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September 27th, 2014

REAP the Benefits of a Great Handoff

how to hand a patient off to another team member, productive dentist academyWe all know that in PDA we teach that we can schedule and make financials from the clinical side, but there are still occasions that we need to hand off a patient to another team member.  We also realize that doing the scheduling and financials from the back are still a challenge for some offices and they are a work in progress. So we will need an easy and effective handoff.

Let’s face it, we all want an easy way to hand off our patients to other team members, the problem is we can’t always remember what information we need to convey to each other.  Using the letters “REAP” is a great way to handle the handoffs, especially from the clinical team to the administrative team. The purpose of the handoff is to verbally tell team members what we did, and it allows the patient to hear it again.

When doing a handoff you can use the guide REAP.  The R is for Review.  What this means is to review out loud with the patient and team member what was done today. Reviewing allows you to reiterate what was done, and allows the team member to double check it against what was posted.

The E is for Educate.  Use this to inform patient and team member about what we need to do next.  Educating the patient about what we are scheduling them for next is a great way to include the admin team on what you have scheduled them for, or what needs to be scheduled. By doing this during the handoff it helps eliminate the confusion about what the patient is coming back for.

The A is for Appoint.  Seems simple right?  Of course we need to make their appointment.  Making the next appointment is often overlooked.  So after we use educate, we go on to appoint.  Assume they want to schedule, and find out if they prefer mornings or afternoons and get them scheduled.  If you are scheduling from the back, (which is great), then use this time to let the admin team know you have them scheduled.  This reinforces it for the patient.

P is for Payment or payment arrangements.  We all know how important this step is and we can’t leave it out.  In the handoff this can be about making some financial arrangements or telling team member how patient plans on paying.  The beauty of this is that it is said in front of patient and the team member.  This really helps cut down on the confusion, and it is documented as well.

So a handoff to the admin team from the clinical team might go like this,

“Ms. Kendrah did great today!  We completed the crowns and fillings on the upper left today.  I reminded Kendrah that the next area to focus on is the crowns on the upper right.  We want to get those restored before she starts having pain.  I have her scheduled on the 30th at 9am for those.  Kendrah is also going to do the payment in two parts, here is the financial sheet for that.  Thanks Kendrah it was great seeing you today. Cindy will take great care of you.”

It could also be more vague about treatment if you are having to do this in an area that other patients may overhear.  The steps are the same and it can be complimented with written communication, by using a routing slip.  The important thing is that the handoff keeps the other team member informed.  It could be, “Ms Kendrah was a great patient today and we completed the upper left.  I reminded her about the upper right for next time, and I have her scheduled.  This is the financial arrangements for that appointment.”

Another example is for when scheduling and or financials are not being done chairside.

“Ms Kendrah did great today, we finished up on the crowns and fillings on the upper left.  I talked with her about the need for the treatment on the upper right and she is ready to schedule. Kendrah, you are in great hands. Cindy will take care of you and get you scheduled, and will share with you the payment options for the upper right.  Thanks Cindy, see you next time Kendrah.”

Just remember, it is important to follow the REAP so all the information is exchanged and shared with the patient and team member.  Review, Educate, Appoint, and Payment.  This technique allows you to relay important information to the patient and make your team member look great too!

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