Question: 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. We just had a patient cancel 5 min prior to their appointment because they were not seeing the hygienist they wanted to see. However, when a schedule falls apart we consolidate the hygiene schedule to one hygienist. Ideally, I want very few of these preferred hygienist patients but I don’t know how to control that.

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. However, there are some patients who only want to see a certain provider and of course, the office should honor that. Here are some suggestions on how to manage this issue.

1) Make sure the team is being very clear not to communicate to the patient that they will see a certain provider or offer the option to only see one provider. This is especially important from the clinical team, as they like to have the guarantee that a patient only wants to see them, however, it makes it very hard when that provider does not have availability or is not working. [mepr-show if=”loggedout”]Members only resources[/mepr-show] [mepr-active memberships=”629,630,37388,37393,37672,37676,37670,37668,37674,44674,232156″ ifallowed=”show” unauth=”message” unauth_message=”Answer hidden, please login or purchase a membership to view.”] The communication should always entail that every clinician at the practice is amazing and the goal is to find the day and time that works best for the patient to get the treatment done.

2) However in some cases, a patient will request to only see a certain provider and in that case, the office should honor that or be very clear when that can’t happen. When a patient asks for a certain provider only, the team member should mark that in a place in the practice management software so it is obvious and then communicate to the patient that the office will do their best to honor that but in case it can’t happen, they will let the patient know in advance so they won’t be surprised to see a different provider or to reschedule with plenty of notice. Then if there is any change in the schedule with the clinicians, those patients that request only to see that provider should be notified and handled accordingly. Many times when that happens if handled correctly by the team member the patient ends up being more concerned with keeping the original time that fits into their schedule that they end up seeing the different provider in the long run. Then when that appointment is done, if the patient is ok with the change, ask them if both providers could be considered in the future to care for them. However, there are some patients, typically super fearful patients that will definitely want to move their appointment to when their preferred clinician is available and the office should honor that request.

3) The biggest issue is that the office as a whole needs to have a “no big deal” feeling toward the patient about seeing different providers. If the office focuses too much on that issue, the patients will focus on wanting a specific provider which makes it hard on changes in the schedule. There will be certain circumstances where the patient is going to have an issue and putting customer service first, the office should never surprise the patient when they arrive with the news that they are seeing someone new or that they have not met before.[/mepr-active]

To learn more about providing your dental patients with the best patient experience possible, visit the following doctor training webinar course module! [wpcourse course=”44″ module=”9″ module_desc=”true” /]