Date ArticleType
8/26/2014 Insights

The Team Huddle

The Team Huddle
by Cindy Ishimoto

For years, the consulting world has encouraged practices to ensure that the people in your business office are highly skilled in a variety of systems, fabulous communicators, technologically savvy, and flexible enough to change on a moment’s notice. Who you have on the business team and the systems you have to support them really does bring meaning to the saying “it’s what’s up front that counts”.

Committing to ownership of the service and business systems is ultimately about ensuring the integrity of those systems, improving their efficiency and effectiveness and above all decreasing the stress and increasing the happiness factor for the entire team.

Good communication is the foundation of every system, and evaluating and improving this system has positive impact on the rest of the practice. Morning huddles are the place to begin positive communications each and every day and should be led by the business team.

A well organized and well-run morning meeting will help to decrease the stress level of the practice. You will know what is planned for the day, where to anticipate challenges and understand what is expected of each team member to help achieve a successful day. The purpose of this meeting is to achieve open lines of communications between the administrative and clinical team, preparing for the exceptions of the day. It will help you to serve your patients at the very highest level.

I have found that with a good morning huddle, a practice can increase productivity by about 10%. A huddle will organize the day, the paperwork and the patient service needs, improve tomorrow’s and next week’s schedule, improve collections and improve patient retention and treatment plan movement.

A good huddle begins by having all patient records (paper or computerized) ready, reviewed and any needed information organized for use, with current schedules printed for each team member. Following an agenda is mandatory and helps to keep the meeting focused. The huddle should take approximately 10-15 minutes, depending on the number of patients being seen for the day.

The receptionist/business assistant begins the meeting with review of statistics that the practice agrees are important to share daily: (i.e. production from the previous day, comparison to your goals, and the same statistics for the current day).

Next I recommend you discuss any voids (openings) in the schedule: asking for suggestions for patients who might be available to fill the void or suggestions for advancing the treatment of patients already in the schedule.

The next agenda item would be to share the next available (long appointment) primary procedure time on the schedule and the next available hygiene opening. Doing so allows the rest of the team to assist the business team in filling those openings.

Another item to include on the agenda would be to ask the clinical team where they would like their emergencies added in for that day. The business team will of course honor those times and if they have more calls than planned, everything will be done to accommodate the additional emergencies without dramatically affecting the schedule.

Next review the new patients in the schedule, pronounce their names, share with the team who it was that referred the patient to the practice, their reason for coming to your practice and any questions or concerns the patient shared with the business team.

Finally, I recommend the business team share any concerns over patients in the schedule who will need to be seen by them prior to treatment to take care of their financial needs.

The facilitator now turns the meeting over to the doctor, hygienist and the clinical team to discuss the clinical and management needs for their patients.

The entire team should now provide information from their chart review including things like: patients and family members that are past due for hygiene visits, patients who need necessary radiographs and patients that have any incomplete treatment. Plan who will discuss all of these chart-audit findings with the patients, provide education, take intra-oral images etc. This chart audit is important in continually following up on patient care needs. Morning huddle should include these things on top of reviewing what services will be provided that day.

Finally, it is important to always end the morning huddle in a positive way. Some offices will end with a thought for the day, a quote or a joke. I have several practices that call it their “share a smile for the day” time and someone shares something that went well with a patient the day before, or a compliment received from a patient etc. This will bring closure to the meeting and begin your day on a positive note.

When we communicate, we build bridges. We make the connections that enable ideas to flourish and actions to occur. Healthy connections begin with clarity, and last only as long as we continue to invest in them. Morning huddle is an investment in communicating effectively where everyone wins: the patients, the team and the practice. Have a huddle in your practice every day. Your patient service and your internal communications will improve!

Cindy Ishimoto 300dpi 2013   

Cindy Ishimoto has over thirty years of experience in the dental industry, initially as an assistant and business auxiliary, then progressing to a management position, and now as a dental consultant and speaker acknowledged by Dentistry Today as one of the leaders in dental consulting from 2006 through 2014. Her knowledge of all facets of dentistry, people skills, motivation and communication are reflected in her ability to teach and train. Cindy's love of people and dentistry enable her to share her enthusiasm to build successful, people-oriented businesses. Cindy can be reached at 
808-375-7344 or online at