How to improve communication in your practice

Making strides in communication at your dental practices is an ongoing process. Here are 7 tips to tune the way you interact with your team and help staff communicate more efficiently.

Have a meaningful morning huddle

A morning huddle is an opportunity to get everyone on the same page each day. Take a few minutes every night (or first thing in the morning) to prepare for the morning huddle by going over the day’s schedule to highlight any complex or problematic patients booked in for the day.

Hold monthly meetings

Although they might not be everyone’s favorite, meetings do serve a purpose. Hold a longer meeting every month to discuss policy shifts, share progress on current goals and introduce new goals. Meetings are also a time for team members to express concerns, ask questions and share ideas.

Learn to be an active listener

Listening is half of the communication process. Confirm that you’ve correctly heard what was said by verbally repeating the basic gist back to the speaker. Use a phrase like, “If I understand correctly…”

Use communication hacks

Leverage technology to improve communication processes but don’t give up on tried and true techniques either. Purchasing front desk task list software or setting up a Slack channel to streamline internal communication can be great ideas–but sometimes a sticky note on a patient’s file is a great way to get a message across.

Spend one-on-one time with your team

You want your staff to feel comfortable about approaching you with ideas or concerns. It’s actually time well-invested to chat regularly with everyone in your office. Keep the subject matter light and personal—hobbies, interests or family.

Improve communication during handoffs

It shouldn’t be a patient’s responsibility to explain the hygienist’s message to the dentist or reception’s message to the hygienist. Practice scripting handoff communication to ensure a smooth transition, something as simple as, “Mr. Jones is here for a cleaning and to talk about whitening.”

Keep at it

Even with the best systems in place, communication is not easy – particularly on super-busy days. Don’t get frustrated and give up on improving communication. Finding the best set of systems for your team and your practice takes time – and with staff turnover and improving technology, it will be an ongoing process.