Front Office Task Flow Guidelines
A busy dental practice can create a hectic front office environment. As a result, the front office team must carry out a wide range of tasks with an astounding number of interruptions throughout their day. A number of those tasks are integral to ensuring the smooth operation of your dental practice. Creating a consistent task flow helps the front office team remain focused on the critical tasks, even with interruptions. A clear guideline, while not designed to replace a comprehensive job description, will create a productive workflow. Larger dental teams can divide the tasks listed among front office team members.
5-10 Minutes Before Morning Huddle
- Place a sign on your counter for patients to see: “We are in a morning meeting focused on providing the best care possible to each of our patients today. Please have a seat and we will be with you shortly.”
- Check the answering machine/service, email, and patient management portals for changes in the schedule and make any necessary modifications.
- Be prepared to report scheduling opportunities that are available in upcoming days. This will allow the entire team an opportunity to help fill those openings.
Attend the Morning Huddle
- Give input regarding scheduling opportunities, patient classification that may alter prescheduling in the clinic, any overdue accounts, progress towards production and new patient goals, and identify patients to ask for referrals.
Immediately After Morning Huddle
- Greet patients who are waiting in the reception area warmly by name. Verify/update their billing address, insurance benefit plan, and preferred method of contact.
- Alert provider(s) their patient has arrived.
- Return calls/messages.
- If there are any openings in the schedule, contact appropriate persons on the quick-fill or immediate appointment list. Filling day-of openings on the schedule is a top priority for the entire front office team.
Complete Within 2-3 Hours of Morning Huddle
- Verify all appointments two days in advance with your patients or their guardians. It is best to speak directly with your patients in order to lessen any confusion regarding appointment times and length. If you use a confirmation service, confirm appointments not positively accepted through your service.
- Review the next day’s scheduled appointments for pertinent information. Look for financial arrangements, insurance benefit plan information, estimated co-pays, proposed treatment, and pre-medication alerts.
- Send any necessary office correspondence.
- Verify posted treatment rendered as the day progresses. Ideally, clinical team members complete post-treatment at the end of each appointment. The front desk team verifies the chart notes match the posted treatment.
- Open, sort, and distribute mail.
- Post checks received in the mail.
- Update accounts accordingly – EFTs, authorized credit card transactions, etc.
- Send statements for balances due after insurance payments are received.
- Print, if necessary, schedules for tomorrow.
- Prepare and send any necessary new patient information packets/forms. Check online portals for completed forms.
- Forward any necessary records per patients’ and/or specialists’ requests.
Close of Day
- Complete posting of today’s treatments/payments and review for accuracy.
- If the office batches insurance claims for a single submission, submit insurance claims with all necessary attachments.
- Create deposit and process the day-end reports. Provide your Doctor with a copy and file a copy for front office reference.
- Request initials from Doctors and hygienists for day sheets, if on a commission pay model based on production.
- Run server/computer back-up, if not cloud-based and automatic.
All Day, as Necessary
- Greet patients warmly and verify/update billing address, insurance benefit plan, and preferred method of contact.
- Enter necessary changes regarding the above information immediately.
- Answer telephones with a smile and undivided attention; ideally by the third ring.
- Create productive schedules based on daily production goals.
- Estimate available insurance benefits for diagnosed treatment.
- Enroll patients in ideal dentistry by offering financial and scheduling options. Base your recommendations on the goals of the practice and the needs of the patient.
- Verify diagnosed treatment on the patient’s treatment planning module. Clinical staff should enter new treatment plans at the time of diagnosis.
- Collect payments and co-payments from patients.
- Create walk-out statements for patients.
- Call-in/submit Rx’s for patients from a private area to maintain HIPAA compliance.
- Call specialists, as necessary, for your patients.
- Maintain a short-notice opportunity list for restorative and hygiene treatment.
- Schedule previously diagnosed treatment from the patient’s treatment plan.
- Arrange for coverage when the Doctor or hygienist is out of the office. Submit secondary insurance claims.
- Process EOBs and requests for additional information (assistants to provide assistance when necessary).
- Process pre-determinations as needed.
- Communicate scheduling needs and changes with the clinical team.
- Pre-schedule most patients for recare. Those who habitually no-show or cancel should not be pre-scheduled – they should be scheduled for same-day appointments only.
- Commit to effective verbal skills regarding systems implementation.
- Review outstanding insurance claims and call on all claims over 30 days old.
- Call patients with overdue accounts and follow through on necessary collection activity.
- Maintain/order front office supplies.
- Call/contact patients about outstanding treatment plans.
- Manage the recare system.
- Balance petty cash.
- Run month-end reports.
- Give a copy to the Doctor and maintain a copy.
- Run month-end closing procedures. Review credit accounts and refund patient over-payments. Submit refunds to the Doctor for review prior to issuing.
- Contact outstanding hygiene recare patients.