One thing is for sure, you are never actually going to see all four of these ladies standing this far away from the phone at one time. It has been a busy start to the year, which means we want to make sure we’ve upped our game in the ‘front of house.’
Last month, Dr. Lake wrote about how our dental assistants are superheroes in their own right, so it seems only fair that we turn the spotlight on the business team, too. You’ve also probably noticed a couple of cheerful new faces in the office or friendly voices over the phone, so allow me to take this opportunity to formally introduce them first.
We can all acknowledge that something feels slightly ‘off’ if Diane isn’t sitting in her usual spot; however, by now, many of you will have met Victoria – who more recently has gotten to play a little ‘musical chairs’ into the business office.
Talk about a quick learner, by the end of her first week it was like watching an orchestra conductor the way she was handling the phone, patients coming to check out, hygienists with questions, and confirming appointments via our texting software.
Obviously cross training is super important, especially in a small office when people take time off, so Victoria has been ‘apprenticing’ as a Treatment Coordinator since mid January. She observed some of my New Patient appointments in order to get a better understanding of treatment planning from the clinical perspective, which helps to support patients when they are reviewing everything with her in the business office. This is actually the part of her job that she enjoys the most; the one on one patient interaction. She thrives on the challenge of helping someone who may be feeling overwhelmed, get to the point that they can walk out of the building, and have a better understanding of not just the problem, but feel good about the solution. The bonus is if they are excited to get going with treatment.
The ‘First Officer’
Next up is our newest recruit, Shawnee, who you may see sitting in the co-pilot’s chair, next to Emilie, at the front desk. Some days it literally is like an Air Traffic Control Tower up there, trying to get patients ‘landed’ and ‘taken off’ on time. But she has come from an 8-doctor medical practice at St. Mary’s (some of you may even recognize her), and is therefore more than used to this kind of pace.
She says that aside from terminology and how we schedule procedures, the differences between a medical versus dental setting aren’t too dramatic, with the obvious exception that she now gets to work with two incredibly funny, awesomely intelligent, highly articulate, extremely attractive dentists. She is actually a big fan of our internal office communication system where all providers are able to give a head’s up when a patient is ready for check-out, as well as any special instructions regarding their appointment or further treatment.
The ‘Queen Bee’
‘You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar’ pretty much exemplifies Emilie . . . not that we’re literally catching flies. What I’m trying to say is that if you’re going to have someone deliver a bit of bad news (your insurance company didn’t pay as much as they said they would, your hygienist is deathly sick and we need to reschedule your appointment, or the WiFi in the waiting room is down), we can’t think of a nicer person than her to deliver it. She’s got a heart of gold. I’ve seen it. She wears it right on her sleeve.
Emilie admits that one of her biggest goals, challenges and struggles is that she really does try to please everyone and make them happy. She desperately wants to give you that “Unicorn” appointment (you know, a 4pm slot on the second Tuesday of only months starting with ‘J’), but it’s not always possible at that exact moment in time. However, she will diligently hunt one down for you as changes occur in the schedule.
Now I know Dr. Lake included some ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos in her post last month, and it’s not quite the same for the business team, but let me just say that Emilie can work some kind of ‘schedule alchemy’, especially when there’s a big Nor’Easter in the forecast! So here’s my face ‘before’ when I start to panic in the morning because the schedule looks like swiss cheese (all kinds of openings in it), and then by lunch time, after she has managed to get a patient in with every provider.
The ‘Godfather’ (err…mother)
Oh Diane, we are never ever, ever going to let you retire, so bury those dreams about driving off into a Florida sunset.
She’s the ‘Betty White’ (that’s a Golden Girls reference) of the office and everyone’s most beloved employee. It’s a wonder Diane is ever able to get any work done because people just tend to sit down and visit with her (patients and co-workers). And if she’s not around because she may have; a) stepped out to lunch, b) gone downstairs to the storage room to grab more copier paper, or c) the once every two year occasion when she gets sick, you’d think the world was coming to an end. Panicked choruses of, “Where’s Diane? Did she leave?” means the person covering for her spends a good ten minutes reassuring them otherwise.
Unfortunately, because Diane is in charge of literally everything behind the scenes to keep us running (staying on top of the accounts receivable, nagging insurance companies for reimbursement, nagging me for narratives to send to insurance companies for reimbursement…) it’s hard for her to get much accomplished when she’s treatment planning a patient (or two, or three) every hour, on the hour. So in order to help keep her stress levels down (you know, so she never retires) we are playing ‘Musical Offices’ and transitioning her to a secondary location where she can work, uninterrupted (mostly) and still keep an eye on mission control.
Business In Front, Party Out Back
Let’s be honest, these ladies are a special breed of multi-taskers!
Who else would be able to maintain their composure when interrupted throughout the entire course of the day by a ringing phone, someone checking in (or out), an assistant asking how to pronounce their next patient’s name, a hygienist wanting to know if insurance will cover x-rays, or me asking them to call in a meatball sub because I forgot to bring my lunch (again).
Maybe we need to trade the water cooler for a margarita machine?