October 18, 2014
Every dentist wants to provide the best care possible for their patients. Everything from making sure the patient feels comfortable the moment he/she walks through the door to the actual dental procedures. But how can a dentist provide undivided attention and the best care possible to their patients when a dentist has to also manage the staff, technology, business and marketing sides of a dental practice? The answer is – a dentist can not do it alone. We need the right person to handle the issues that appear in the everyday dental practice routine.
A dental office manager plays a vital role in the success of the dental business. It is one of the most versatile positions out of all members of the staff. Many dentists figure that they can just appoint one or two members of staff to oversee certain areas of their business in order to save money by not having to hire an office manager. It the long run, this could actually cost the dentist a lot more in lost revenue. Why? Because staff get busy, things get forgotten or put on the 'back burner', there is a change in staff, etc.
A dental practice is a business in a very competitive niche. It needs to be run smoothly and be in top shape, or the practice risks losing out to competitors and ultimately, a drop in overall income. This is where a dental office manager comes into play. The main goal of any office manager is to make sure the practice operates smoothly, patients are satisfied and income remains steady or is growing. The duties of an office manager include:
Staff Management and Support
An office manager is responsible for hiring, training, scheduling, and overseeing day to day operations of the staff. Is everyone doing the job to the best of their abilities? Are they recommending products and services? Are the phones being answered within 3 rings? Are insurance claims being submitted correctly and claims followed-up on? Is the billing and accounts receivables up-to-date and accurate? Are incoming and outgoing lab cases monitored e.t.c.
Handling staff grievances, changes in scheduling, and keeping track of which staff member is due to renew continuing education credits or certifications and training of new staff members or training staff members on procedures and equipment, are all part of an office managers duties as well.
Sometimes the staff will get swamped with work. Things just happen where an employee is sick or out on medical leave. Maybe a staff member suddenly quits and a new replacement hasn't been hired yet. The schedule may become busier than usual with patients needing emergency treatment, influx of new patients, or the holiday season is fast approaching. Whenever the staff needs a helping hand, the office manager is there to give it to them. Whether it would be scheduling, billing, insurance and accounts receivables, or making a phone call to confirm an appointment, schedule a lab pick-up, or a patient referral, an office manager is there to pick-up the slack and fill-in the gaps. Patients can also speak directly to the office manager about an issue with a staff member or an issue with the office or dentist.
Technology has entered into the dental practice in a major way. Computers and various software programs have become a huge asset from scheduling to treatment planning to inventory to the office finances. With a heavy reliance on technology, there is always a piece of equipment that is going to break, glitches in the software, human error, or a printer, router, or computer won't synchronise with other devices connected to the in-house network. An office manager is responsible for dealing with these unavoidable technical problems that will happen at some point. He or she wil know which technical support person to call, where a spare piece of equipment is stored, or how to troubleshoot a particular problem to determine if it is human error and can be fixed in-house or if a technical support person needs to be called or an item needs to be shipped out for repair.
Whether it would be handpieces, sterilization equipment, evacuation system, or intra-oral cameras, etc. , all need maintenance at some point. The office manager is responsible for keeping track of which piece of equipment was inspected when, ordering new equipment, sending equipment for repairs, and making sure the staff is doing their job properly when it comes to cleaning and sterilizing handpieces, proper use of sterilization equipment, laboratory equipment, and the evacuation system.
Marketing, social media, website management
The office manager is responsible for overseeing the marketing staff or handling the marketing, social media, and website management if the dentist does not employ a marketing person or team. Everything from making sure in-house marketing, (brochures, posters, staff making mention of products and services such as teeth whitening, etc), are strategically placed in the office and all staff is up-to-date on products and services being offered, to social media management to website management, are all handled by the office manager. There is no point in purchasing marketing material, offering add-on services such as teeth whitening, creating social media accounts, and spending the money to have a website built, if these tools are not going to be used to their fullest potential or kept up-to-date.
Sales representatives and inventory
An office manager will deal directly with any sales representatives that walk through the door. The staff will make the office manager aware of any products that need to be ordered and in what quantity. The office manager will keep track of inventory and make sure all products are received and accounted for.
The exact duties of an office manager can be defined and customized according to each practices needs. The bottom line is, the office manager is there to be the go-to person that takes the pressure off from the dentist so the dentist can focus on patient care. The office manager answers to the dentist. The staff answers to the office manager.