Guest post by Dr. Lindsay Goss, DMD, MPH
As a general dentist I work with specialists every day in order to provide exceptional comprehensive patient care. I used to think that when I referred a patient to a dental specialist that they would take over from there with the patient’s care. They would diagnose the patient, treat the patient and the patient would return to my office only when they have improvement. But what I soon realized is that I would wonder what was happening? When is the patient returning to my office? What was their diagnosis? What is the prognosis? Once I referred the patient out of my office, I felt that I could no longer be in control of my patient care. However, with a few changes to our office protocol on how we make a referral, I remain a part of my patient’s continuation of care with the specialist.
Here is my office protocol:
1. Determine the patient needs a referral to a specialist.
2. Define what specialist can provide a Diagnosis, Prognosis and Treatment recommendations (DPT).
a. What type of specialist should the patient see?
Does gender of the doctor or the location matter?
Does insurance coverage make a difference for this patient?
3. Offer patient a pre-scheduled appointment with the specialist prior to leaving your office.
a. This step is important because it commits the patient to the care they need.
b. Our patient coordinator gives insurance information to the referring office.
4. Write the pre-scheduled appointment day/time on the referral slip.
a. Make a copy of the referral slip for your patient records.
b. Inform patient their records will be sent over and ready for their consult appt.
5. Compliment the specialist and inform the patient that we will look forward to hearing the results from the consult appointment.
a. Ask your specialist for a pre-treatment letter which states the DPT.
b. I always review the DPT from the specialist prior to treatment with the patient.
I would encourage any New Dentist to get to know their specialists and develop a clear relationship on how you want to manage patient care. Call and invite your specialists to meet over lunch! When I work with a specialist I am inviting the specialist into a relationship of trust I have built with my patients. The patient knows that I am going to follow their case and I expect the patient to follow through with the recommended treatment/care. For these reasons it is important to make working with specialists an easy and routine process.
Dr. Lindsay Goss is an esteemed member of The New Dentist Magazine Advisory Board. She graduated from the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health and AT Still School of Health Management. Dr. Goss also completed an Advanced Education in General Dentistry program through the Lutheran Medical Center before she worked with four different types of practice settings, and prior to starting up a solo “space share” in Chandler, AZ.