In 2024, the upstand reception desk in front of waiting patients is far from the ideal place to be handing over patients to discuss their treatment and their impending treatment.

And it goes without saying then that this is also not the best place to be discussing scheduling, and treatment fees.

The best design that dentists should implement for these important discussions in their practices is a private room, where the dental practice treatment co-ordinator and the patient can sit eye to eye, facing each other, across a table or desk. This would be very similar to how two people would sit while having a coffee.

In this room, the dentist or dental assistant who brings the patient out from the treatment room, must be able to stand comfortably on the patient’s side of the table.

When we don’t have the ability to create the best scene in our practice for a handover, we create a rod for our back that causes everything else to be “catch up” or “make up”.

In our dental practice, which we ran for twenty eight years, and with our coaching clients who we have been working with for over twelve years, we encourage the dental assistant that worked with the dentist to bring their patient out and make the handover, and have the key points of the handover written by them [the dental assistant] on a ROUTING SLIP which is then handed to the practice treatment co-ordinator.

The practice treatment co-ordinator needs to be giving one hundred percent attention to the dental assistant and what they are saying about what the patient’s next steps must be.

The practice treatment co-ordinator must not be writing notes.

This is because there is a visual component of the handover that the practice treatment co-ordinator needs to be doing, which they cannot do if they are writing notes.

What is written on the ROUTING SLIP is what the dentist has just said to the patient in the treatment room. This information needs to be complete. There cannot be any information missing from the routing slip and from the dental assistant’s communication.

And there cannot be any confusion created during this handover process.

The ROUTING SLIP is also a “written note” from the appointment and part of the appointment documentation. It can be scanned and saved into the appointment notes in the computer.

The handover notes written by the dental assistant on the ROUTING SLIP in the treatment room and handed to the practice treatment co-ordinator is done so because those notes cannot be argued by the patient as “never happening”.

Everything we do in the handover is done to increase the acceptance of the next appointment and the treatment, and to reduce the number of cancellations.

Leaving out any parts of the system results in less appointments being made, and less made appointments being kept.

And that’s a lose-lose situation for the patient, because their dental condition only gets worse if it goes untreated beyond the time recommended by the dentist.

When the departing patient fails to reschedule, or fails to keep their next scheduled appointment, that’s a customer service fail.

And that’s not very responsible of the dental practice or team to allow that to happen.

All of this communication happens best when a private office is used rather than at an antiquated upstand in a crowded dental reception area.

Upstands were only effective back in the day when patients left after having their teeth pulled out and the dental team could hide behind the upstand and avoid being spat on by numb mouths full of blood and gauze.

Thankfully, those days are gone.

There is no need to keep using an upstand in dental furniture.

It’s past its use by date….

If you have a desk with an upstand, then it’s time to get out the chainsaw and say goodbye to it….


Dr. David Moffet BDS FPFA CSP is a certified CX Experience coach. David works with his wife Jayne Bandy to help SME businesses improve their Customer Service Systems to create memorable World Class experiences for their valued clients and customers. Click here to find out how David and Jayne can help your business