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Bridging the gap: Practice management systems allow you to expand organizational strategies

June 18, 2016
We use many different strategies to maintain consistent communication and organization throughout the day, but the biggest by far is utilizing our practice management system.

Practice management systems allow you to expand your organizational strategies

By Melissa Katzenmaier, RDH

When people ask me what a typical day at the office looks like, I tell them that each one is different. Not only am I treating hygiene patients, I am managing finances for both the office and the building. The only thing that stays consistent is my biggest responsibility-multi-tasking.

One of the most challenging tasks in the practice I work in is trying to bridge the gap between the front and back offices. We use many different strategies to maintain consistent communication and organization throughout the day, but the biggest by far is utilizing our practice management system. Take a page out of my book to get organized in 2016.

Schedule yourself-Staying organized is the best way to accomplish the many tasks I am responsible for each day. I use my practice management scheduler to put blocks on my calendar so the entire dental staff knows when I am available. I encourage everyone at the office to do the same, as this in itself is a form of communication. It helps us to know who is available when, so we can gauge our expectations for the day or week.

Another feature of our practice management software that I use regularly is called Task Manager. This program sets up daily reminders for the things I need to take care of. I'm able to schedule out recurring tasks for weekly, monthly, or yearly items, so nothing gets left behind.

This self-communication helps me to stay organized and tackle necessary projects when they are most important. The Task Manager helps keep the dental staff accountable for their specific responsibilities while also showing areas in which we can improve and work as a team to pick up the slack.

Communicate frequently-To counteract the challenge of miscommunication between the front office and back operatories, we make frequent communication a priority. The staff is much better prepared if they are aware of what is going on in all areas of an office, not just where they are working that day. Although it can be harder if you are in your operatory all day long, Eaglesoft, our practice management system, helps to solve this issue.

Our go-to communication helper is Eaglesoft Messenger. We are able to send a message to anyone in the office individually across multiple floors, or message the entire staff instantaneously.

This can be especially helpfully when you have a patient in the operatory and dental work needs to be scheduled. We can send the financial coordinator a message stating that we have future treatment. By the time we bring the patient to the front desk, the administrative assistant knows what the appointment is for, how long the new appointments needs to be scheduled for, and be able to tell the patient his or her payment for the recommended procedures.

Organize your team-The best way to face the day is to begin with a morning huddle. If this isn't attainable in your schedule on a certain day, use your practice management system as a placeholder. We add notes to our patients' appointment schedule for the entire staff to see, again allowing us to be more unified and aware of the varying items associated with each case.

We know that better communication between staff leads to better communications with our patients. With clear strategies, we can alleviate discrepancies or misunderstandings between both staff members and patients.

It doesn't take much to take control of your office and bridge the gap between the many different areas for which you need to divide your attention. Work to make communication and organization a priority and you will soon see the rewards-better efficiency leads to more patient visits and a higher ROI. RDH

Melissa Katzenmaier, RDH, graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1997. In 2003, she attended Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) in Appleton, Wis., where she earned her licensure as a registered dental hygienist. Since 2003, Katzenmaier has taught at FVTC and volunteered at the Tri-County Community Dental Clinic. Melissa started working in her father's dental office in 2008, assisting the front desk and currently works at Elite Smiles Dental.