 Tiffanie: Listen, I don’t love it. I don’t love it. That’s a complete honest to God truth, is that I do not love it. I love the feeling afterwards. That anaerobic high, I am addicted to the anaerobic high. It’s the same thing I get when I drop off my Peloton. Like everybody’s like, “How do you even do this? How do you run?” I’m like, “It’s the feeling afterwards where I’m dying.” But then I get that surge of energy and then I feel like, honestly… This is such a tangent. But I feel like I breathe differently all day. Like my lungs are cleaner, they’re clear, I can feel my body operating different than prior to my run. So do I love the act of running? No, absolutely not. And you put me on a treadmill, I’m not even gonna get a mile because I’m so bored. But if I go outside, I’ll run. I can do a couple miles, I can do three, four miles if I really want to, 2 1/2 is really my happy space. But do I love it? No.

0:07:08.9 Britt: But if you put Tiff in a relay race, she’ll do a relay race.

0:07:14.0 Tiffanie: People are depending on me then. I’m like, “I’m gonna win.” Thank you for bringing us back. [chuckle] So that’s what I think of, is eighth grade trying to learn how to do the stupid relay race and remembering dropping that dang baton and it was this like weird shiny cardboard material and you dropped the baton…

0:07:31.6 Britt: Hollow tube.

0:07:33.1 Tiffanie: Yeah, the tubes. [laughter] Remember, they were so weird and they made that weird noise when you slammed them. Such a weird childhood memory. But I remember dropping it, that ping boom ping like down and we were done. So I train my offices, like you don’t always just get to pick it up and go back. I had some PE teachers that were like, “No honey, just pick it up and you restart.” I’m like, “That’s not how this works. You dropped that baton and you’re DQ’d. You don’t just get to go back and try again.”

0:07:58.9 Britt: You lose. There’s competitive Tiff. No, you lose. [chuckle] You’ve gotta play by the rules.

0:08:03.5 Tiffanie: No, you lost. You dropped the baton, you lost. And so to me that’s what these route slips are, and that’s what they were for me when I was in office. And I don’t know if you guys know or not, but Britt’s done a lot of positions in the practice. I know she knows how to dental-assist. It’s not her favourite space to be in, but she’s a hygienist.

0:08:20.3 Britt: I don’t claim it. I don’t disrespect assistants by saying that I am. I have much more respect for them than that ’cause I’m not a great one. [chuckle]

0:08:27.5 Tiffanie: That was a great way to say it. I love that. [chuckle] And I appreciate that. But you’ve done a lot of positions. You’ve done front office and back office. Myself, I’ve done dental assisting. I’m not a hygienist, but I’ve definitely done a ton of dental assisting. It’s my favourite space to be in. Ton of front office, office manager, all the front office pieces, both of us have all had. But as a dental assistant, I thought it would be fun to speak on that piece because I think we don’t really… We see it from the front office and we talk about that a lot, and it’s very easy for us to be like, “Well, for the front office, for training, for scheduling for your patient, for efficiencies,” but as a dental assistant, that sucker was in my hands. And if I didn’t have it to give to the person in front of me at checkout, I wasn’t sure they were paying attention to me, if I’m honest with you. And these are… [chuckle] The girls that are in my head right now…

0:09:14.7 Britt: They only half are. That’s why. They’re only half paying attention.

0:09:17.6 Tiffanie: They are, right? And I have two… Two of my best friends, they’re twins, they worked with me, they are who are in my head right now because they were my checkout and my TC for many years. And I would just stare at them. And I’m sliding this. I’m like, “Tricia, I need eye contact so I can dangle this paper.” So to me as a dental assistant, I… Also, side note, I don’t know if you know me or not, but my memory is not super fantastic all the time and I won’t remember to do all the pieces. I won’t remember to tell you all the things that you need to know. And in my head, I’m trying to be as efficient and as quick as possible, so I will cut corners, and part of cutting those corners are, “I already handled it. Why am I passing this information off to you?” There’s great reasons. Your patient needs to hear it. Your front office needs to know it’s been taken care of, and they need to verify that what you did and what’s in the system are the same.

0:10:07.8 Tiffanie: So as a dental assistant, for me, this baton was like, pay attention to me because I have a role to play and I have these things I’ve written on here and I’m gonna read them off to you, and it’s gonna be beautiful, it’s gonna be this dance between the two of us, and I’m gonna be able to leave my patient knowing I’ve done everything that I could for them and I’ve passed the baton. Without physically passing something, for me, I still feel connected to that situation, like it’s not complete. But if I can physically pass that off and wash my hands of that situation for the time being, I can feel complete. Does that make sense?

0:10:47.0 Britt: Like it’s, know that I’ve fulfilled my part. I have passed on all the information, I didn’t leave anything hanging, they’ve got everything that they need to be able to take care of that patient, because honestly, as a clinical person, one, I just love that the patient’s name on there, because their name’s on it. I can make sure I’ve got the right person all the time. We can make sure that I call them the right name every single time, so love that that’s there. And then for me as a clinical team member, if I dropped that patient off and they have no idea what to do, it makes me look real bad. I didn’t do my part. It makes me look bad because I just left them and I… One, I left the patient and I left my team member, I left them both hanging. So I love route slips because everything can be on there. And I know having worked front desk, like front desk there, they’re doing a million things at once. So even while I’m talking to them, they’re probably wrapping something up so they can take care of that patient right in front of them. So if it’s written down, then I know they will make sure that they get everything that’s written down, taken care of and we’ve done our part as a team.

0:11:54.1 Tiffanie: Yeah, I think that’s huge. I love that. I love the accountability and the ownership that you’re taking in that. I love that you said knowing the patient’s name. I don’t know how many times my doctor’s come around on the other side and he’s looking at me and I’m all, “Ooh, Joe is excited to see you today.” I’m like, “I’ve been with this man for minutes,” and I have no idea who it is because my brain is somewhere else. I’m thinking about sterile. I’m like, “Has Josephine taken care of sterile yet? Are my hygienists okay?” Like, there’s so many things. And for my doctor, I know I love route slips for all the doctors, but my doctor would always look at the route slip to confirm the treatment that he was doing for that day, and he didn’t start treatment until he looked at that route slip, then heard it from my lips that I confirmed with the patient and that everything was good. He wrote on those route slips to make sure notes were in there.

0:12:43.2 Tiffanie: Bottom line is, do route slips, you guys. This is why we still love them, because they’re still super helpful. They ramp up your in-office communication a ton. They help patients understand what’s going on. And I think more than anything for the patients, it really secures the trust for them in you and your whole practice. They’re seeing you guys are all on the same page. When your inter-office communication is top notch, your patients see and feel that, and they’re feeding off of that. They’re gonna talk to you more, they’re gonna chit chat with you more, they’re gonna tell you what’s not good, what is good. I mean, they’re gonna tell you when they don’t wanna pay for something or can’t pay for something. You’re gonna be able to have those conversations and overcome those hurdles. And it seems insane that one little slip of paper can do so much, but it truly can. Otherwise, you guys, we wouldn’t tell you constantly to use route slips, I promise you. My efficiency and my earth-loving self would not be over here telling you to use route slips if I didn’t think they were going to work.

0:13:45.5 Britt: And I’ve seen people use digital inter-office communication, and I can tell you, the thing that makes me cringe a little is when it’s sitting there, digital, but maybe they’ve got a couple messages sitting there. So you walk this patient up, maybe they missed the name when you said it, and they’re like, “Who do we have here?” And I’m like, “Ugh.” Whereas like if you have a physical paper, you’re not gonna mistake it or have to ask that question, so you can always be on point.

0:14:16.7 Tiffanie: I love that. That was a good wraparound. I forgot that I had mentioned that there are a lot of practices that wanna do it with Slack or Yelp or… Not Yelp. What is it? I can’t think of all the names. All the different…

0:14:26.6 Britt: Yappee.

0:14:27.5 Tiffanie: Yappee, thank you. All the different… That’s not just really not Yelp, but all of those little interoffice communication tools are fantastic. But I do think… I think I’m totally fine with it if it’s gonna work for you if you can make it work. I don’t really care as long as you guys are doing the things right by your patients. But my question is, to each and every one of you, one, do you have a system and a process for your route slips? Do you have a protocol? So what is your protocol? No matter what you’re doing for your route slips, what is your protocol? Do your patients know your… Or your patients. Do your team members know your protocol? Do they know the expectations and the why behind them? And then three, if you’re thinking about switching or you’re using digital, I want you to think about your cell phone. How many people [chuckle] have text messages sitting on unread or have text messages that they’ve read that they haven’t responded to yet? Or go back to text message and I’m like, “I have no idea what we’re talking about here.” And I have to scroll back and read through. Same thing’s gonna happen with your little Slack messages or your Yappee or whatever tool, your Microsoft, whatever that you guys are using, the same thing’s gonna happen.

0:15:34.2 Tiffanie: I come into our Slack midday and I’m like, “Holy Hannah.” I’m like, “I was on a one-hour coaching call and I come back and the Slack is just like going.” Now, if I got off an insurance call for the last 40 minutes and I go into that to try to find patient information, that’s gonna be a pain. So whatever it is, I truly want what’s best for you guys. And if you feel that’s best for you, make it freaking work, I’m totally fine. But if you want my honest opinion and what I think you should be doing, I think paper or laminated sheets are the way to go, and we love them for that. So take inventory, look at what’s working for you guys, what’s not working for you. Figure out a route slip protocol and you guys just put them into place. And if you have questions or you’re like, “You know what, Tiff, you’re freaking crazy. Britt, you’re crazy,” [chuckle] tell us. Talk to us. Give us a review. Email, “Hello, I think this is going on Instagram or TikTok or something,” like comment. I don’t care. We wanna know too. Challenge us, or bring us the challenges that you are having with things like this that you think it’s just not gonna work, but I think it’d be really cool. Bring it to us. We wanna help you guys. So do those things. And Britt, do you have anything else? Like, I just love them. Do you have anything?

0:16:47.5 Britt: No, I think that’s it. Just use them. Communication is everything for the patient experience, communication, patient experience, all day long, every day. So find what’s gonna provide the best communication for your team and patient experience.

0:17:02.9 Tiffanie: Totally. I love it. I love it. Okay, go do the things. It’s not hard. Don’t make it hard, make it easy. Alrighty guys. That wraps up the Dental A Team Podcast Consulting Takeover. Let us know what you think. We love hearing from our listeners. You guys, honestly and truly, it makes us so happy. Drop us a five-star review or email us over at [email protected]. Either way, we just like to know that you like what you’re hearing. Again, we’d like to hear your questions. We wanna know. Thanks so much for listening and we’ll catch you next time on The Dental A Team Podcast.


0:17:35.6 KD: And that wraps it up for another episode of The Dental A Team Podcast. Thank you so much for listening and we’ll talk to you next time.

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