Team Communication

To provide care for your patients, as well as run a successful business you need to attract and keep quality team members. Your team needs to function in a choreographed manner in order to achieve practice success. Do you want enthusiastic, self-motivated, and satisfied team members? In order to build a team that meets these qualifications it is imperative you have effective communication. Patients are not judging the quality of care provided by the doctor but the perception of the quality of care that is being demonstrated by the way every member of the team treats them. Most patients joining the practice don’t know whether the dentistry being provided is exceptional or that the doctor is committed to excellent care unless someone tells them.

Three areas of impactful communication are:

Goals, mission, and vision: A shared vision and mission are needed from the bottom to the top of any organization, both at the team and individual level. To create harmony within team members sometimes all you need is one thing in common: Your goals/mission/vision can be that one thing! If every individual and the team have a clear concept of how their work helps to contribute to broader goals of the practice (production or otherwise), it is far more likely that they can work harmoniously to achieve them.
Morning huddle: without a morning huddle, it’s nearly impossible to make sure the entire team is on board and aware of unique patient situations that are expected during their daily appointments. As a result, patients tend to feel that no one knows what’s going on because their providers have not been made aware of their concerns, even if they’ve specifically asked and mentioned these concerns to someone on the team. Better communication means better patient care. Have you ever gone to see your medical doctor and they ask you questions you assume they should already know? Communication in the huddle also contributes to goal setting and making plans to accomplish those goals. Same day dentistry, large films that need to be taken, outstanding treatment plans etc.

Patient handoff: When your patients see the office staff communicating in a comprehensive and effective manner, they tend to feel better taken care of, because they are! There’s a difference in the assistant walking the patient up to the front desk, handing the route slip over, and saying goodbye than there is with prepared verbiage of “handing off” to the receptionist. A script should consist of: patients name, what work was completed that day, what they need to come back for, and most importantly a clinical reason why. While the communication appears as if it is between fellow staff members, it’s pulling double-duty as the patient witnesses the process unfold in addition to supplying the front desk with information to assist the patient with final steps of their appointment.

We know that 80-85% of our patients chose to work with your dental practice based on the relationship that is developed between them and you. Having more competition than ever before patient satisfaction goes beyond just being “the nicest dentist” around. Dental offices that are great communicators tend to have staff members who feel respected, patients who feel well cared for, and schedules that run efficiently. How we listen and speak to one another is something that requires constant attention and improvement if we expect to be successful in our careers and overall practice management.

How to get started? Set your goals! Share them with your team. Once your goals are set you will need to make plans to accomplish them. That is where a morning huddle will be crucial. I often hear doctors or office managers say they do not know how to have a huddle or run it more successfully. Revisit your structure by using the huddle resource provided! Remember, if you do not have goals set the huddle will seem unproductive or a waste of time to the doctors and the staff!

Vanessa Buchheit has 16 years of experience in the dental field. After success as an office manager completing many different coaching and management programs herself and having a 90% case acceptance rate as a treatment coordinator, Vanessa joined Henry Schein as a practice development coach and was quickly one of the most respected professionals in her industry. Vanessa has lectured extensively on several dental topics related to leadership in the practice, implementing periodontal programs, increasing case acceptance, or how to increase your New Patients with internal marketing. She also has several published articles such as “Stop hanging up on your new patients” in dental economics. Using her real-world professional experience coupled with her mastery of the business and attention to detail. She has the ability to identify areas for growth, implement winning systems and strategies. She now provides coaching and systems implementation with a hands-on approach that increases production and reduces stress.

For more questions visit or for a free consultation, contact her at or (855) 801-1125.