The Ten Essential Steps You Must Do to Ensure That the Doctor’s Handover to the Dental Assistant Following Treatment is Truly World Class.

How do you define a World Class Handover?

I guess it’s a handover so different from any other handover performed at any other Dental office.


It’s pleasant in delivery, and pleasurable. For the patient.

It’s also memorable. And clear.


In my Dental Office we like to use the following three words regularly to make sure that our Office does not EVER generate confusion in the minds of our guests and our fellow employees.

It is especially important for our clients, patients and customers to know exactly what they need to do so there are indeed no embarrassing surprises in store in the future for them.

Those three words are very simply:


Everything we do in our Dental Office must leave our valued patients with total one hundred percent *CLARITY* as to what exactly the next step involves for them.

As simple as these three words sound, what we find, when we have a confused or befuddled patient, is that we realise that along that patient’s journey through our Dental Office there has been a stage or step where the patient has not been given, and received, clear and precise instruction or information.

Crucial to this clarity is the stage, or step in our Patient Experience Cycle that involves the Patient Handover to the Dental Assistant by the Dentist at the completion of their Dental Treatment appointment.

This important step often suffers because the Dentist can sometimes be in a hurry to depart the treatment room to go see another patient in another room.

Or the Dental Assistant may be in a hurry to tear the room down and set it back up in readiness for its next use.

And both these reasons, though valid, are unacceptable, if we desire to provide our Customers and Patients with a truly World Class Dental Patient Experience.

Because hurried transfers and changeovers are the norm, unfortunately in Dental Offices across the country and across the globe.

I cringe every time I have an agency provided Dental Assistant in my Office because it’s almost pathological, that at the conclusion of my treatment, they are around over my side loudly dumping their mixing instruments and suction tips onto my bracket and noisily clicking off handpieces and triplex syringe tips, while the confused patient struggles with orientation as the Dental Chair brings them from the horizontal to the vertical.


This serial condition of instrument and equipment organisation following treatment IN FRONT OF THE PATIENT is the dental equivalent of having a server scrape all the food plates and gather all the cutlery together ON TOP OF YOUR TABLE while you’re enjoying an important dinner out at some fancy restaurant!

Because that never happens!

At the restaurant, does it?

The server gracefully and quietly removes the plates from your table and stacks them skillfully up one arm in a well rehearsed and efficient manner.

At the Dental Office the process at the completion of treatment needs to be choreographed and rehearsed so that it is as seamless as it possibly can be for the patient.

So at the completion of treatment the Dentist initiates the Dental Chair’s return to the vertical and he rises to push the bracket table and tray to be well away from the Patient as they orientate themselves after having been reclined.

The Dental Assistant, at this point of time is waiting attentively on the patient assisting them with a warm heated towel and with a filled cup for rinsing and tissues if necessary.

Our first and only priority at this point is the patient and their comfort and well being.

Not the instruments.

Not the tear down.

Not the next set up.

And it’s at this point that the Doctor then clearly hands the patient over to the Dental Assistant in readiness for the patient’s transfer from the Treatment Room to the Front Office.

It is important and imperative that at this stage the Dentist informs the Patient, and the Dental Assistant, the following key pieces of information.

It is also imperative that both the Patient and the Dental Assistant truly grasp and understand fully the Dentist’s clear and thorough instructions and explanations.

Here are the five things that the Dentist must tell the patient when he hands over the patient to the Dental Assistant at the completion of treatment.

  1. Exactly what treatment the patient received today. How many fillings, how many surfaces, how deep those fillings were, and if there was any changes to the expected treatment that was scheduled to be done, such as increase in filling sizes due to the location of additional decay, etc.
  2. Exactly what the patient may experience or feel over the next few days following treatment. The Dentist needs to tell the patient of any possible feelings they could expect following treatment. This way, the patient is prepared for possible any and all post-operative feelings and experiences.
  3. Exactly what treatment the Patient will be having at their next visit to the Dental Office.
  4. The time frame or urgency of the remaining treatment required. It is the Dentist’s duty to inform the Patient when exactly he next wants to see the patient.
    The Dentist’s role here is to create urgency for the treatment as opposed to creating a *Lack of Urgency* in the Patient’s mind. Creating urgency assists the Front Office team members in securing the next appointment for the Patient.
  5. Exactly what will happen if the next treatment is not carried out. The Dentist must inform the patient of the consequences if treatment is not carried out. The patient must understand that taking action is imperative for them.

Along with this, the Dentist must ensure that both the patient and the Dental Assistant have a clear understanding of exactly what he has just said.

The Dentist needs to also:

  1. Look the patient in the eye, and thank them sincerely for their time.
  2. Compliment the patient on being such a great patient for you today. Everybody loves recognition.
  3. Farewell the patient with sincere wishes of best wishes and good health.
  4. Recognise or re-recognise any significant event coming up for the patient that will occur before their next visit. This may be something that the patient has discussed with the Dentist already. Or it may be some information the patient has shared with a team member that has been acquired by the Dentist via Secret Service Systems [information passed to the Dentist with the specific purpose of creating a *WOW* factor for the patient].
  5. Look to create any Above and Beyond Experiences for the patient. If the patient has mentioned something personal, the Dentist may have an opportunity to provide an article or small gift that may be appropriate in that situation.

These last five points are extremely important and crucial in differentiating your Dental Office as being truly different from every other Dental Office around because no other Office around is taking the time to treat every patient as a friend, or as a person and not just as a number or an item on a conveyor belt.

Because most dentists don’t do this!

Most dentists bury their head into their computer or worse still are headed out the treatment room door before the patient has the chance to know which way is truly up.

If the dentist is still at the computer, most will add a cursory glance at the patient and then turn back to their monitor.

Yes really!

These ten simple common courtesies extended each time to every Patient at each and every visit go a long way to setting your Dental Office apart as being truly World Class.

 Performing truly World Class Handovers 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.


Email me:

Did you like this blog article? If you did then hit the share buttons below and share it with your friends and colleagues. Share it via email, Facebook and twitter!!