Exploring Choices in the Dental Assisting Profession: Dental Coordinator (Part 5 of 7)


To read the first three parts of this series, see the links at the end of this article.

There are many different opportunities in dental practice for dental assistants who are ready to make the transition from the day-to-day position to the chairside. As dental assistants, you are familiar with many areas of dentistry and understand the mission and philosophy of dental practices.

One option for those who want a bit of variety in their career is the position of dental coordinator. As the link between the patient and the dental team, the dental coordinator is vital to the financial health of the practice. The coordinator works closely with the dental team to ensure that patients understand the treatment, the risks, benefits and treatment options, as well as why the treatment is needed. The Treatment Coordinator closes or assists in closing treatment plans and takes responsibility for working with the patient base to ensure there are no unfinished treatments.

But my practice does not have a treatment coordinator. . .

In a dental practice without a treatment coordinator, which is often the case in small dental practices, a dental provider diagnoses and educates patients on the treatment needed and encourages them to accept. Financial collection is often entrusted to reception staff. The chain often breaks on receipt when processing fees increase. This is because the front desk is not trained to handle patient objections and the various obstacles that can arise when accepting cases.

Some dental offices have the chief of staff replace the treatment coordinator, which in a small office may work for a while. But as the practice grows, the office manager’s time to manage the practice decreases with increasing treatment coordination. It really depends on each practice and whether or not you can maximize productivity with someone working part-time on patient case acceptance. A practice that has a patient base of 1,500 and an average of 50 new patients per month is ready for a full-time treatment coordinator.

The importance of this position cannot be stressed enough because a treatment can only be produced if it is marketed to patients. Case acceptance is usually the most neglected area of ​​practice and considered an afterthought by being combined with other positions. From a commercial point of view, it is very simple – a practice can only generate as much production as the quantity marketed and accepted by patients. The dental practice can have a much healthier patient base and far fewer financial worries if a designated team member is responsible for patient case acceptance and compliance.

What qualities are needed?

This dental care coordinator position is not for everyone and requires several qualities in the ideal candidate. These include:

Positive attitude. Attitude is everything these days. A positive attitude can move you forward when you believe in what you are marketing. Patients realize this.

Enthusiasm. The way to turn your work into play and have the motivation to take the necessary steps to succeed is to have enthusiasm for your work. The Treatment Coordinator position allows you to combine your love of dentistry with your passion for helping patients.

Knowledge of dentistry. As a dental assistant, you have knowledge of most dental procedures and can effectively communicate the need for treatment adherence to patients. You are able to break down complex dental terms into simple terms for patients to understand.

Professionalism. You will need excellent communication skills, self-confidence, a professional appearance and a particular ability to persuade patients to accept treatment without being pushy or overbearing. Many people judge a book by its cover and will judge someone trying to market an expensive treatment plan, so look the part!

Organisational skills. You must be autonomous, systematic and have a good follow-up. Most dental assistants have these qualities. We have to do it to stay on top of things!

Knowledge of dental insurance. This knowledge helps patients use and understand their benefits and maximize treatment coordination. Dental insurance is a mystery to many patients, especially when it comes to maximizing their benefits for the year.

Ability to think quickly and concisely. You have to think on the fly and with little preparation. This is a skill in itself, as not everyone is capable of acting at will when needed. With practice and over time, it will come automatically.

Multitasking pushed to the limit. It’s a skill dental assistants embrace! Multitasking is an important soft skill that is often overlooked, and as a dental care coordinator, you’ll be multi-tasking and doing them well.

What are the responsibilities?

The dental coordinator’s priority is to help the dental team get patients to understand and accept the recommended treatment, and then to coordinate the treatment plan so that it works for both the patient and the practice. dental. Responsibilities often include, but are not limited to:

• Conduct interviews to understand the patient’s oral health history, concerns and goals.
• Explain the treatment plan, address patient concerns and answer all patient questions.
• Help the patient prioritize treatment and establish a planning and payment plan.
• Build trust and understand the patient’s goals for overall oral health.
• Conduct financial consultations with all new patients and with existing patients when new treatment plans are presented.
• Manage and maintain payment options and policies for patients to maintain the financial integrity of the practice.
• Understand office policy on working with dental insurance plans and be prepared to educate patients about their dental benefits.

Financial responsibilities may include:

• Dental insurance billing, posting of payments and estimating claims.
• Supervise and monitor dental insurance plan accounts receivable and regularly follow up on claims to ensure timely payment.
• Communicate with all external and third-party financing companies offered to patients and educate patients on available external financing options.
• Track patient accounts receivable and outstanding balances to ensure timely payment.
• Participate in dental practice collection protocol for all outstanding balances.
• Introduce new patients to the dental practice by reviewing medical history, explaining provider examination and describing any other practice features that should be highlighted.
• Conduct treatment consultations with all new patients and with existing patients when new treatment plans are presented.

The dental treatment coordinator serves as an advocate and educator in creating treatment plans for dental care. The role is critical in securing treatment plans and coordinating financial resources, insurance requirements and billing practices. In most dental practices, this role assists the office manager, who is the direct supervisor, with production goals and with greeting patients, scheduling appointments, answering phones, and other responsibilities. Office.

There are no educational requirements to become a dental coordinator, but most employers prefer candidates with several years of experience in dental practices. You can also learn more about how a dental practice works by completing a coordinator certificate program. Treatment coordination courses focus on communication with patients, terminology, accounting and marketing.

The best dental treatment coordinators are reliable problem solvers who can handle insurance claims and work with patients to find affordable treatment options. It’s a great option for those of us who love dental assisting but need something new!


Academic options
Administrative Options
Clinical options

Natalie Kaweckyj, BA, LDA, CDA, RF, CDPMA, COA, COMSA, CPFDA, CRFDA, MADAA, is a senior moderator of the Dental Peeps Network and a past president of the ADAA.


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