Show Patients You Care with Effective Handoffs

Have you ever had to repeat health-related concerns to multiple members of a healthcare team?  Having to repeat yourself can prove extremely frustrating, especially if you or someone you love is in discomfort.  How much trust is built between you and the clinical team when it seems no one is listening?

Contrast this to appointments where one team member listens to the patient and then ensures that the doctor and team are well informed.  Patients do not need to repeat important information.  In this situation, patients know you care because the effort is made to listen and make sure everyone is on the same page. When patients know you are listening and making the effort to understand their needs, their trust in you grows, and this trust leads to strong patient retention, more internal referrals, and higher treatment acceptance.

One of the best ways to make sure you are informed about your next patient is to have effective hand-offs.  What makes for an effective handoff?  Most effective hand-offs will contain the following:

  • Chief concerns.
  • Pending treatment.
  • Periodontal and/or hygiene recommendations.
  • Changes in health and medications.
  • Personal items of interest.

Here is an example of a hygienist handing off to the doctor. “Dave and I talked about the two crowns on his treatment plan, and I took new photos of each tooth.  I recommend he continue coming every six months for preventive care.  There are no changes in his health although he did add a new medication for cholesterol.  Next month Dave is going to his thirtieth high school reunion.”

Consider how much important information was relayed in the handoff.  For a doctor who has just come from treating another patient, this type of handoff is perfect for focusing the doctor on the hygiene patient’s needs.  The handoff also demonstrates to the patient that you care enough to go the extra mile.

Since the most important patients in your practice are the ones seated in your dental chair, make sure those patients feel valued.  With some extra effort, you can implement consistently effective handoffs that will improve the overall patient experience.

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