Start From The Inside – Common Internal Communication Problems In Dental Practices That Influence Patients

by Derek Jones, VP Enterprise Strategy, Americas

An effective communication system is key to positive patient experiences and a more productive environment for healthcare practices. Prompt medical delivery services or quality treatment of patients are significant determinants in whether a healthcare practice succeeds or fails.

Additionally, patients are also more comfortable talking about their health outcomes with healthcare providers who are more empathetic and open to communication. There is no doubt that a well-nurtured, healthy relationship between clinical staff is a precursor to a good doctor-patient relationship.

For an effective and professional work atmosphere, it is crucial to monitor how internal communications work and the impact that they have on your patients. According to a study conducted by Gatehouse, 38% of organizations voted for developing a robust internal communication strategy as their top priority.

Let’s look at some of the issues that can hinder the effectiveness of communication channels within your practice:

Improper Scheduling Of Dental Staff

Having a work schedule for all your employees makes it easier for them to manage their time and breaks.

However, the non-stop flow of patients and the staff rushing them to and from procedures and appointments can make working in dental practices quite hectic. This can make it easy for the employees to keep up with the constant changes in their schedules.

They may even forget to time in and out altogether.

With all that going on, it can be difficult for everyone in the dental team to get access to a workstation and check if there have been any changes or updates in their shifts.

This makes it essential to set up an efficient online scheduling system that allows you to assign shifts based on employee availability and expertise. Include additional options the flexibility to swap shifts through the database without having to manage substitutions manually.

These apps should have a streamlined and intuitive interface that prioritizes user experience above all else. Keeping staff informed at one place with patient appointments and employee schedules reinforces the importance of building a community in your dental practice.

Challenges Of Teleworking

The 2020 pandemic brought with it a brand-new work culture: remote working.

As dental practices work hard to adjust to this unprecedented change, many team members aren’t sure what the future may hold for their careers in the dental business.

It is vital to build a solid internal communication plan and then act on it as a team.

Telework is unchartered territory for pretty much everyone in this industry, so set up a temporary telework agreement that details what everyone needs to do. It should offer guidelines on physical safety, recommend breaks, and provide ergonomic recommendations to ensure the safety of your remote workforce. Also, make sure you put on measures that protect your patient data.

Use applications that let your staff clock in and out from their mobile devices, so they continue to do it while working remotely. Furthermore, employers can also set it up to get a live update whenever any staff member checks in. This efficient way of recording attendance makes it easy for patients to see which of the staff members are available for a virtual appointment.

Additionally, the dental team can use the same technology to give their clients live virtual sessions on taking care of oral health and wellness. Or managers could have live online workshops to educate staff members on the importance of using sterilized equipment and following health protocols.

Lack Of Digital Tools That Enhance Communication

Patients observe everything about the clinic while they’re waiting for their appointment – from the way staff members communicate with one another to the safety protocols they use. That’s why effective communication between health professionals is more likely to leave a patient feeling satisfied with the practice.

Consider installing software or applications that integrate with your existing operating system to minimize costs.

Dental office management should employ third-party applications like Google Hangouts or Slack to make communications easier between receptionists, consultants, and dental surgeons. For example, a receptionist can alert the dental consultant through a message about the arrival of a new patient. Similarly, a dental practitioner can give a quick heads-up to the front desk clerk without leaving their office.

These communication channels make it easy to streamline workflows, improving the efficiency of your workplace.

Workplace communication and effective listening go a long way in inculcating successful practice management. Patients feel respected and cared for when they see a sound internal communication system.

An Ineffective Feedback System

An effective feedback system is the cornerstone of a communicative and responsive dental practice.

Giving specific feedback means using clear and precise language to communicate your needs. For example, as an employer, you should be specific with your employees about how their actions have impacted the practice.

Additionally, research shows that managers who give feedback have 30% more engaged workers, with 57% of workers appreciating negative feedback.

When offering negative feedback, make sure you’re able to point out specific mistakes so employees know how to avoid those in the future and ensure a safe healthcare practice.

Failure To Update To Cloud-Based Electronic Health Records

According to Health Information Technology, around 32% of individuals who visited a healthcare provider within a month reported a gap in information exchange and had to get one or more tests done again.

Moreover, 3 of every ten tests are misplaced either due to lab transfers or during the exchange of information from one practitioner to the next. Such inaccuracies and loopholes in recording patient’s health records can affect a patient negatively, impacting the reputation of your healthcare practice.

There are various online apps that you can use to streamline all your staff communication in one place. Having a common platform to share critical updates and important messages will keep your team informed and connected and make a quick decision in times of emergency.

Thanks to advanced cloud-based technological systems, all this data can easily be stored and updated on one database. Providing system access to employees will make sure that each dentist has updated information about each patient that can help them to make medical decisions accordingly.

Key Takeaway

Effective communication and interpersonal relationships benefit dental care professionals by garnering higher work satisfaction and motivation to do better. Having flexible work schedules and organized datasheets can also garner a significant decrease in work-stress and pressure.

Patient satisfaction tends to improve as the frequency of visits increase. Therefore, dental practices must focus on inculcating communication and organization skills for a healthy dental environment.

About the Author

Derek Jones, VP Enterprise Strategy, Americas spearheads key initiatives at Deputy, a global workforce management platform for employee scheduling, timesheets and communication.  With a focus on Healthcare, Derek helps business owners and workforce leaders simplify employment law compliance, keep labor cost in line and build award-winning workplaces. Derek has over 16 years’ experience in delivering data-driven sales and marketing strategies to SaaS companies like MarketSource and Griswold Home Care.