There is a critical member in every successful implant team. While the clinical skills of the surgeon and restorative dentist are absolutely necessary, it is another member of the team who keeps cases functioning at an optimal level – the implant treatment coordinator (ITC).
The ITC acts as the liaison between the surgical and restorative offices. This individual fosters a team approach so that both practices can function well together. Dentists who wish to place more implants need an ITC to do what they and the other members of the team clearly don’t have time to do themselves. Restorative dentists also rely heavily on the ITC to make inter-office communication less complicated.
One key to providing superior treatment for implant patients is clear, consistent communication. A communication breakdown between the two offices can undermine patient confidence in the procedure and raise doubts about your professionalism. The ITC has the ability to increase implant treatment acceptance by drastically reducing potential miscommunication.
Dentists, staff and patients all benefit from a team approach between surgical and restorative offices. This type of collaboration can keep the referral process uncomplicated and ultimately more productive. The ITC keeps both practices involved and informed about implant recommendations, patient consultations and treatment status. When patients are thinking about having implants placed, it is important that they hear consistent information. If the surgeon and the restorative dentist offer conflicting information, there is less chance the case will be accepted.
Think of the ITC as the implant consultant for both offices. This position enables both the surgical and restorative practices to ensure greater case acceptance through patient education, relationship-building and enhanced case presentation.
Responsibilities of the ITC
1. Handle all communication
Most of the communication between the restorative and surgical practices should be handled by the ITC. Responsibilities include tracking all case presentation efforts, presenting patient financing options, documenting case acceptance, scheduling appointments, conducting follow-up phone calls and monitoring the treatment programme.
Having a point person for implants ensures the ball does not get dropped due to miscommunication. A knowledgeable ITC encourages co-operation between practices, which helps to boost patient acceptance of recommended treatment.
2. Control the schedule
An ITC scheduling all appointments for potential implant patients is able to create a dependable point-of-contact between the two practices, build value for the implant treatment, increase patient confidence and eliminates miscommunication between team members.
3. Educate patients
The ITC can assist restorative dentists by educating and motivating more patients to accept implant treatment, providing brochures, posters and collateral materials. When patients are better informed, case presentation becomes easier and increases the likelihood of patients saying yes to implant treatment.
When the dentist and the ITC work together as a team, patients are better educated about implant benefits. The ITC is a well-trained professional, not a dental practitioner. Some dentists find it confusing that some patients are as interested in the ITC’s opinion of treatment as their own. The fact is many patients are looking for direction and reassurance from someone who is more ‘like them’. The dentist may be the acknowledged clinical expert, but for many patients the ITC seems like a more accessible person.
The ITC serves many vital functions for both the surgical and restorative practices. This individual not only provides superior customer service but also eliminates miscommunication and potential bottlenecks. An ITC allows both surgeons and restorative dentists to spend less time dealing with administrative work and more time chairside providing patient care, which is exactly where they are supposed to be.
Qualified dental nurses, with their clinical expertise and role within the team that patients often relate to more easily than that of their dentist, are perfectly placed to take a step up in the order of things and, following appropriate training, take on the role of the ITC.