The Dental Patient Hand Off Don’t Drop the Ball

It’s so important in a dental practice to offer great customer service. Patients don’t usually judge the staff on the dentistry as much as they do on how they are treated. There are many elements to integrate high-quality customer service into a dental office, but I find the best way to do this is to start one step at a time.

This article focuses on one of the missed opportunities in many dental offices that will not only improve customer service for your patients, but will also help your practice run more efficiently.

This missed opportunity is patient hand offs.

A hand off in a dental office is similar to a hand off in a football game. If the football is not handed off well to the next player then it might easily be fumbled or intercepted. In a dental office the players are the staff and the football is the patient. If patients aren’t handed off properly, they can easily become lost in the processes of the office, or information pertaining to them can get fumbled along the way.

Teams that fumble can easily have their patients intercepted by other dentists. The good news is this can be easily prevented.

A hand off is essential when providing excellent customer service.

From the moment a patient is seated until the moment they walk out the door after their appointment, they need to be directed by a staff member and handed off when moving from one area of the office to the next. Many offices attempt to hand off patients, but all they really do is walk the patient through the office to the next location and do not actually hand over the responsibility of the patient from one team member to the next.

A good hand off is not only physically leading the patient to the next place, but also verbally passing that patient to the next person on the team. Just as a football player needs to be in position and ready to catch the ball, a dental team member needs to be ready to receive the patient hand off.

When the hand off occurs, it’s important that the next person is ready and listening. The receiving team member needs to pay attention and put everything else aside for a moment so they can fully comprehend what they’re being told about the patient. The receiving team member must make sure they’ve received all data necessary so they can fully help patients get what they need next.

It’s important to communicate three things during a verbal hand off.

1. The first part of the hand off should consist of a synopsis of what was done, of important things that happened during the patient’s appointment. This allows the patient to get a summary of the great treatment they received in the office, and allows receiving team members to make sure they learn all that was done in case there were any changes.

2. The second piece of information for the receiving team member is the next step for this patient. This allows the team member to know what the patient needs next, as well as confirm the next step in front of the patient.

3. Lastly, was the information confirmed and understood so that the patient feels confident in the football being passed? The team member handing off the patient should confirm that the team member receiving the patient has all the data necessary so they can take the patient successfully through to the next step. A confirmation is also made with the patient that everything was correct and nothing was left out of the transfer of data.

Again, a good hand off, though it might not seem like it makes too much difference, can help instill trust with patients about the care they receive from your office. It may seem to instinctively make sense, but this is not the case for everyone on the team.

The step missed by many dental offices is not training everyone in the office.

Team members need to understand why a good hand off is vital and then actually practice it until it’s comfortable and feels normal for everyone on the team.

Remember, practice makes perfect, and with practice, your team can be like a well-prepared football team passing the ball seamlessly to make the touchdown.

Your Practice Matters To Us

Successful online dental team training requires communication, planning, and starting off on the right foot. So we’ve created a “Getting Started Checklist” designed to help you and your team implement training.

Book Your Onboarding Call 

Enroll Your Team and assign tracks

Visit the first track “Getting Started” 

Every office is unique as well as every team member in a dental practice. If you want training on a specific topic, these course tracks are for you!

Rockstar Restart – Reopening 

New Patient Accelerator 

Looking for more support? Our coach led training was curated to train your team for you.

View our coach led training options here. 

Our monthly membership starts at $224 per month for up to 20 team members and includes every course, module, and resource on our site.

Sign Up Now


Our monthly membership starts at $2250 per year for up to 20 team members and includes every course, module, and resource on our site.

Sign Up Now


Every office is unique as well as every team member in a dental practice. If you want training on a specific topic, or you need help getting started. Talk with us first!

Schedule A Free Training Assessment


2020 has forced business owners to pivot and adapt. Now more than ever the way we hire, who we hire and how we train is evolving. We are going to show you that you can learn to love hiring and how to train a new hire with no dental experience. Join us live! All sessions are recorded and you will have additional access to the replay after the event.

Sign Your Team Up

Looking for your next event speaker? 

As the leading authority on virtual dental front office training, Laura helps dental professionals who want to be better at what they do gain the training they need through online video courses, live seminars, and coaching. Learn more about Laura’s approach and how to book her for your next event.

Yes, Please!

With your membership to Front Office Rocks, you are never alone! We’re here for you and your team. Need to talk to us, send us a message or give us a call.

800 914 3595

Send us a message

We’ve created a self-help section on our site to help offices:

  1. navigate the platform
  2. learn how to set up their students
  3. answer common questions about your subscription and account.

Visit the Self-Guided Help Center

We’re here to help your team overcome obstacles and find ways to improve!
Search for an answer or submit a new question to Laura.