Creating office harmony to improve the patient experience

There is no question that front and back office team members play critical roles in the practice and the patient experience. A strong relationship between the front and back office is a great value to every practice, yet it is often difficult to cultivate. How staff interacts with the patients is just as important as how staff interacts with each other.

Practice owners should ask themselves if the front and back office have a “we are in this together” attitude or are instead working against each other with a “that’s not my job” mentality. A “yes” answer to the latter can be attributed to the staff’s lack of experience and understanding of one another’s roles. Maybe the front office gets upset with the back office for running behind or because they have to hear questions and complaints from the patients who are waiting. Conversely, the back office may get frustrated that the front office is scheduling too many patients too close together, causing the back office to run behind schedule. Either way, the patient is caught in the middle.

If left unaddressed, this disconnect between the front and back office can lead to a tense “us versus them” environment where resentment continues to build. Some employees may conclude that their colleagues are intentionally creating inconvenience and frustration. Regardless, the patient experience could suffer as patients can detect disharmony in an office and when staff no longer appears caring and friendly.  

Practice owners could approach situations like these in several ways, but the first step is to define each employee’s roles and responsibilities. Setting expectations for the team by establishing their roles is a crucial part of setting the tone and culture in the practice. Understanding roles not only benefits each individual employee but everyone on the team. It is through this mutual understanding that the front and back office staff can begin to work together and sustain a positive working relationship.

Learn how to bridge the gap between the front and back office at CDA Presents The Art and Science of Dentistry in Anaheim. “The Winning Team — Front and Back Office” takes place Saturday, May 6, at The Spot on the exhibit hall floor.

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