The benefits of putting the scanner in the hands of the TCO

Stop scanning…put a digital scanner in the hands of well-trained dental nurse or TCO and boost patient confidence and practice profits, says Dr Andy Toy.

Correctly incorporating intraoral scanners into initial consultations is the key to signing up more patients for all types of treatment, creating a smoother consent process and avoiding any misunderstandings that could lead to legal proceedings, says Dr Andrew Toy of The Dental Business Academy.

Dr Toy, who has a master’s degree in clinical education, says: ‘The Itero digital scanner is an incredible communication tool, but too many practices are not using it enough, nor really understand its full capabilities or the role it can play in converting consultations into treatment.

‘It creates fantastic images, has the Invisalign outcome simulator and time-lapse functions, but all these things aren’t used by dentists because they think it’s merely an impression taking machine.’

He adds that a correctly-used digital scanner helps patients to understand and buy into their treatment plan, avoiding misunderstandings about what is involved and what the outcome will be.

‘The Itero scanner is absolutely fantastic…it is the gold-standard for record keeping and a patient who truly understands their treatment and wants it with you, isn’t going to sue you, but is going to recommend you to their friends and family; it’s all about garnering the patient-practice relationship and trust in that relationship.’

Taking scans

Dr Toy believes the best people within a practice to operate Itero scanners are experienced dental nurses who take on the role of treatment coordinator (TCO) and are properly trained to take digital scans.

‘They tend to be highly empathetic and want to know more about people. Patients are more likely to speak openly to a friendly face, someone who is their advocate throughout their journey, and who can also help them to understand a complicated treatment.’

He adds that too many dentists see gaining consent simply as a legal process, instead of an integral part of patient care, and therefore don’t invest in it.

‘For me, consent is about 5% legality and 95% patient care…it’s no good spending £10,000 per month on marketing, if when you’ve got that enquiry you don’t handle it properly. Do you know why patients sometimes don’t go ahead with a treatment? It’s because they don’t trust or are too anxious.

‘That’s where the TCO comes in. If you pass most of that responsibility to a really well-trained TCO, who is patient-centred and able to communicate in a way that’s appropriate to the patient, then that patient’s anxiety drops.’

Money saving

He explains another advantage of training dental nurses to be treatment co-ordinators is the cost saving for the practice, pointing out that a dentist’s time costs in the region of £300 per hour, while that of a TCO is approximately £30 per hour. ‘So if they’re trained to take the Itero scans, that’s huge time and money saving for the practice.’

Dr Toy is also emphatic in his belief that offering further training to dental nurses, and enhancing their roles, could help to prevent so many leaving the profession. ‘We’ve got to help nurses upskill otherwise so much untapped talent may be lost,’ he says.

Dr Toy has trained treatment coordinators since 1986, creating the TCO Blueprint training programme, alongside a Level 3 Advanced Diploma qualification for the Aligner TCO.

Follow on Instagram to keep up with all the latest dental news and trends.

Get the most out of your membership by subscribing to Dentistry CPD
  • Access 600+ hours of verified CPD courses
  • Includes all GDC recommended topics
  • Powerful CPD tracking tools included
Register for webinar
Add to calendar