Scripting for Goals

By Pat Rosenzweig


In our offices, we frequently set not just production and collection goals, but also sub-goals that make it easier for us to reach our larger plans. While it’s great to set these goals, they’re of little use if we don’t provide staff with the tools to achieve them. Here are some examples of goals, scripts, and outcomes.

A very demanding patient calls to schedule his six month recall appointment.

  • YOUR GOAL: Get the patient scheduled as soon as possible at a time that makes him happy, but doesn’t disrupt your schedule.

    ROADBLOCKS AND SOLUTION: If the patient wants specific dates (or a specific day) and you do not have what he wants available, explain those are currently booked, but you do keep a cancellation list. Then ask why he’s looking for those specific days. You may be able to offer him other days that work as well once you know his needs. Get an appointment scheduled, even if it’s a bit far down the road, then remind him you will put him on your ASAP list should someone cancel on the specific days he initially requested. Also ask for the best number to reach him when something does come open, and remind him it could be fairly short notice.


A new patient asks if you take her insurance.

  • YOUR GOAL: Get the patient to come in for an initial appointment so you can wow her.

    ROADBLOCKS AND SOLUTION: Even before she tells you which insurance it is, set the stage by saying you are providers for most major insurances. If she gives you a name you’ve never heard of, let her know you don’t recognize it as one with which you’re a provider, but you’re happy to bill all insurances and would be happy to check on her benefits. Then ask if she’d like to schedule an appointment. If she’s hesitant, tell her you’ll check her insurance and get back to her well before the appointment.


A current patient calls with an issue about her bill.

  • YOUR GOAL: Reach a resolution that satisfies all her questions and makes her comfortable enough to return to the practice for future treatment.

    ROADBLOCKS AND SOLUTION: First, remain pleasant even though patient may be upset. Look at the ledger and ascertain whether you completely understand the issue and read all previous notes. If you do not fully understand the situation, ask the patient if you could put her on hold for a moment and get someone who can. If you must, tell her someone will call her back, then be sure it happens.

    If you do understand the issue, always try to see the problem from her perspective. Remember the best resolution is one that’s fair to your practice and doesn’t disturb your schedule or cause a large adjustment, but also keeps the patient wanting to return to your practice. If an adjustment seems appropriate, discuss it with business or office manager before proceeding. With a clear understanding of the issue and a discussion with the business manager, you should be able to reach a reasonable solution with the patient.


A patient's mother calls with an orthodontic question regarding past or future treatement.

  •  YOUR GOAL: Fully educate the mother on what was done or will be done so that she feels satisfied with the explanation comfortable and happy with your office.

    ROADBLOCKS AND SOLUTION: This parent never comes to appointments, so you have a great deal to explain.

    Unless you are very well versed in orthodontic treatment and notes are very clear, explain to mom getting the very best answer for her will require transferring her to the treatment coordinator or lead assistant. If they are occupied, ask her if you could have them call her back, and be sure it gets done. Remember it’s very important to give the correct information. If you’re not sure, pass the call along.


A patient's very busy mother calls to schedule a pediatric restoration appointment.

  • YOUR GOAL: Find an appointment that satisfies her needs without destroying your schedule.

    ROADBLOCKS AND SOLUTION: First be sure you understand her scheduling needs so you can find her the correct appointment. Then, offer her two appointments that might work in her schedule and also allow the proper amount of time to complete the restorations. Be very clear with mom how much time is needed and where the doctor asks you place such appointments in the schedule. Explain to her the doctor likes to do these appointments in the morning (or whenever applicable in your office) when the child is rested and most receptive to treatment. Find a time in your schedule, possibly on a day school is out, that works for mom without compromising the integrity of the schedule.


Another doctor/patient calls wanting a call back from the doctor.

  • YOUR GOAL: Make the doctor/patient feel that their call is important to your office.

    ROADBLOCKS AND SOLUTIONS: No matter how busy a doctor is, calls need to be returned promptly. Let them know approximately when they can expect a call back, then be absolutely sure either doctor makes the call or you call back explaining the hold up. Just leaving a note on your doctor’s desk is not sufficient. Be sure they get a call back and are satisfied with the promptness with which this took place.


Someone calls for a reference check on a previous employee.

  • YOUR GOAL: When we get this kind of call, it’s important to not put the office in any type of legal jeopardy.

    ROADBLOCKS AND SOLUTIONS: This was a particularly unsatisfactory employee and you do not feel right lying about her performance. Always send this call to the office manager who will only answer with dates of employment as should be your office policy.


As you can see from these examples, preparing scripts for common situations can help staff to achieve the goals the doctor wants and in the way he/she wants them handled. By being prepared with simple scripts to paraphrase, we can avoid escalating minor everyday questions into major issues.

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