REAP the Benefits of a Great Handoff

By Angela Davis-Sullivan

We all know that we can schedule and perform financial tasks from the clinical side, but there are still occasions that we need to handoff a patient to another team member. We also realize that the tasks of scheduling and making financial arrangements from the back are still a challenge for some offices. In those cases the office could benefit by developing a system for an easy and effective handoff of the patient.

Let’s face it, we all want an easy way to handoff our patients to other team members, the problem is we can’t always remember what information we need to convey to each other. Using the letters REAP, is a great way to handle the handoffs, especially from the clinical team to the administrative team. The purpose of the handoff is to verbally tell team members what we did, and it allows the patient to hear it again. When doing a handoff you can use the guide REAP.

The R is for Review. What this means is to review out loud with the patient and team member what was done today. Reviewing allows you to reiterate what was done and allows the team member to double check it against what was posted.

The E is for Educate. Use this to inform patient and team member about what we need to do next. Educating the patient about what their upcoming appointments will involve. This is a great way to include the administrative team on what has been scheduled or what needs to be scheduled. By doing this during the handoff it helps to eliminate the confusion about the patient’s reason for return.

The A is for- appoint. Seems simple right? Of course we make their appointment. Making the next appointment is often over looked. So after we use educate, we go on to appoint. Assume they want to schedule, and find out if they prefer mornings or afternoons and get them scheduled. If you are scheduling from the back (which is great!) then use this time to let the administrative team know you have them scheduled. This reinforces it for the patient.

P is for Payment or Payment Arrangements. We all know how important this step is and we can’t leave it out. In the handoff this can be about making financial arrangements or telling team member how the patient plans to pay. The beauty of this is that it is said in front of patient and the team member. This really helps to cut down on the confusion and it is documented as well.

So a handoff to the admin team from the clinical team could sound like this:

“Ms. Kendrah did great today! We completed the crowns and fillings on the upper left today. I reminded Kendrah that the next area to focus on is the crowns on the upper right. We want to get those restored before she starts having pain. I have her scheduled on the 30th at 9am for those. Kendrah is also going to make payments in two parts; here is the financial sheet for that. Thanks Kendrah- it was great seeing you today. Cindy will take great care of you!”

You could be less specific about treatment if you are speaking in an area in which other patients are present. The steps are the same and it can be complemented with written communication by using a routing slip. The important thing is that the handoff keeps the other team member informed. It could be, “Ms Kendrah was a great patient today and we completed the upper left. I reminded her about the upper right for next time, and I have her scheduled. This is the financial arrangement for that appointment.”

Another example is for when scheduling and or financials are not being done chair side.

“Ms Kendrah did great today – we finished the crowns and fillings on the upper left. I talked with her about the need for the treatment on the upper right and she is ready to schedule. Kendrah – you are in great hands. Cindy will take care of you, get you scheduled and share with you the payment options for the upper right. Thanks Cindy, see you next time Kendrah!”

Just remember it is important to follow the REAP, so all the information is exchanged and shared with the patient and team member. Review, Educate, Appoint, and Payment. This technique allows you to relay important information to the patient and make your team member look great too!


Angela Davis-Sullivan has been in dentistry for more than 25 years. She has held almost every position in the dental office eventually becoming office manager and new patiaent coordinator for over 10 years. She joined Productive Dentist Academy in 2006 as a specialty coach working with and mentoring office managers around the country. In 2008 she became a head coach with PDA. She works with doctors and teams to obtain the results they deserve. Here specialties are streamlining systems, solidifying the team, and teaching patient communication skills. Angela can be reached by email: Angela@ProductiveDentist.com or by phone at 813-690-7531.

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