The Secret To The Perfect Handoff – Part 1

We have talked for two weeks about your communication with each other and your communication with your patients.  Now it’s time we tie these two things together.

We use the phrase “handoff” to describe the patient’s movement through the practice, transferring front to back and back to front.  But, it’s really about more than just handing off a patient from one team member to another or from one step in the visit to the next.

Basic understanding would say that the “handoff” is when a patient exits the treatment room and goes up front – that is a handoff that solidifies understanding of the patients next visit and then it is scheduled and secured upfront.

Of course, you being here, you know that that is the most elementary way of doing it and you will leave so much treatment behind if you follow that protocol.

So today we begin with the point of a transfer, handoff, passing from one team member (or step in the experience) to the next.

I call it the Triangle of Trust (a review for most) because it builds trust with patients when communication is handled in a transparent way and above all else it keeps all information consistent; therefore no treatment is lost and patients aren’t left behind.

There are two ‘secrets’ to making the handoff the most effective possible.

This week we focus on the first comprehensive principle to ensuring that patient and team member communication flows effectively and seamlessly throughout the entire process.

You do see the power of this merging together team and patient communication at the same time.  Instead of linear, it is joint communication – that’s why it’s a triangle is (and not a straight line).

The Triangle of Trust forces, in a positive way, this to happen every time with every patient through every part of the process.

First secret…

Understand that there can NEVER be a gap in any relay/handoff of information.  The more triangles you have, the more you are building a conducive selling/educating/influencing environment and the more you are adding in successful communication.

The phone triangle is the screening process and information gathering system followed by the pre-appointment phone call.  This is not done exactly with two team members at the same time but the concept is still the same.  From phone to treatment coordinator involving the patient in the middle.

There is a handoff of information from the phone to the first visit.

Of course, we have the interview process and welcoming of the patient and then creating the triangle with the Clinical Team Member.

The Clinical Team Member then does a handoff to the Doctor by creating the triangle inside of the treatment room.

This is for every type of patient category…



New Patient

Existing Patient

Hygiene Patient

Operative Patient

Post-op Patient

Specialty Screening

And so on

You and your team should be experts at the handoff to the Doctor and creating the perfect orchestration of this that is genuine and authentic which leads to effectively accomplishing the goal.

Then of course we have the triangle back to the clinical team member.  I strongly encourage the Treatment Coordinator coming into the treatment room to receive the clinical yes handoff back to the front versus exiting the patient from the treatment room and then doing the handoff.

The reason is simple and yet significant.  We want to keep them health and clinical focused and that is easier if we keep them where they had the health and clinical discussion when making the transfer and handoff.

Versus, as soon as they get up out of the chair they will immediately to go thinking about everything else in their life and especially about money and leaving.  Not about the point of why they were there today.

And finally, you have the handoff at the conclusion which is more conveying information, tracking results and reporting to the team what actually happened.

You want to create a closed loop.  There can’t be any gaps in a seamless process.

That really is the story of the handoff and triangle of trust.  This is not a one time thing, it is ongoing and if you aren’t handing off effectively you can ruin the entire process.

Please assess your team’s performance on this and especially the consistency and effectiveness of EVERY HANDOFF and Triangle.  Discuss where and how you can improve.

Next week, with Secret #2, we’ll talk dynamics and tactics.  You will love this easy way to improve and you will see results increase immediately.

Do this work first, so you will be ready for what’s next!

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