How To Gain Maximum Benefit From Verbal Communication in the Back Office: The Hygiene Notification

Technology is a wonderful thing.

It allows us to use mechanical items to replace humans.

And on many occasions this is definitely worthwhile.

However, in the Dental Office, there are times, when the automation of a human task is to the detriment of process in that office.

One such time is the point in the day when the hygienist requires the dentist to attend her treatment room to conduct the thorough Dental Examination for the hygiene patient.

This is one point in the dental day when maximum human interaction is a process of great benefit to the Dental Office, as well as to both the hygiene patient and the Dentist’s restorative patient as well.

I’ve discussed the how-to of this important stage in a previous blog

However the replacement of *maximum* human interaction by any form of automation or diminished human participation seriously detracts from the derived benefit the office gains in creating an inviting environment of caring coworkers behaving warmly and lovingly towards each other and towards their patients and towards their duties and roles within the office.

Thinking away from the Dental Office for just a moment, nothing turns a client or a customer away from a business more than having to deal with or do business with an employee or agent of that business who verbalises how much they don’t wish to or want to be there at work at that particular point in time.

Nor do customers like doing business with employees and agents who communicate those same feelings and emotions in a non-verbal manner through their actions and their tonalities.

And the opposite is true.

It is always such a great pleasure, in every part of day to day living, when we come across someone who enjoys their role in life with such passion that that passion exudes from their pores so freely that we as customers cannot do anything but be swept up with their enthusiasm.

So in the dental office we should not want to lose or forgo any opportunity to verbally communicate enthusiasm and love in our workplace just because the opportunity of automation of a process now exists, just because of automation.


And so it’s imperative that while we have the tools of automation available to us, there are some processes in the Dental Office that are still best performed out by humans [in a correct manner] rather than be replaced by automation.

Take a moment.

Can you remember having ever phoned an organisation where you’ve had to go through a multitude of questions and choices pressing number after number on your telephone keypad before you finally get to speak with a real live person?

It’s frustrating.

Because in that instance, we know what we want, and we know that if we were to ask a human, rather than be fed down a conveyer belt of automated questions and answers, not only would we save time, but we would also arrive where we want on our phone call in a much more relaxed frame of mind.

Because of the preparatory human interaction in getting us, as callers, from the ring, to where we want to go.

With human participation.

And we know, every time that we experience one of those phone calls, we know that that organisation is missing a great opportunity to reach out and “connect” with us, as a client or customer first and foremost.

And that’s what I don’t want us to forget when we design our delivery systems within our dental office.

As technical people, we dentists sometimes forget that there’s a human being with human feelings and human emotions connected to the teeth and the mouths that we perform our magic upon.

And I know that the Dentist can be notified by the press of a mouse or the activation of a light or buzzer.

I know that.

However, with all this background in mind, the opportunity of creating and executing a perfectly choreographed interaction of “connection” between the Doctor and the Hygienist is of far more benefit to the Dental Office than the “conveniences” created by automating and de-humanising the process.

Let me explain.

We decided that the best way for the dentist to be alerted to his summoning to the hygiene room was for the hygienist to come into the doctor’s treatment room and get the dentist herself.

When this is done correctly, the entry of the hygienist to the treatment room acts as an advertisement for the hygiene department, and also acts as an advertisement for the wonderful personality of the hygienist.

It allows the dentist to excuse himself from the treated patient and “introduce” the hygienist’s service, as he leaves the treatment room for a few minutes….if the dentist’s patient is known to the hygienist it also allows opportunity for the hygienist to “acknowledge” the doctor’s patient….in all cases the personable arrival of the hygienist is a positive interruption for the practice…with a positive result.

This is because it also allows us, as mentioned in previous blogs, to expose and show off our air of kindness atmosphere and culture, in the way we herald and announce this interruption to the Dentist.

So, here’s what the hygienist says and does….

Firstly, the hygienist enters the dentist’s treatment room. She knows where to stand, so that her presence is known, and then she starts speaking. She stands just to the right side of the dentist. She has paperwork, including paper notes, that she can show the dentist if need be, without him having to turn or crane.

Her script, when she speaks, is polite and friendly, but more importantly it is purposeful. She has a specific message to inform the doctor, as well as a specific subliminal message for the patient being treated.

She says, “Excuse me Dr Moffet”.

I say, “good morning/ good afternoon/ hello, Jenny” followed by a pause.

Jenny then says, “I have Mrs. Mary Smith in today [pause].” Then either, “She’s a new patient to the practice” or “she’s in for her regular six-month/three-month hygiene visit”.

This tells the patient being treated by the dentist, who is listening intently by the way, that the Dental Practice welcomes new patients, or that the practice encourages regular hygiene visits. Again, as mentioned in previous blogs, we are not too concerned with identifying patients as it gives patients a name, and identity, rather than not. The advantages of identifying far outweigh the risk of privacy breaches…just saying.

Jenny then says, depending, whether Mrs. Smith has anything to be really investigated or not….she will usually say “and her teeth and gums are in excellent condition”, or “there a few areas I need you to look at…”

Jenny may even *advertise* some of our services…. “she’s interested in Invisalign/ some porcelain veneers…” or “there are a couple of teeth with large old restorations that I think may require porcelain crowns….”, again planting some seeds or confirming some treatment options that the patient with the dentist may be also having, or may also be considering.

The dentist then usually replies indicating when and whether he will be down to the hygiene room, and when he does go, there is always a pleasant and friendly apology to the patient being treated.

If he is not able to excuse himself immediately, there is opportunity for the doc to inform the patient being treated anything from, “that’s Jenny our hygienist, you’ll be seeing her soon, she is so gentle…” to “oh Mrs. Smith, she has been coming here every six moths for must be about twenty years now….”

I can’t emphasise enough that over all of this is laid an atmosphere of pleasantry, respect for all, and clear and concise communication, so that the interruption to the patient being treated is felt as minimally as possible.

It takes time and practice to develop these sorts of protocols and procedures that subliminally and indirectly send messages of goodwill to your patients. But the time taken is worth it.

And the resulting benefits to everyone far outweigh the inconveniences of learning these processes.

It builds credibility and notoriety that your dental office cares, and is different.

And that’s what it’s all about….



Performing truly World Class Handovers and Notifications is one of the many detailed components of The Ultimate Patient Experience, a simple easy to implement system that I developed that allowed me to build an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb.  If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

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