Ask Laura

From insurance to reactivating patients, we know obstacles pop-up, whatever you need we’ll help you find the answer.

How to Request Online Reviews?

ANSWER: Great question! First, let me say CONGRATULATIONS! I am glad you realize how important online reviews are to the practice. People are looking online for help with making decisions about everything from restaurants to healthcare providers. So, it only makes...

I have never filed a medical claim, what steps do I need to take?

QUESTION: I have filed a claim with Delta Dental for an impacted wisdom tooth and they denied it because they want myself, the dentist, to file a claim with medical first. I have never filed a medical claim and I am not what necessary steps need to be taken. Please...

How to help your team keep control of phone calls

QUESTION: My front desk team is spending too much time on the phone with patients.  They get involved in long conversations that do not go anywhere.  How do I teach them to cut back on the "chit chat" and get people scheduled!  ANSWER: Great question!  We all want to...

How to implement office systems into your practice

QUESTION: I have systems in my office but no one is using them properly?  How do I get my team on the same page? ANSWER: Great question!  The intention of office systems and protocols is to create efficiency, consistency and flow in the office.  What I have found is...

We Just Hired A New Unexperienced Employee How Do We Train?

Question: I have just hired a new team member.  She is young, this is her first "real" job and I am concerned that her lack of experience is reflected in how she communicates with people. What can I do to help her speak more professionally? Answer: You have taken the...

How to outsource A/R and or use a collections agency

QUESTION: Laura mentioned outsourcing A/R and using a collections agency if needed. She talked about interviewing the companies. What would we ask and what’s important to know? ANSWER:I recommend outsourcing things like Insurance Verification and Accounts Receivable...

How many breaks is too many for employees?

ANSWER: I have two ways to go about answering this question for you. First part is a management answer and then the second is a legal answer.  If you are questioning how many times your team members are getting up to go use the restroom or take breaks, then do you...

How do you handle dental patients that refuse to wear masks?

ANSWER:  You are not alone.  The pandemic has created a need for changes in protocols and has also created a space for people to question whether or not they feel the rules apply to them.   Good communication with your patients is your best defense against the rule...

What to do with your PPE Payments

PPE payments have become the latest problem for all Insurance Coordinators in the dental field.  Many offices have decided to not charge PPE but you now are getting a bulk payment for PPE and you are unsure what to do with it.  What to do with these payments are what...

We expect to have an empty fall hygiene schedule – What do we do?

ANSWER: You are already ahead of the game because you are being proactive and not waiting for things to fall apart.   How we handle the phone is crucial.  Are we allowing everyone to cancel? Or is the team  making every effort to get them in so we can take care of...

We are wanting to offer some payment plans for our patients.

QUESTION: We are wanting to offer some payment plans for our patients. I am looking more for an agreement that we can have the patient sign. How can we best track these in-house specifically....we are splitting payment up between 2+ payments and we want to have that...

How can I create more structure and systems in the front office?

Question: There was and is a lack of management and direction in the front office. So I am looking to help them create more structure and be more systematic. How can this be done? Answer: Our team members today are very different than in the past. They are very...

How do I prevent patients from walking in?

Q:  *How to avoid patients walking into the office vs them calling/texting the office to let you know that they have arrived?  A: Make sure when you confirm their appointment you go over the new protocols. It should also be added to any communications - texts, emails...

How many patients do we need to stay healthy and profitable?

Q: How many patients does Front Office Rocks recommend for a healthy 1 doctor & 3 hygienist practice? We currently have 3314 active patients who have been in our office in the past year and a half. The staff has been killing themselves for 2 years so we are...

When should we hire back or replace team members?

Q: When should offices replace team members that have left because of child care, or other obligations, due to the effects of COVID 19 even though production/profits are down?   A:  Add team members as needed.... just like when a practice grows. There is no need...

How Do You Handle Patients with COVID Contact?

Q: We had a patient (nurse ) get very upset . We asked the COVID-19 screening questions when she came in and she answered that she saw a COVID-19 patient yesterday. We told her we couldn’t see her for the prophy until after 14 days or if she tests negative. She thinks...

Pre-Covid Schedule and 6 Months Out

Question: We have added about 4-5 hours per week, per hygienist to fit in urgent patients who missed an appointment while we were closed. I'm wondering if you would recommend that we schedule in 6 months with our pre- COVID 19 schedule, or plan on keeping this...

What should my team do during downtime?

Question: What should I have staff do during this down time? The office is slow staff has done a lot of cleanup of supplies and rooms already. Answer: If your team has opportunities (I don't like using the word down time) available during the day and you feel all...

How to still manage and monitor employees away from the office?

Question:  "I'm an office manager. I want to see if Laura has a suggestion or a way to keep track of staff when the office manager is not on site? How to still manage and monitor away from the office?" Answer: If you have proper systems in place you should be able to...

New Patients During the Pandemic

I understand that right now we are all trying to survive and we are just in the moment trying to push through. We are hoping for things to get back to normal soon! You don't want to change the way we would handle our patients and the care that we provide for them....

How do I collect membership plan fees and keep my books organized?

Question: We have an in-house membership discount plan for patients without insurance where the patient pays $400 per year to get 2 cleanings, exams, etc. and 10% off dental work. We need to create a fee schedule for this plan so our books aren't all out of whack. As...

Help: I’m afraid to ask my employee for feedback

Ask Laura: Help I'm afraid to ask my employee... Help! I am a doctor and I am afraid to ask my employee how she feels about certain things at our office, and with her job honestly, because I am afraid of what she will say.  How do you suggest I have this conversation?...

Post COVID19 Front Desk – What does it look like?

*** Special Edition *** Every week we answer individual questions from offices, but the below answer is a result of multiple offices asking about what a re-open looks like at the front office. Things will not be “typical” in the dental office when we ‘re-open’ our...

How to Explain “Out Of Pocket” & Limited Exams to Patients

Question: How can I explain to patients to pay for their limited exam out of pocket so they don't use up the periodic exam? I would like some tips on how to approach patients when it comes to paying out of pocket. Answer: It is important to know and understand your...

Do you have scripting to use when rescheduling patients?

Question: Do you have scripting to use when rescheduling patients? ANSWER from Laura Hatch: We are in a weird time where we are having to cancel a weeks worth of scheduled patients or they are cancelling on us, depending on the status of your office.

What is assisted hygiene and does it really work?

QUESTION: What type of schedule have you seen work where the doctor incorporates assisted hygiene into their schedule? The reason they want to do this is because they are having trouble finding a good hygienist willing to see eight patients a day. They are in San Francisco and have a super competitive market for new employees. ANSWER: What assisted hygiene means is the hygienist works with a dental assistant so they can see more patients per day. In this type of schedule the assistant is doing part of the duties during the appointment.

We want to offer something to parents/kids for referring friends to our office. Any great ideas you can share?

Question: We want to offer something to parents/kids for referring friends to our office. Any great ideas you can share? ANSWER: I will start by saying that since I have never worked in a pediatric office, I am not going to claim that I am an expert in this area, however, I do have some thoughts. What I am about to say on this subject pertains to all offices that are running some sort of a patient incentive program.

If I have two front office team members how should I divide the duties?

QUESTION: If I have two front office team members how should I divide the duties (receptionist/scheduler) and (treatment/insurance/financial coordinator)? ANSWER: How you divide those tasks can really be done in a couple of ways. Begin by identifying where each team member shines.

How do you deal with patients who are requesting a specific hygienist?

QUESTION: How do you deal with patients who are requesting a specific hygienist. ANSWER: For practices that have more than one provider seeing patients, ie… multiple hygienists or doctors, the best-case scenario for the office, is to be able to move the patients around as needed according to what works best for the schedule.

Should I sign up for credit card processing for my office?

QUESTION: Should I sign up for credit card processing for my office? ANSWER: Think outside of the dental box for a minute and think about the rest of the world, there are not many places that you can go to where you cannot pay credit card.

I really don’t have time to train my employees…

Question: I really don’t have time for training my employees. We’ve tried in the past, but it always falls to the wayside. I’ve asked my team to take initiative and asked them to help each other. Isn’t it just easier to have my team show the new employees the ropes or how they do it? Or have the current employees train their replacements? Answer: You can use training to learn a skill or you can use training as a consistent positive reinforcement tool.

Should I only hire staff with dental experience?

Question: Should I only hire staff with dental experience? ANSWER: We had a question asking about if we need to hire somebody with dental experience or not when hiring for the dental office. This is one of my favorite topics and it is also a reason I founded and started Front Office Rocks.

I have a question regarding being the leader.

QUESTION: I have a question regarding being the leader. You gave an example of washing the dishes if you see there are dishes in the sink. What if you are continually washing the dishes and no one takes the initiative to do the task and it’s a given that “oh you’ll do it. How do you handle that? ANSWER: In one of my training videos here on Front Office Rocks I talk about being a leader in the organization and that you don’t have to have a title after your name to be a leader.

Should the front desk employees be responsible for marketing the dental practice?

Question: Should the front desk employees be responsible for marketing the dental practice? ANSWER: This is a hard question to answer because marketing can mean many different things depending upon who you ask. Your Front Office Team plays a huge role in converting marketing leads into new patients and encouraging patients to leave reviews and provide referrals.

How can I implement change without rocking the boat?

QUESTION: I bought a practice with existing staff….how can I change things or start implementing new things without rocking the boat or making the existing team feel threatened? ANSWER: We answered a similar question a few weeks ago and you can read it here. Change can make employees feel uncomfortable because it’s unknown and different. If they’ve always done it this way, you’re asking them to change a habit.

How to respond to negativity the right way!

How to respond to negativity the right way. QUESTION: We have an employee that is usually very easy going to work with but the second we give any constructive feedback, she becomes hostile and starts finger pointing at other employees and creating a negativity cycle for days until it blows over.

Help! My staff is defensive whenever I suggest trying something new…

QUESTION: Help! My staff is defensive whenever I suggest trying something new/something else and they’re very hesitant to change. It’s not personal, I just want to see if we can do it better. ANSWER: There’s a correct way to implement change and it should be a positive experience. Sit down with your team and discuss why you’d like to make this change and what your plan is, then open the discussion up to getting the team’s feedback.

Should I sign up with every PPO plan, a few PPO plans or no PPO plan?

Should I sign up with every PPO plan, a few PPO plans or no PPO plan? ANSWER: Deciding on which, if any PPO plans your office should sign up with depends on many factors, such as your demographic, competition, age of your practice, the economy of where you are located and so much more.

How do you answer – do you take my insurance?

How do you answer – do you take my insurance? ANSWER: This question has to be answered with yes or something positive. A patient only knows typically to ask two types of questions when they call into a dental office, something having to do with their pocket book or their insurance book.

What’s the best way to handle patient no-shows?

What’s the best way to handle patient no-shows? ANSWER: The office needs to be in control of their schedule and not fill it with flakey patients, so the best way to handle no shows is to get the patient’s commitment of the importance to show up, their agreement that they won’t not show up again without notice and charge a deposit to reschedule if it makes sense.

How can our office minimize cancellations or last minute no-shows?

How can our office minimize cancellations or last minute no-shows? ANSWER: There are three types of cancellations: new patient, hygiene and doctor production, each with their own issues. To minimize new patient cancellations, slow down, build rapport with the new patient, handle all their questions, and get them scheduled to come in within 48-72 hours.

How do I know when I need to hire another front desk/assistant/hygienist?

How do I know when I need to hire another front desk/assistant/hygienist? ANSWER: It is time to hire someone new to your team, if you know for sure your team is doing them most that they can efficiently, and things are not getting done in a timely manner or patients are not getting in right away.

How should this busy dental practice handle their quirky scheduling situation?

The dental office has kind of a quirky situation with scheduling. They have like a doctor that comes in in the morning and then a doctor in the afternoon. So they don’t they have a typical 8 hour, they have an eight hour day, but it’s not necessarily one Doctor all day long. There are four hygienist, they run two main production columns, and then they run a column of new patient and emergencies typically running seven chairs. They always schedule a new patient at 8:00, 10:00 and 1:00 and struggling with trying to get the Doctor in for the new patient exam and creating that five star service for that first appointment with a new patient.

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