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What to look for in a dental receptionist for your practice

Dental receptionists are the first people your patients will encounter when they contact your practice. Having one or more on your team can make a huge difference in your administrative workload and the quality of care you provide your patients.

But talented, professional, and experienced dental receptionists aren’t only expensive — they’re also difficult to find and hire.

So what should you look for in a dental receptionist, and what is the true cost of hiring one for your dental practice? In this article, we’ll outline the realities of employing dental receptionists and explain a more cost-effective option for bringing one aboard.

What is a dental receptionist? 

A dental receptionist is like a front-line worker for your dental practice. They answer patient inquiries via email, phone, or in person. When a patient enters your practice, your dental receptionist is usually the first person they’ll interact with.

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Dental receptionists also contact patients to schedule or reschedule dental appointments. In short, they make sure your practice runs smoothly and manage your entire team’s calendar.

Interested to find out how you can save over 50% of overhead costs for your dental practice with a virtual dental receptionist? Book a call with our team, and we’ll show you how it works.

What does a dental receptionist do? 

The main duty of a dental receptionist is to work at the reception, as the name implies. They’re responsible for greeting patients who enter your practice and ensuring patients sitting in the waiting room have everything they need. They also answer the phone and forward the call to the appropriate team member if necessary.

However, dental receptionists do much more than greet your patients. They also need to ensure your dental patients’ appointments are scheduled appropriately. For instance, your dental receptionist can make sure there are no scheduling conflicts for you or anyone else on your team. They also need to make the appropriate changes when patients call to reschedule or cancel an appointment.

When patients need to fill out forms, your dental receptionist can assist them in any way they need. Receptionists also update patient dental records and prepare dental charts for upcoming appointments. 

As a result, you and your staff can focus on providing high-quality care to your patients without having to worry about:

  • Outdated files
  • Forgotten dental charts
  • Other administrative roadblocks

Additionally, dental receptionists can follow up with patients to remind them of upcoming appointments. At the end of appointments, your receptionist can also take payment for dental services and provide receipts to your patients.

Whenever patients use insurance to cover some of their dental services, your dental receptionist will be the person in charge of communicating with insurance providers. If patients need to make co-payments, your receptionist can also take this payment and file the remaining claim with the right insurance provider.

Finally, a dental receptionist can perform any other administrative duties required of you or your staff. Their goal should be to make sure your dental practice runs efficiently.

Qualities to look for when hiring a dental receptionist

Dental receptionists don’t just diminish your workload — they also represent your dental practice in front of all patients. That’s why it’s important to vet anyone you hire in this role carefully.

Here are six qualities to look for when hiring a dental receptionist.

1. Experience with dental terminology 

While you can hire anyone who has experience with administrative roles or with receptionist duties, it helps to find someone who also has experience with dental terminology.

A dental receptionist who’s familiar with your industry can answer questions instead of relying on you or your staff when patients ask for details. They’ll also understand what each dental service entails.

It’s always possible to train someone and help them become familiar with dental terminology. However, providing this additional training will require time and effort that could be spent serving your patients.

Examples of common dental terminology

2. HIPAA training

HIPAA compliance isn’t unique to the dental industry — it’s a reality across every medical profession. And everyone who gets even partial access to patient files should be well-versed in HIPAA compliance — including the receptionist who’ll be keeping their files organized and up to date.

If you find a dental receptionist with experience in other medical fields, this person will likely already have HIPAA training. However, if you hire someone who has only worked in other industries, you’ll need to provide HIPAA training for them.

A dental receptionist with HIPAA training will keep your patients’ information private and secure and won’t require extra training on your part. On the other hand, hiring a dental receptionist with no knowledge about HIPAA compliance can put you and your entire practice at risk of non-compliance — even if your new receptionist has the best intentions.

Hipaa compliance for a doctors or dentists office
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3. Technical skills and computer skills

When you craft your dental receptionist job description, make sure to include details about the job's technical requirements.

Look for someone familiar with the software and tools you use. Alternatively, you can find someone who has similar skills and who feels comfortable learning new software quickly.

A good dental receptionist should be able to work efficiently and learn how to use your office’s tools and equipment with ease. If you have a modern system in your practice, it’s important to look for someone who’s either familiar with it or flexible enough to adapt to it.

4. Friendliness and helpfulness

Technical skills are important, but social skills are even more crucial for dental receptionists. Remember that your receptionist will be the face of your practice for any new and existing patients. That’s why you should look for someone friendly, patient, and helpful, even during moments of frustration. 

Someone patient and friendly will help your dental practice acquire a positive image. And helpfulness keeps patients coming back, especially if you have many competitors.

On the other hand, a dental receptionist who’s unhelpful or always in a sour mood can push new patients away and even cause long-time patients to leave. 

It’s important to remember that many people dislike going to the dentist — others may even fear it. Your dental receptionist should have a positive attitude that puts people at ease when checking in for their appointment. 

5. Reliability 

One of the most important traits for a dental receptionist is reliability. Ideally, you should hire someone who won’t leave you hanging or abandon your patients without warning.

Of course, even the most reliable dental receptionist will have sick days, and there’s nothing you can do to eliminate that completely. 

However, your dental receptionist should be someone you’re able to rely on for the majority of the time. 

If you hire someone who’s constantly late or takes long lunches, your patients won’t be in good hands — and you or your staff will need to pick up the pace. That’s the opposite of what you want when you hire administrative help!

6. Excellent organizational skills

Finally, look for someone who has excellent organizational skills. Working as a receptionist in a dental practice requires more than the ability to respond to patients. The ideal candidate will also need to manage a huge number of files, calendars, notes, and much more. 

The best outcome would be finding someone with the skills to manage a growing practice. When you hire a dental receptionist, you’ll free up your staff’s time, which means you have the bandwidth to grow. 

But growth comes with growing pains, especially on the administrative side. Can your dental receptionist find proactive ways to manage patient files in more efficient ways? Can they keep important documents from falling through the cracks?

The best candidate to become your dental receptionist won’t only take reception and administrative tasks off your plate — they’ll be able to manage and organize everything with much more skill than you could.

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The hidden costs of hiring an in-person dental receptionist 

To calculate the cost of hiring an in-person dental receptionist, you need to account for more than just the obvious expenses.

First, let’s consider the most obvious cost — the salary. Receptionists in the dental field have varying rates, but the median wage is $18 an hour in the US.

However, that’s just the median wage. This means you could pay more or less. But you may need to pay more to attract talented workers with all the qualities you’re looking for.

Payroll also includes more than the hourly wage you pay your dental receptionist. Employers are responsible for employment taxes and benefits. Your responsibility depends on your exact location and the size of your practice. 

Next, you need to consider overhead costs. If you don’t have a dedicated reception yet, you’ll need to invest in the following:

  • A desk, chair, and other office supplies
  • A computer and phone dedicated to reception duties
  • Office space for the reception area

You’ll also have recurring overhead to maintain this equipment. If you have to upgrade to a bigger location to expand the reception area, you also need to account for increased rent.

Many dental professionals also forget to consider the costs of recruitment. Unless you already have the perfect candidate in mind, recruiting a talented dental receptionist can be a lengthy, expensive process.

First, you’ll need to create a job description and put up listings. Many job boards require employers to pay to publish a job listing, while others are free with limited features.

You’ll also need to run background checks on your short-listed candidates. Plus, you’ll need to book time for interviews. Every interview you run is at least an hour during which you can’t see patients!

Finally, you’ll need to train your new dental receptionist. Most candidates — even the most skilled and talented ones — will require time to get up to speed with everything in your practice. If you hire someone who isn’t well-versed in dental jargon or HIPAA compliance, you’ll need to dedicate additional time to training them.

Consider also that you’ll likely have to pay a candidate more if they require less training.

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Benefits of hiring a virtual dental receptionist 

If the true cost of hiring someone seems overwhelming, you’ll be happy to know that you no longer have to hire an in-person dental receptionist at all.

Virtual dental receptionists can provide you with all the help you need without the additional overhead and training costs. Here’s why you should consider a virtual dental receptionist instead of hiring someone in person.

1. Affordable salary

Virtual dental receptionists are outsourced from other countries. For example, all Hello Rache medical receptionists live in the Philippines.

As a result, you can hire a talented dental receptionist at an affordable salary while still providing a fair living wage. That’s because the cost of living is lower in other countries like the Philippines.

For instance, Hello Rache virtual assistants cost you only $9.50 per hour for a highly trained and professional dental receptionist. That’s nearly half the average you’d pay for their salary alone if you hired them in person. Compare this rate to the minimum wage in the Philippines — PHP 540 ($9.92) per day — and you can see you are also supporting an increased standard of living.

Hiring a virtual dental receptionist means you don’t have to choose between paying someone a good wage and cutting costs for your practice. You get to do both at the same time.

2. Lessen the workload for in-house staff

With a virtual dental receptionist, you get all the benefits of extra administrative support without the same costs. 

You can let your in-house staff focus on revenue-generating tasks instead of getting bogged down by busy work. As a result, you can not only take on more patients, but you may also find the time to take a visionary role as the owner of your practice.

Plus, there’s a good chance your virtual dental receptionist will be more talented at reception duties than you or your dental staff are. Because it’s their specialty, everyone gets to stay in their zone of expertise.

visual explanation of the zone of genius
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3. No overhead for virtual dental staff

Virtual dental receptionists don’t take up any office space. As long as you have a device that’s connected to the Internet, you can communicate with your dental receptionist from anywhere. 

As a result, you can get all the support you’d get from an in-office dental receptionist without paying for supplies and equipment. You also don’t need the extra space required by a traditional reception area. 

4. Cuts out the cost of training and onboarding

Virtual dental receptionists at Hello Rache already have HIPAA compliance training. They’re also experienced in the dental field, which means you can drastically cut down the cost of training and onboarding. 

So, you can reinvest all the time and money you’ll save on onboarding and training back into your practice. For instance, you can free up time to take on more patients or invest money to improve your office and upgrade your dental equipment. 

You can have a talented dental receptionist who’s more qualified than someone you may find locally. There’s no need to invest weeks (if not months) in training them before they achieve your standards of care — even if you have the highest standards.

5. Provide exceptional customer care and service for your patients

Virtual dental receptionists are closely monitored and evaluated during their entire shifts. As a result, they provide high-quality care for all of your patients.

Did you know that higher-quality care can help you reduce patient churn and improve retention rates? For instance, 78% of consumers will continue doing business with companies with excellent customer service even after companies make a mistake.

Not only will you rest easy knowing your patients are in the best hands, but you won’t have to waste time monitoring your virtual dental receptionist yourself. Your virtual dental receptionist will be there to support you, not to weigh you down.

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Find your ideal virtual dental receptionist

Hiring a talented dental receptionist is vital for any dental practice. That’s especially true when you want to avoid bottlenecking your dental staff with an administrative workload that keeps you away from your patients. 

Did you know that Hello Rache’s qualified virtual assistants can provide your dental patients with improved quality of service while saving your practice more than 50%? Book a call with us to find your future virtual dental receptionist.