I have worked with treatment coordinators (TCOs) in orthodontics for over a decade now but it is only in the last few years that I have really made the most of having one in the practice both in terms of improving the overall patient journey but also in increasing case acceptance.
Part of the team
Treatment coordinators are now a firmly established member of the modern dental team. Many practices may not have a designated team member employed solely as the TCO – their practice manager, receptionist or nurse may already be fulfilling this role as an adjunct to their existing responsibilities. And how your TCO fits into the daily schedule of events depends entirely on you. Having tried and tested various ways of maximising my TCO over the years, working in tandem with the TCO during the actual initial consultation has been the most successful.
Each and every patient is different and so too are their needs. The TCO who is with you throughout the duration of the initial patient visit is able to present the options discussed with the patient/parent in a more tailor-made fashion.
The best TCOs are great listeners – active listening is key to effective communication, have fantastic people skills – being able to ‘connect’ with patients and parents, builds trust and confidence. They should also have a sound clinical knowledge and support the practice philosophy. For this reason, an experienced nurse can make an excellent TCO – especially one you work or have worked with on a regular basis. She/he appreciates the clinician’s expertise and treatment approach, and is often able to explain the stages of treatment/processes in more detail.
Another key requirement of a good TCO is someone who can confidently discuss large fees. It is my experience that some team members find talking about money uncomfortable. The TCO must feel fully confident in the practice fees being charged and be committed to practice growth.
In addition, it’s essential the TCO track all the new patients seen for consultation and is able to follow up patients who have not yet accepted treatment. Patients/parents appreciate follow up calls from the TCO rather than a team member they have not met before. The follow up call allows further clarification of preferred treatment options and payment plans.
There are some excellent treatment coordinator courses available for dental team members. The skills acquired on these courses can be adapted to suit the practice needs. I myself have been involved in TCO training in-house for a number of years. Every clinic has at least one or two members of the dental team who possess all the essential qualities that make a truly wonderful TCO – identifying that team member, developing their skills and allowing them to flouish in that role not only improves job satisfaction but also benefits the practice enormously.
The TCOs I work with are passionate about orthodontics. They enjoy building positive relationships with our patients – this impacts hugely on overall patient satisfaction which in turn leads to increased referrals into the practice. Creating ‘raving fans’ is key in growing any business. Without
question the TCO makes my job less stressful and more focused.
Runa Mowla-Copley BDS DipOrth graduated from Sheffield University in 1995 and has worked at a number of prestigious practices in London, including the award-winning Elleven Orthodontics. Runa is a member of the British Orthodontic Society and the Faculty of General Dental Practioners (UK). Her particular area of expertise is interceptive orthodontics and she is also experienced in dental marketing and PR. [email protected]