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Dr. Michelle Jorgensen


Practice Management

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Streamline the Health-Based New Patient Appointment

streamline the new patient appointment blog post header 2
A common complaint I hear from doctors that want to incorporate health-based care into their practice is, “The patients ask too many questions and the exam takes too long!” 
They can’t figure out how to incorporate the kind of comprehensive exam the patients are looking for into a busy day at the practice.  
I struggled with this for years.  I ran the exam appointment many different ways, but they were all wrong!
  • I tried to include too many tests in the exam, which led to too many non-dental questions after the exam.
  • I asked a lot of health-related questions, which led us down long paths that didn’t lead to dental care.
  • I didn’t delegate any of the diagnostics parts of the exam and wasted so much time charting restorations and perio.
  • I shared too much information and detail with the patient and they left confused without accepting care.  
  • I gave too many options and didn’t make a strong first-step recommendation

and more…..

The Total Care Dental Physical is carefully crafted and thorough yet efficient. 
I have trained my team to handle 90% of the appointment and patients leave with a signed treatment plan, financial arrangements in place, a bag full of supplements and health aids and a next appointment.  

How the Total Care Dental Physical Works

I want to walk you through a Total Care Dental Physical appointment at our office to give you a peek into how this can work, during a busy day at your office!

  1. New Patient phone call – the goal of this call is always to get the patient scheduled – it’s not to teach them about everything they ask questions about!  If your team says the new patient phone call takes too long, they are answering too many questions!!.  The answer to all clinical questions on this phone call is “That’s a great question!  I’ll make sure Dr. _______ answers that at your appointment!”
  2. Diagnostics – these are completed by a dental assistant.
  3. Intraoral findings – these are also all completed by a dental assistant.  If you have a hygienist available to perio chart, that is a bonus!
  4. Interview – this is completed by the team member that will be helping you with the treatment plan.
  5. Comprehensive exam – this is when you enter!  Have your team member read off the interview information and all the intraoral findings.  Verify the findings, then add the treatment plan (teeth, gums, joints).  Don’t explain anything yet – that comes next and slows you down at this point.
  6. Co-diagnosis – go through all the findings, including the CT scan, with the patient.  This is the time to share and have the patient help diagnose and create a plan.  Reinforce the oral-systemic connection. Create a treatment plan and tell the patient how glad you are that they came.  Plan for 10-15 minutes.
  7. Finances and Scheduling – This is also handled by your team member and you are helping another patient by now.
We have a template for this Dental Physical that we use EVERY time. 
If you follow a system, your efficiency increases exponentially.  If you are interested in this Total Care Dental Physical Exam Sheet click below and you can get my ENTIRE new patient paperwork kit used in my office everyday.

This CAN Work In Your Practice

I know you have doubts this can work this smoothly…

…and I’ll be honest, sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s the exception, not the rule.  

I think you will be surprised to find that when you train your team members, then let them work their magic, they have greater job satisfaction, they sing your praises, and they help people get the care they need.  
Questions I often get when training doctors in the Total Care Dental Physical:
Question: How do you find team members that are capable of running this appointment?  
Answer:  They are probably right there under your nose.  Often the problem is your training and then letting them do it without micromanaging them.  If you really want more time, let them learn and trust them to do it!  Living Well Professionals has team training along with every module if you need help with this as well.
Question: Will patients feel like they are rushed if they don’t have an hour or more with the doctor?
Answer:  The patient will be in your office for 1 1/2-2 hours.  They will feel very cared for, and recognize that you are different than other dentists.  They get the best of your undistracted time and don’t want to be there longer than it takes to get the answers they are looking for! 
Question: How do you get patients to say yes to this expensive care?
Answer: At the beginning of the exam I tell every patient, “My job is to show you everything I would want to know if this were my mouth.  Then your job is to let us know what you want to do about it!  You can do some of it, all of it or none of it.  It’s totally up to you.”  The patient visibly relaxes at this point and it’s no longer a sales conversation.  If they ask me about money, I say things like “yes it’s a lot of money to fix this stuff.”  I don’t avoid it but let my team take care of the details. If they want it they will figure out a way to make it happen.
Question: Why don’t you include a lot of health exams and tests in this exam?
Answer: I used to.  I don’t anymore because I found patients were asking me questions about their diabetes or their cortisol levels, not their teeth.  I’m their dentist.  I talk about how their teeth affect their health, and make recommendations for health care providers that can expand on the care we provide, but I want most of the conversation to be about the things we will help with – and that’s their dental needs.
If you would like a copy of the Total Care Dental Physical Exam Sheet, along with all my other new patient paperwork, click below.  Let me help shortcut your learning and time so you can help more people!