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From Overwhelmed to Empowered: Unlocking Your Admin's Time Potential with Jeanette Ford

In this episode, we have Jeanette Ford, an onboarding manager at NexHealth, sharing her expertise on reclaiming time in dental offices. From her extensive dental experience to her passion for transforming patients' lives, Jeanette reveals the game-changing potential of NexHealth's platform. Get ready to unlock the secrets of efficient practice management with Jeanette's insights.

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Alec Goldman (00:00.974): Welcome to How I Grew My Practice, a podcast by NexHealth. I'm your host Alec. In this episode, we have Jeanette Ford, onboarding manager here at NexHealth. She's trained thousands of dentists and office managers, a former office manager herself at a small practice, a treatment planning manager at a DSO. She's here today to talk about how to get time back.
Jeanette Ford (00:06.565): Hmm?
Alec Goldman (00:30.755): In an office. Jeanette, welcome to the show. How are you doing?
Jeanette Ford (00:34.403): Good. Thanks Alec. How are you?
Alec Goldman (00:36.738): Good, thank you. How was that? Was that, that was okay, right? Okay. So I know that, you know, I met you in Draper, Utah at the office, and I was told by tons of folks that I had to get your perspective on just your, you know, a lot of just learning about your experience in being in the dental world for so long. You've made your way over to NexHealth.
Jeanette Ford (00:59.641): Mm-hmm.
Alec Goldman (01:03.174): So if you don't mind, just as a start, can you share a little bit about yourself, who you are, and how did you end up at NexHealth?
Jeanette Ford (01:11.279): Sure. So originally I started in dentistry quite a while ago, 1980s. And I started in the back office. So I was chair side, worked my way through the dental office, learned all about the different positions, ended up at the front desk, insurance, all the way up to office manager in, you know, smaller locations. And then I had the opportunity to kind of jump into the DSO environment and large multi-practice environment in Manhattan where I got a lot of exposure to treatment planning, high-end cosmetic dentistry, and I just fell in love with the patient experience. Relocation, DSOs weren't really big when I relocated, and so I kind of changed a few careers but I ultimately always love to come back to dentistry because it's not just I need a filling or I need a cleaning. There's so much involved in it and I love seeing how dentistry really transforms people's lives. And when I found out about NexHealth and the platform and what can be done, I thought about my journey through dentistry and how much of a benefit NexHealth would have been. I absolutely wanted to come and really, you know, learn about the system and work here. And I was just so impressed with everything that I ultimately I landed here and love onboarding new offices, getting them, you know, familiar with the platform and getting them to realize what a benefit it would be to use it.
Alec Goldman (02:39.106): That's so cool. It's really such an awesome journey. And I could probably say this on behalf of so many different customers that you've that you've onboarded. You know, it's a huge thanks, both your knowledge on NexHealth and your knowledge from the office. So going back to your time at the office, and even, you know, using the, the knowledge that there goes the experience of onboarding tons of different practices, can you give us a little bit about what it was like for you and what you see still at practices before they're using next up? What are like the deep pain points that you see that made you so excited to ultimately even join NexHealth?
Jeanette Ford (03:15.895): I think one of the biggest things I noticed, and I experienced this as well at a local DSO several years ago, was there's so many platforms out there. And this platform does a little bit of this, this platform does a little bit of that. We had about four different platforms, plus our electronic record system for patient data and clinical information, and it was just cumbersome to overcome. So one of the biggest attractions for me, right off the bat without even learning about the individual features, is that NexHealth really strives to be a one source, kind of all-encompassing platform that really deals with a lot of the pieces that you used to have to get multiple third parties, join them together to really create that experience. And so I feel that's my number, that was my number one reason for really liking the platform. I feel like that's still a struggle. I talk with office managers all the time, even dentists, and they do say, well, I have you know, this company for forms and I have this company for, you know, phones and texting and then I have another situation where I have to do, you know, use this company and it's very cumbersome to them. They would like to have, you know, they know they have a platform like Dentrix or Open Dental, say, for example, and now they want to maybe, you know, just have one more place where they can have their patient communications located and not have to try to juggle four different platforms. So that is definitely a pain point I still see and time. Dental is, yeah, you could do routine dentistry. That's great. But dentistry is also a lot of unplanned situations. So there is a lot of days where they're just feeling understaffed. And they can't dedicate their time to that patient experience. And having a system that automates a lot of things that really gives them back the gift of time is a huge win. Office managers have.I mean, they've yelled, oh my gosh, I can't believe this. Are you kidding me? We can do this? They get super excited because they know now, this means that I get this amount of time back, whether it's daily, weekly, monthly, and that all that time, if you ask the majority of office managers in front desk, what do they wanna do? Do they wanna sit in an office and make phone calls so they can get people in for hygiene appointments or do they wanna spend their time with their patients? Talking to their patients, building relationships, letting patients know they care, they're not just a number, and that their treatment really is beneficial and that that's what a patient wants. They want that connection with an office. They don't want to be shuffled through like cattle on a farm. That is not always possible when you're juggling so many different tasks and so many different if a chair side calls in, office manager gets in, puts a pair of gloves on, helps out in the back. So you can see where time gets really taken up. If we could give them back that gift of time by automating things, they just get super excited about it. And I mean, I get super excited getting them super excited about it. So it's really a great addition to any office to be able to streamline and then give that gift back to the patients.
Alec Goldman (06:23.434): Really cool. So the first pain point that you brought up was just having so many different systems to support the patient experience. Can you just kind of double click on that for a second and explain why having so many systems as an office manager creates for perhaps a more friction full patient experience?
Jeanette Ford (06:44.983): Aside from some of the obvious reasons, which would be I have to make sure I'm logged in, and maybe I'm not logged in, so I have to log into multiple systems. One of the things is that there's never a consistent message across platforms. NexHealth, of course, is designed as a specific way of operating. Your other platforms will have that as well. Each platform then has to be customized or maybe set up in a different way, which is a time-consuming area where some support for platforms is great, others support for platforms not so much, you know, maybe it's staffing or maybe it's just the technology is not as advanced. It creates struggle. If I have an issue and it's going to downstream affect the patient experience, I want to have control and support and the ability to get things done at the tip of my fingers. And having to spread that across multiple platforms, you know. Say, oh my gosh, I got a call in. I know how this is going to go. You know, it's going to take me 24 to 36 hours to get a response. I don't want to have that. I want to really have a platform that's solid from top to bottom where I can really just go one place, get everything done, know I'm going to get great customer support, get things handled on a timely basis. And I really feel that NexHealth takes the patient's experience and places as a top priority. It's not just a business that business relationship between an office and us. It is actually a relationship that is specifically developed to increase patient experience. And that is, I have to say, in my experience, that is definitely not something that I feel resonates with a lot of other systems out there.
Alec Goldman (08:33.866): Yeah, and I think it's a really great point, specifically not even just the system and having a single location for everything was your point, the support, and folks like yourself on the ground. The second pain point that you brought up was time and figuring out ways to automate parts of the patient experience. I wanna kind of dive into this, but when you say automate different tasks, what task are you referring to for folks who may not have used NexHealth in the past?
Jeanette Ford (09:00.367): Okay, so for me, there's two parts of our platform, actually there's more, but two big parts of our platform are going to be like our weightless feature as well as our custom re-care feature. I know in my experience, hygiene is the driver for production. So if patients aren't coming in and getting diagnosed with necessary treatment, then doctors are not busy, offices don't do dentistry. So you can see the downstream effect of that when I get a cancellation at four o'clock in the afternoon, and I know I need to fill a slot at 11 o'clock tomorrow morning, my first instinct years ago would be to pull up my list of unscheduled hygiene and have someone sit in an office and make phone call after phone call. Lots of times, I mean, I would average probably five minutes of phone call, because if they get an answering machine, they leave a message. Maybe they have a short, brief conversation. And honestly, after 50 phone calls, you might get someone to take this slot, you might not. But the ability to have a system that I can create that list of people that are due, I don't have to worry about insurance, and I can send out a blast to multiple patients at the same time, and by a click of the button, a patient can just make an appointment, and then I have an appointment in my schedule, and I did not pick up the phone once. It's not only a time giver back to the office, but it's also a stress relief. It is probably one of the least favorite jobs for front desk to do. It's, you mean you can bribe them with lunch, you can wrap it up and tie it with a bow. It's still, it is what it is. It's sitting at the phone and making repeated phone calls. And it doesn't work as fast. If I reach 75 patients in, I don't know, two and a half minutes and somebody takes that appointment, it could be the 75th patient. I'll never reach 75 patients in a day sitting at a phone. I can, that gift of time for me is huge.
Jeanette Ford (10:57.331): And offices, there are multiple offices that hire a hygiene coordinator specifically to do that job, to keep their hygiene filled. Automating that is great. And then our custom re-cares, another huge piece that assists hygiene. Years ago, we would send out postcards and then follow up with phone calls. NexHealth's custom re-care system just does the work for the office. Again, alleviating hours and hours depending on the size of the office and the size of their hygiene program, from that manual task of reaching out to patients and hoping to get an answer or a response and an appointment filled to go through their hygiene list. So two huge features that really take hours every week for an office to completely stay on top of. So those are my two favorite ones.
Alec Goldman (11:51.822): Both, I guess for those who don't know, we actually just launched a new waitlist feature or a new version of our waitlist feature today and is worth checking out. So I know in addition, I guess wait lists and recalls are certainly both really important in regards to getting patients back on the calendar. You mentioned that it is kind of the lifeblood of production and diagnosis. So can you just kind of describe a little bit about what that means?
Jeanette Ford (12:21.243): Sure. So in my experience, the patients come in, they come in for their routine checkups. It's at the time where they would get their routine examination and x-rays. That is a driver for doctors to approach anywhere from necessary treatment due to caries or any type of broken down tooth structure, etc., all the way up to cosmetics. I mean, you're getting patients through the door, which is the first step. And the easiest way to get them through the door is to get them in for their hygiene. And it really is the basic foundation for good oral dentistry anyway, because a good periodontal base is really what an office needs to go ahead and do cosmetic dentistry and things like that. So I think the estimate is somewhere around... maybe it's 20% of income, but it's about 80% to drive production coming off of a hygiene team. That's a huge piece. If you're emptying your chairs in hygiene with no patients coming in, the office will take a hit. And so having the ability to constantly have access to staying on top of filling seats, making sure your hygiene program is filled really does drive a lot of patients into the office so that the doctor can speak to them about cosmetics, implants, or even just necessary dental care to remove decay and get them in a good position.
Alec Goldman (13:55.47): That makes sense. So I guess what I'm hearing is one, making sure that you have a recall system in place to ensure that cleanings are taking place. That then brings in patients, even if it means for an appointment, that may not make the doctor the most amount of money, but it does create a relationship of trust, making sure that they understand the patient's health, which then gives them an opportunity to share a different procedure, share an opportunity to upsell something that may actually bring more dollars to the bottom.
Jeanette Ford (14:27.191): Essentially, yes. And I mean, that trust foundation is super huge that you just mentioned. People really do rely on their hygienist to give them accurate and clear information and that relationship continues. People request the same hygienist over and over. It really is a great way to build that trust and then add the addition to the trust with the doctor and you've got a lifelong patient.
Alec Goldman (14:53.95): Yeah. So I mean, from a hygienist perspective, I mean, from a sorry, from a front office manager perspective, and the team, I mean, you only have so much finite time, you want to expand the calendar, but it's extremely hard because the job sounds a whole lot, just like you're juggling constant things, it's really being in a reactive motion. So figuring out ways to automate it kind of puts you in the driver's seat of having time to think proactively and provide patient care that I think a lot of front desks, teams would be really proud of.
Jeanette Ford (14:55.417): Absolutely.
Alec Goldman (15:24.47): In addition to wait lists and recall, obviously there's lots of the patient experience that have tons of repetitive tasks. What are additional tasks that when you're speaking with tons of front office managers across the country that they're really excited to kind of offload and put it on a system to, you know, automate a lot of those tasks?
Jeanette Ford (15:48.923): I would say that one of the biggest ones is forms, integrated forms. I would say an average about 20 minutes per new patient, spending, you know, handing them, traditionally handing them forms to have them fill them out, asking them to come in 15, 20 minutes early, then having to manually enter in patient demographics, medical histories, dental insurance information, things like that. With integrated forms that, you know, will write back into a system and auto-populate a patient's information, maybe check off their conditions, medications, and pop medical alerts in a system, and then have digital copies of every other type of form, consents for treatment or just post-op instructions, all those things, and have them be able to be signed and uploaded and saved permanently inside the EHR is just such a huge time saver. If I get 10 new patients a week, I'm going to be able to do that. That's 200 minutes. So I would like to take those 200 minutes. And then when the patient walks through the door, I would rather get to know my patient than just take forms from them and then sit behind a computer screen while they wait, not talking to anyone in the waiting room because it's already gonna be done for the most part. So I think that is a huge benefit. Our forms, from a more detailed standpoint, one of the most exciting things that offices love about our forms is the ability to capture photos of the front and back of an insurance card. I mean, it's the simple things that make an office happy when they know that patients get confused over insurance. Now they have this crystal clear photo of all of the detailed information on their insurance. It's just a small little piece that may not sound like it's a big deal that makes office staff as well as the office managers very happy. It's a lot of...
Alec Goldman (17:40.598): Jean, it's so cool to see how excited you get by some of these features because you lived the role of the person that you're training. What are some of the things that you learned as your time in an office that you think have made you so successful at NexHealth?
Jeanette Ford (17:48.033): Mm-hmm. I really feel like it was the pleasure of being on the other side. I know that for me, customer service is not just getting what I paid for. For me, being treated and exceeding my expectations and taking a step above and beyond that I would never even dream of, to me that's customer service. And I feel that all the time I spent with patients really drove home. What a huge difference it means. I mean, this is their health, you know? Dental health is related to your whole physical health. And having an experience where you can trust and you feel like they really do have your best dental health in mind and they're going to take care of you, that doesn't come just from saying, hi, here's some paperwork. Would you like to fill that out? That comes from spending time. It comes from building relationships. It comes from being able to exceed expectations. And if I don't have the time to do that, I can't. So it's not that people don't want to do it. It's just that people aren't afforded the time. And so throughout all of my dental, I have absolutely loved taking a patient from step one through maybe it's a huge treatment. Maybe it's just getting them through a dental appointment because they're dental phobic. I absolutely love the journey every patient has taken. And I feel like I can empathize. And we...we talk about patient scenarios all the time on the phone with office managers, and we laugh because I can totally empathize and relate with them. And then we come up with solutions. Well, this is what NexHealth can do for you. This is going to relieve that stress, and you'll be able to spend more time with patients like that. And they just get super excited because they know. They get it. They understand that the most important thing to a patient is to come in, feel like they're taking care of, and that the office really cares. And that is what I feel like that I learned in my experience that I can help deliver and help those office managers and staff understand that they can get that with NexHealth.
Alec Goldman (20:05.622): That's really cool and a great lesson. Also, even just hearing it, I think what people may not recognize, obviously when we say NexHealth gets you back time, but what we're actually saying is that that time is being given to the individual who could then provide better care, right? And that care creates trust, it creates loyalty, it creates relationships. So just something to, I guess even just hearing you speak about it is something I'm realizing a little bit more now.
Jeanette Ford (20:23.514): Absolutely.
Alec Goldman (20:35.038): We are at the 20 minute mark. I do want to make sure that you have your last thought here on, what does it mean to create more time? Obviously, we've gone through unifying systems. We've gone through automating different tasks. What else would you add as a final thought to perhaps the tons of office managers who might be listening in to our show today?
Jeanette Ford (20:58.767): Since I have, I guess my career has spanned it over since the late 1980s. So starting from a paper standpoint and getting introduced to technology, don't be afraid. Technology is, nothing's ever going to be 100% perfect. Your manual processes, you're going to make human errors. Technology, yeah, from time to time you might have a technical issue here and there, but trust. I feel that really placing that trust in the platform and reaching for let automation take over just because that instant relief knowing I don't have to make all those phone calls. I don't have to reach out to patients because they're you know I have to make confirmations or I have to email personally these forms for a patient to fill out. By letting yourself go and letting yourself really try to go into automation and letting the letting a system like NexHealth assist you. It's just such a relief. I mean, I can just imagine myself sitting in an office and that, like we say, that gift of time, it is a gift because now I can use it where I know it's going to have the most impact. So I'm getting back time from doing drone work and being able to share that, whether it's training my staff, spending time in an operatory, getting on the phone and reaching out to patients. I just, I have so many opportunities to just really connect more and more.
Jeanette Ford (22:28.119): And so I really feel, take the leap of faith, trust it. It's just a life changer. It really is. It's just such a, if it was 30 years ago, I would have totally been on board then too.
Alec Goldman (22:44.878): It's really cool that you've taken your experience. And again, I've said this before, but we're very lucky at NexHealth to have you. I know our customers are extremely lucky to have you and your expertise, both from knowing the system and knowing the offices so well. And thank you so much for joining me for the 23 minutes that we spent together.
Jeanette Ford (23:03.947): Oh, this is great. I could do this for six hours. So I it's a fantastic platform. I'm so lucky to be here. I just think it's a great vision and it's it's going to change a lot of things.
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Welcome to How I Grew My Practice, a podcast by NexHealth, where we dive into the world of dental practice management and explore strategies for success. In this episode, we have a special guest, Jeanette Ford, the onboarding manager at NexHealth. With her extensive background in dentistry, having trained thousands of dentists and office managers, Jeanette brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. From her early days as a chairside assistant to her role as an office manager and treatment planning manager at a DSO, she has witnessed the inner workings of dental practices firsthand. 

Jeanette will share valuable insights on a topic that resonates with every busy practice staff: how to get time back. Join us as we uncover her journey in the dental industry and discover the transformative power of NexHealth's platform in optimizing practice efficiency. From streamlining systems to automating tasks, these strategies can significantly improve productivity and allow dental professionals to focus on patient care.

Consolidating Platforms

One of the major pain points for dental practices is dealing with multiple platforms for different tasks. Jeanette highlights the challenge of managing various systems for patient communication, forms, phones, and more. This fragmentation leads to inefficiency and a lack of consistency. 

Jeanette praises NexHealth for its comprehensive approach, providing a single platform that integrates multiple functionalities. "NexHealth really strives to be a one source, kind of all-encompassing platform that really deals with a lot of the pieces that you used to have to get multiple third parties to join them together to really create that experience," says Jeanette. By consolidating systems, practices can save time and improve the patient experience by having everything in one place.

Automating Patient Communications

Time is a precious resource in dental practices, and automating patient communications can be a game-changer. Jeanette emphasizes the importance of automating tasks such as appointment remindersrecalls, and waitlist management

"It's sitting at the phone and making repeated phone calls. And it doesn't work as fast. If I reach 75 patients in two and a half minutes and somebody takes that appointment, it could be the 75th patient. I'll never reach 75 patients in a day sitting at a phone," says Jeanette. With NexHealth's features like recall and waitlists, practices can send automated messages to patients, reducing the need for manual phone calls and follow-ups. This automation not only saves time but also improves patient engagement and keeps the schedule filled.

Digital Forms

Another time-consuming aspect of dental practices is paperwork and patient forms. Jeanette mentions the traditional process of handing out paper forms, manually entering data, and managing physical copies. Digital forms offered by NexHealth enable digital form completion, auto-population of patient information, the ability to sign and upload documents securely, and a reliable sync to the health record system. By digitizing and streamlining the form process, practices can save an average of 20 minutes per new patient, allowing staff to focus on other critical tasks.


Jeanette Ford's insights provide dental practices with valuable strategies to save time and streamline their operations. By consolidating platforms, automating patient communications, implementing integrated forms, and enhancing the efficiency of hygiene programs, practices can optimize their workflows, reduce manual tasks, and focus on providing exceptional patient care. 

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