In the ever-evolving landscape of dentistry, the role of the dental office manager has experienced significant growth and transformation over the years. Once seen as simply a receptionist function, often staffed by converted dental assistants, has evolved into a strategic position overseeing the growth of the business.

In the video above, Heather Colicchio, founder and president of the American Association of Dental Office Management (AADOM), shares her remarkable journey of creating AADOM and how software solutions like Weave empowers office managers to excel in their responsibilities and contribute to the success of dental practices.

The Origin of the American Association of Dental Office Managers (AADOM)

Heather Colicchio, not originally from the dental industry, found herself entering the world of dentistry through a friend’s call for help. The friend, (a dentist eager to start her own practice), felt overwhelmed by the business aspects of dentistry. Heather realized there was a significant lack of resources and support for dental office managers and practice administrators, the individuals responsible for running the business side of dental practices.

The realization that there wasn’t a dedicated association for helping dental office managers grow in business skills shocked Heather. Surely this can’t be true. After all, there is an association for hermit crab enthusiasts, (which funny enough, Heather had joined when she needed to sell a hermit crab). Heather jokes, “how is it there’s an association for people who love hermit crabs and not for people running a dental practice?”

Heather’s entrepreneurial spirit and drive to fill this void in the dental community led her to establish AADOM, the world’s largest professional organization for dental office managers and practice administrators. In the short span of 20 years, AADOM has grown to over 15,000 members, providing needed education and community for one of the most important roles within a dental office. This marked the beginning of a transformative journey that has revolutionized the office manager’s role in dentistry.

The Dental Office Manager’s Growing Responsibilities

Traditionally, dental office managers were often relegated to administrative tasks and perceived as simply handling phone calls and managing paperwork. However, with the inception of AADOM and the evolution of the dental industry, the office manager role has elevated from a job to a full-fledged career.

Dental office managers are vital decision-makers within their practices. They are responsible for establishing protocols, managing office staff, handling finances, and ensuring a seamless patient experience. According to the ADA, successful office managers excel in three key levels: systems-based management, people-based management, and strategic thinking.

Systems-Based Management 

Office managers design, improve, and implement systems while providing training and support to the dental team. This level of expertise ensures that the practice operates efficiently and effectively.

People-Based Management

Dental office managers focus on building a strong team culture, aligning with the practice’s core values, and facilitating effective communication among team members. This level of management fosters a positive and productive work environment.

Strategic Thinking

With well-established systems and a cohesive team in place, dental office managers have the time and capacity to explore new opportunities, research software solutions, marketing plans, and key performance metrics to drive practice growth. This level of management contributes to the long-term success of the practice.

Continued Learning and Growth

To improve in those three levels of management skills, office managers rely on continuous learning and professional development. AADOM, under Heather Colicchio’s leadership, offers a wealth of resources, education, and networking opportunities for dental office managers to enhance their skills and knowledge.

AADOM’s career track and designation program acknowledges the growing importance of the office manager role in dentistry and provides recognition for their expertise. Through AADOM’s platform, dental office managers can connect with peers, share experiences, and gain insights into best practices.

The Role of Software Solutions in Empowering Office Managers

As dental practices evolve, software solutions play a crucial role in empowering office managers to accomplish more and succeed in their responsibilities. One such solution is Weave, a comprehensive platform designed to streamline communication and enhance the patient experience, all while reducing the time office managers spend on tedious tasks.

Appointment Scheduling and Management: Office managers are over keeping the chairs full. Weave simplifies the appointment scheduling process by efficiently managing appointments, sending automated reminders to patients, and reducing the risk of no-shows.

Insurance Verification: Verifying dental insurance is very time-consuming. Weave’s software solutions facilitate efficient insurance verification, reducing the time for insurance coordinators and office managers spent on the phone and on hold with insurance companies.

Staff Supervision and Communication: Effective communication is essential for a successful dental practice. Weave’s platform offers secure messaging, enabling office managers to communicate with their teams effortlessly – even when away from the office – promoting a cohesive work environment.

Financial Process Optimization: Weave’s software solutions can streamline financial processes, helping dental office managers manage billing, payments, and collections more efficiently. By improving the financial workflow, office managers can contribute significantly to the practice’s profitability and success.

Patient Experience Enhancement: Weave’s platform also provides valuable patient feedback, allowing office managers to gain insights into patient experiences and improve the quality of care provided. Satisfied patients are more likely to become loyal and contribute to the practice’s growth.

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The growth of the office manager role in dentistry, fueled by organizations like AADOM, has transformed the position from a mere job to a thriving career. Dental office managers now play a critical role in practice success, supported by powerful software solutions like Weave. These solutions streamline operations, enhance patient experiences, and allow office managers to focus on strategic decision-making. Through continued learning and networking, dental office managers have access to valuable resources that empower them to thrive in their roles and contribute significantly to the success of dental practices.