Overcoming Front Desk Burnout or Staff Shortage at Your Dental Office


February 14, 2024


Does your Dental Practice struggle with front office exhaustion or staff shortage? Front office exhaustion and staff shortage are real issues that are rarely discussed. They lead to frustration, in addition to causing financial and emotional distress for thousands of dental practices nationwide.

A study by Athenahealth hit this point on the mark, showing that “front office staff reported more negative sentiment toward their workplace” than the back-office staff or management.1 To put things in perspective, we’ll go over the most common factors that cause burnout, along with practical solutions for short-staffed offices.

1 Athenahealth study

What 7 Factors Cause Front Desk Burnout?

1. Patient Intake Forms 

Paper documentation comes with a heavy load for your front desk, like waiting on patients to fill out paperwork, keeping forms organized, running after patients for missing signatures or illegible handwriting, and searching for lost charts. These administrative burdens create tension between staff and patients that will lead to exhaustion and dissatisfaction.

What’s the solution?

Digital innovation resolves these challenges, making forms and patient documents readily available without much effort from your front desk.

By using innovative software that integrates with your PMS, you can skyrocket staff efficiency, reduce administrative burdens, and improve patient satisfaction and retention, simultaneously. Small and large dental practices alike have been cutting down 35% of front desk documentation time by streamlining the check-in process with paperless intake forms that integrate into major Practice Management Systems including Dentrix, Eaglesoft, and Open Dental.

Eliminating the headaches of manual administrative burdens relieves the front desk of the amount of work they have to juggle, improves staff-customer relations, and boosts efficiency.

Your staff can finally say goodbye to

  • Collecting or scrambling through paper forms
  • Manually inserting patient data into the computer
  • Deciphering illegible handwriting
  • Running after patients for missing signatures
  • Searching for lost charts
  • Keeping forms organized
  • Shredding files

Paperless Intake forms have served as a key magnet in improving front office satisfaction and efficiency. The main benefits of paperless forms are:

  • Customizable, branded forms are available in Digital Systems: Registration, consents, HIPAA forms, medical history, and more
  • Patients can remotely complete all online forms, along with capturing:
    1. IDs
    2. Insurance cards
    3. Photos
    4. Medication list
  • Patients e-sign and submit, all before the visit
  • Directly integrates into major PMS systems
  • Slows the spread of viral transmission
  • Reduces waiting room time
  • Decreases staff burnout - no manual labor
  • Creates environmentally friendly practices
  • Cuts down on paper-related expenses
  • Provides convenience for patients

For patients who prefer In-Office Digital Forms, Branded On-Site iPad Apps work wonders for speeding up the intake process.

5 Benefits of In-Office iPad App Intake forms include:

  1. Treatment Plans & Consent Forms can be E-signed Right On the iPad
  2. No more Clipboards
  3. High-resolution Patient Photos can be captured with One Tap
  4. Insurance cards & IDs can be synced with your PMS System
  5. Directly transfers completed forms to the provider’s Practice Management Software

2. Lengthy Insurance Verifications

Hours on the phone verifying insurance eligibility is definitely a contributor to front desk tension. Traditional eligibility verification methods are known for inaccuracies, costly rejections, and frustrated patients. According to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, an average of $496 billion was spent by payers and providers on billing and insurance-related administrative costs in 2019, with 50% of front desk time exhausted on insurance verification of patients.2

It doesn’t have to be that way at your dental office. Technology has advanced to enable insurance verification within 10 seconds or less. That means eligibility reports will be at your fingertips in a flash, saving your office hours each day. What will new insurance verification software bring to your office?

  • Reduce Billing Errors, Claim Delays, and Denials
  • Eligibility Reports in 10 seconds or less
  • Eliminates patient-office tension 
  • 30% reduction in front desk time 
  • 40% decrease in waiting room time
  • Prevents mishaps before they occur
  • Improve Efficiency and Productivity
  • Integrates with Opendental, Eaglesoft, and Dentrix, along with over 180 major insurance carriers
  • Reduce unexpected out-of-pocket payments for patients
  • Access to insurance eligibility reports 24/7 from any location
  • Auto-upload eligibility reports to patient’s charts in your PMS
  • HIPAA Compliant and End-to-end Encryptions

Why fall into the endless loophole of claim denials, lost money, and wasted time, when you deserve better? 

Reference  2 SRS Web Solutions, Inc survey of 2,500 dental practices

3. Appointment Scheduling and Reminders

Are you finding that your front desk is spending hours on the phone trying to balance appointment scheduling, appointment reminders, and all the other daily tasks at once?

What’s the most effective way to lighten their load?

Embracing advanced technology like online scheduling and Automated Appointment Reminders will create happy staff and patients.

Online scheduling serves as an ultimate tool to take the weight off front desk tasks and gives patients the convenience of booking appointments without a single phone call. It’s available 24/7, 365 days a year, from any device and any location. No more tedious phone calls that waste your staff’s time and energy.

Customizable Online scheduling combines the convenience of being able to send appointment reminders and intake forms to patients via SMS/Email. Digital intake forms can be completed remotely, and patients can capture IDs, insurance cards, and any other requested documents from home. Online Scheduling integrates with Dentrix, Eaglesoft, and Open Dental, making it a breeze on your front desk, especially if there’s a staff shortage.

Automated Appointment Reminders, an additional top-most sought-after tool to reduce staff burnout, has proven to be the #1 preferred choice by patients, and guarantees higher show-up rates. Your front desk will no longer need to waste time manually calling patients with appointment reminders.

Automated Appointment Reminders can be customized and scheduled to reach patients via text/email, a week/day/hour prior to the appointment. Patients reply with a confirmation that will be received by the provider instantly. Automated Appointment Reminders simplify the process, while boosting your team’s efficiency and productivity. Eliminate staff exhaustion and improve patient satisfaction with automated appointment reminders.

Breakdown of Online Scheduling & Automated Appointment Reminders

  • Perfect solution for front desk staff shortage
  • No More Tedious Phone Calls
  • Improves Customer Satisfaction
  • Integration with Dentrix, Eaglesoft, and Open Dental
  • Office phone # used for SMS Services
  • Enables Patients to Book Appointments Online 24/7
  • Reduces No-Shows & Boosts Revenue
  • Customizable Appointment Reminders 
  • 2-Way Texting Included
  • Pre-scheduled reminders received by patients via text/email (eg. 7 Days / 1 Day / 1 Hour Prior to Appointment)
  • Intake Forms automatically sent with Reminders
  • Patient Confirms Appointment & Provider Instantly Receives Confirmation Response
  • Fully Secured & HIPAA Compliant

4. Patient Communication

Does your team have to deal with frustrated patients who feel alienated? Or want a better way to connect?

When patients feel upset about not being able to get quick replies to their inquiries or concerns, their frustration will rub off onto your front desk team. Front desk staff typically receive the complaints and suffer from emotional drainage for any defaults in communication. This issue is magnified when there’s a shortage of staff.

How can this be resolved?

2-Way SMS has become the perfect channel to quickly communicate with patients. It’s a lot simpler and easier on staff than being tied to the office phone for hours. We know that the average patient uses their smartphone for texting everyday, so why not meet them where they are, by using their preferred avenue of communication? No phone call needed.

2-Way SMS is specifically designed as a convenient, patient-prefered route of communication, to keep team members and patients in sync about patient inquiries, follow-up information, appointments, patient status, unexpected occurrences, and so much more.

Both staff and patients love the ease of being able to send a quick SMS message to reschedule an appointment, or to let staff know about a cancellation or a delay in reaching the office for their appointment time. Waitlisted patients can be notified of last minute openings, via text, preventing lost revenue.

Instant 2-Way SMS, a fully secured platform, serves as a valuable communication asset to boost staff productivity, patient-provider relations, and improve revenue. It enables patients to get their questions answered quickly, saves staff the burden of having to call and track down patients, and prevents miscommunication.

What are some benefits of 2-Way SMS?

  • Answer Patients’ Questions
  • Appointment Reminders & receive confirmation replies
  • Rescheduling Appointments
  • Request Insurance Card, ID & Documents
  • Billing reminders / Invoices
  • Send and receive attachments
  • Recovery care instructions
  • Important Notifications
  • Send Educational Resources
  • Video informational links
  • Relevant medication info

5. Unqualified Patients Taking up Time

Booking appointments for patients without knowing if you’ll be able to offer treatment, or if you’ll need to refer them out, can be a huge waste of time for your front office and staff. What if there was an easy way to qualify patients before the visit?

Virtual consultations offer cosmetic dentists the convenience of one-on-one communication by directly connecting providers with interested prospects.

Potential clients can request a virtual consultation via the practice’s website, submitting the needed information, like selfies of their teeth, and what the consultation is for. Dentists can customize the available time slots to accommodate their schedule, even outside of work hours. Virtual consults are tailored to meet the needs of growing dental offices.

5 Reasons Patients Prefer Virtual Consults

  • Convenient Way to Find out if their Dental Issues are Fixable
  • Perfect Opportunity to Evaluate the Dentist Before Committing
  • Estimated Cost Can be Given in Advance
  • Eliminates the Need to Sacrifice Work Hours
  • Personal Engagement from the comfort of their own home

5 Reasons Why Cosmetic Dentists Love Virtual Consults

  • Qualify Patients Before They Take up Chair Time
  • Convenience of Connecting with Prospects on Provider’s Own Time
  • Directly Interact with Patients - Breaks Down Communication Gaps
  • Prevent Delayed Decisions by Conveying Information Upfront
  • Affordable & Fully Secured

6. Sick Days and Viral Transmissions

Do last minute staff sick days wreak havoc on your front office? The fear of viral transmissions is real for front desk staff, who are in continuous face-to-face contact with patients. What if there was an avenue to lessen the amount of in-person traffic and accommodate patients from home?

Telehealth’s virtual visits do just that. By providing dental care delivery to patients in the comfort of their own home, these virtual visits have become indispensable, and have enabled dentists to streamline office operations, including patients’ record maintenance, appointment scheduling, patient registration, and management of inquiries.

Patients use Telehealth for a number of visits:

  • Initial Consultations
  • Triage Emergency Visits
  • Pre-visit Screenings 
  • Posts-Op Visits without the Hassle of In-Office Appointments
  • Discuss Treatment Plans with Patients Virtually
  • Live Group Video Interactions with Referrals

Dental practices embracing low-cost telehealth software enjoy many features:

  • Interactive HD video and audio
  • Link provided for communication services
  • Accessible on any device
  • Send online consent forms, packets and reminders to patients via email and text
  • Customer support services
  • Send payment requests to patients via email and text
  • Collect payments remotely and provide online receipts
  • Detailed billing information
  • Secured end-to-end encryption of collection, storage and transmission of data
  • 100% HIPAA compliance

7. Keeping Track of Billing/Payments

Staying on top of overdue payments, collections, and billing can place a heavy burden on your front office. Relieve their load using an organized and accurate accounts receivable tool that enables you to send & collect online payments from patients, and track balances. It keeps your practice alert to payment status, and provides the following:

  • Providers Collect payments immediately 
  • Practices can Text or Email payment links to patients
  • Helps Practices avoid collections or missing payments
  • User-friendly dashboard for tracking balances with a few clicks:
    • Outstanding Balances
    • Pending Payments
    • Payments Received
  • Integrated with Open Dental, Dentrix, and Eaglesoft
  • Faster payment verification process than EMR systems alone


Front office exhaustion and staff shortage in dental practices are more common than ever and lead to high-stress environments. If you’re noticing increased staff fatigue, frustration, and inability to keep up with tasks, you’ll benefit from innovative solutions that ease the emotional strain and workload on your team.

The success of your office depends heavily on the front desk. By making healthy adjustments to office operations, you can eliminate the heavy burden on your team’s shoulders. Streamlining your office with Digital Intake Forms, Online Patient Scheduling, Automated Appointment Reminders, 2-Way SMS, Virtual COnsultations & Telehealth, and Accounts Receivable will save hours of manual labor, and improve staff and patient satisfaction. Learn how mConsent can eliminate staff burnout for your dental office.

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