Tricks and Tips from a TCO – communication mistakes

Tracie Barnett details the three most common mistakes of a treatment coordinator and why these are actually the most important bits to get right.

Having a treatment coordinator can be a massive asset to your practice, but in some cases their communication skills can let your practice and your patients down.

An efficient TCO should be able to communicate with all patients and follow them through their journey from the beginning to the very end.

The TCO is the advocate for your practice, the pillow that supports the clinician, the team and most importantly the patient.

The TCO is seen to be the happy, smiley, familiar face that seems to sort out all the problems and be super organised with it.

So, what lets them down?

1. No rapport building

A huge part of the TCO role is to build relationships with patients. To do this we must be able to relate to them and really connect.

By building rapport, your patients will feel more relaxed and comfortable during their visit with you.

This is a no brainer but all too common is it one of the mistakes that TCOs make.

Rapport building is a great way to get to know your patient and, actually, isn’t hard to do. Some of this is done in the initial phone call.

Is your patient going on holiday soon? Can you hear children or pets in the background?

If we carry this information into the consultation appointment we have the base of a great conversation.

If we don’t build rapport we can’t build trusting relationships.

Patients buy from people they like and trust!

2. No follow up system

The initial consultation is an opportunity for your patient to find out more information about your practice, the team and the services you offer.

Patients are often at different stages of their journey, some are gathering information and exploring the options, others are ready to start their journey and are on the search for the right practice or clinician.

Whichever point your patient is at, a robust follow up system should be in place.

The minute our patient leaves the practice, life takes over.

They may want to discuss the options given with their family or friends. They may intend on calling you back in a few days.

But life takes over, they forget and suddenly months have passed.

With a follow up system in place, we can track where each patient is at during their journey and stay in contact with them throughout.

It is also important for other team members to be aware of each patient’s progress.

3. Not listening to your patient

We must listen to understand!

When we understand our patient we can really help them.

The complimentary consultation stage is an opportunity for potential patients to gather information before they make any decisions. It gives them a chance to meet the team and to check the practice is the right one for them.

Before we can offer help and a solution to their problem, we must understand what the problem is, how it affects them and how it makes them feel.

And to understand the problem we must listen to the patient!

Giving treatment options needs to be made as personable as possible to suit your patient. By listening, we can then produce the best solution to help them.

These three common mistakes are actually the most important bits we need to get right.

Without these vital points your TCOs are risking a breakdown in communication, and potentially your patients searching for a better service elsewhere.

Each patient should be made to feel that the service you offer is unique to them.

Why does this happen?

Many treatment coordinators take on the role without any clear job description or guidance.

Without initial training, structure and support they may not even realise how important these steps are. Lack of allocated time to carry out the TCO role can affect the standard to which a TCO works.

Many are pulled away from the role to help with nursing duties or to cover staff sickness.

The practice must understand that the role isn’t just about carrying out free consultations. Lots of admin time is needed and should be given to help the TCO be as efficient as they can be.

How can we change this?

It’s all about training, systems and organisation. Once these are in place you can really stand out from the crowd, having a treatment coordinator is a USP for your practice but only if they are able to offer the service 100%.

Making an implementation plan will help ease your TCO into the role with clear guidance and direction.  This will enable them to understand the role and what is expected of them. Training should be provided before they are actively carrying out the role.

A trained, competent and confident treatment coordinator is a great asset to your practice.

Do not let them make the same mistakes so many others do!

I offer more tips and advice on this subject and others over on The Aligner TCO Network forum.

Read more by Tracie Barnett:

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