Rachael Oborny discusses her role as a treatment coordinator
When I joined Tamworth Dental and Implant Clinic as their treatment coordinator (TCO), I had been working as a personal assistant for the managing director of a dental lab for three years, although I did have some TCO experience obtained prior to this role. I loved my previous job, so I went along for the interview mainly out of curiosity, I definitely didn’t expect to fall in love with the practice and the position they were offering me the way that I did! The dentists here have 100% trust in me to carry out the true role of a TCO, which is why I believe we have a system in place that really works.
As a TCO, my role is right at the heart of everything in terms of building up a close relationship with each patient and having a good insight and understanding of their treatment to be able to discuss things as and when they need to; I’m a bit like the agony aunt of the practice! All of this helps to put people at ease throughout their treatment journey.
During our initial consultation the patient may be focused on just one thing they don’t like, such as misaligned teeth in the upper jaw. I help them to look at things as a whole picture, because it is often the case that once the first problem is fixed, they’ll find another one to worry about, like a missing tooth in the lower jaw. I find that by working with each patient to assess their whole smile and all the areas they might like to improve we can do things in a more cost effective way for them, while also increasing treatment take up and practice revenue. Obviously, this is always done in an ethical manner, the dentists will follow up on these consultations with their clinical advice and formulate individual treatment plans that leave the patient with lots to choose from.
After this initial stage, I will then phone the patient to follow up with them. This gives them the opportunity to ask me any questions that they may have thought of since leaving the practice, whether that’s about the treatment or the finances, to help them to come to a decision about whether to go ahead or not. I think this is one of the biggest benefits of having a TCO in a dental practice, it is quite common for a patient to not follow up on their treatment plan without that extra, gentle nudge to do so; a good TCO can do this without being forceful.
Discussing finances and patient plans
Part of being a TCO is discussing finance options with patients, and they are often comfortable talking about this because they feel at ease with me from the initial consultation. At Tamworth Dental & Implant Clinic, we work hard to find a way to help our patients manage the cost of their treatment. We have finance options available to help spread the cost, but there have been some circumstances where patients haven’t been accepted for this. We never want a patient to feel as though they can’t go ahead with dental work that could benefit their life, so we’ll always find a solution to help!
Our patient plan is not just a great source of income for the practice, it is an excellent way for our patients to remember to regularly attend their check ups and hygiene appointments; it works for both sides! We’ve recently switched over to Patient Plan Direct (PPD) as their admin fees were so much lower than our previous provider, therefore we retain more of the plan income, which then reflects on the patients’ charges. PPD also offered an excellent aftercare service and have supported us throughout this transition, which has helped with gaining more patient loyalty enabling me to focus on treatment planning and patient support.
Our plan now ensures that we can offer flexible patient plans that suit our patients, and we loved the added benefits of PPD’s insurance, which includes dental implants following a trauma and also redundancy cover so our patients know they are looked after should an incident happen. We offer 10% off all treatments therefore giving patients a good discount especially should they need more complex work.
I’m always looking at my diary a week ahead of schedule, so when a patient walks in I already know if they’re not an existing plan member so it will be on my mind to discuss this with them. If a patient wants to see exactly how it would benefit them, I do this by looking at their dental history and applying our plan to their needs to show the cost and health benefits that they would enjoy by signing up. Our plan definitely works a treat, in fact it sells itself the majority of the time!