22 Mar 2024  •  Blog, Practice Management  •  5min read

How a Treatment Co-ordinator can benefit a practice

Regional Support Manager, Chris Nicholson, outlines how introducing a Treatment Co-ordinator (TCO) can help increase treatment uptake and benefit the practice.

Treatment Co-ordinators have been around for a while now and more practices are seeing the value of introducing them. Not only do they help increase the uptake of treatment plans, which is great for the practice’s finances, but they also offer a career path for staff members who want variety or progression in their careers.

How TCOs benefit the dentist

To state the obvious, dentists are skilled at, and often prefer, hands on dentistry. They spend five years as an undergraduate training to become dentists and after qualifying, often choose to continue to develop their skills with post-graduate training. So, it makes sense to let them get on with what they’re good at and not tie them up with things that can be done by other members of the team.

TCOs benefit dentists by freeing them up to get on with dentistry. Once a patient has been examined and their treatment needs and wants established and explained they can be handed over to the TCO. The TCO can then take over and explain next steps and answer questions or address any concerns the patient may have.

It is more cost efficient to have the dentist delivering treatment than explaining payment options, which is one way a TCO benefits the practice.

How TCOs benefit the patient

As well as making best use of surgery time, a TCO can help reassure patients who may be uncertain about a treatment plan. Often, a patient can feel reluctant to ask the dentist questions as they don’t want to take up their valuable time. They can feel more confident with a TCO to voice any fears or concerns they may have as they may feel less intimidated by them. Not everyone is comfortable speaking to a busy dentist.

TCOs can take the time to talk a patient through all their options in a relaxed setting. As well as outlining timescales and potential aftereffects of a treatment plan they can also discuss payment options such as patient finance and plan membership. Often TCOs have worked as dental nurses before moving into the role so they can speak from genuine first-hand experience, so they’re well placed to dispel any doubts a patient may have.

They can also help with patients new to the surgery. Before the patient sees the dentist for the first time, the TCO can schedule an appointment to gather some information about the patient, acquaint them with the way the practice works and answer any questions they may have. This offers a soft introduction to the practice and can make things more comfortable for the patient before they see the dentist.

How TCOs help the practice team

Sometimes a patient needs time to think about things or consult with someone, such as their partner, before agreeing to a treatment plan. This is especially true if it’s an expensive one. Which is where a TCO really can add value to the practice.

A TCO often has responsibility for setting up follow-up schedules. Just because a patient says they need some time to think about things it doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t go ahead. A request for time to think about things can mean just that. Which is why it’s important to follow up in those types of cases.

Patients may well decide that they would like to go ahead after some thought, but we all know how everyday life can get in the way of even the best of intentions. By arranging a follow up call things are made easier for the patient. Also, if the patient still has any unanswered questions, the TCO can handle them during the call.

By having the TCO take responsibility for following up on appointments rather than leaving it to front of house colleagues, it allows for continuity of the relationship. No matter how good a handover may be, it’s never the same as having the original person continue the conversation. It also means the TCO’s colleagues are free to get on with their main job of handling incoming phone calls and emails.

Having a TCO is also a way of retaining good staff. It’s a great role for a dental nurse who wants to step away from or reduce their clinical hours. Dental nurses often make excellent TCOs as they understand the treatments on offer and are used to talking to patients. To help your TCO get the most out of their role there is an NVQ they can study. This will arm them with the theoretical knowledge they may need and is complementary to their on-the-job experience. Study for the qualification can also be combined successfully with working in the practice.

Investing in a TCO could give greater returns than just financial ones. And at a time when recruiting and retaining good staff is challenging, it’s a great way of keeping hold of them.


Get all blogs delivered to your inbox

By subscribing to our blog, you agree to receiving our monthly blog update and newsletter. You can unsubscribe at any time. The security of your personal data is very important to us and we will never sell your data to other companies. You can read more about how we protect your information and your rights by reading our privacy notice.