Change up your dental health game with checklists that will rock your practice.
Whether it’s posted on the fridge in a kitchen at home, over a counter in a surgical room, or as part of a aeronautical preparation for takeoff, a checklist is one of the most essential tools to ensure everything runs smoothly. After all, you are only human and there is only so much you can remember. Sometimes other factors in your day — like the amount of sleep you get or your own personal life events — can distract you, causing you to miss important steps.
So, take that pressure off and start using checklists. All sorts of businesses can implement them and dental offices are no exception. Dentists, office managers, hygienists and assistants can all follow procedures in a specific order to ensure their practices operate in tip-top shape.
If you are interested in more ways to increase your practice's productivity, read this blog post about: "This is how to increase the productivity of your dental practice".
What are checklists all about?
If you know anything about checklists already, then the name Dr. Atul Gawande might ring a bell. As a surgeon and Harvard professor, Dr. Gawande revolutionized the healthcare workplace 10 years ago when he wrote The Checklist Manifesto. Through his research, he noticed that surgeons were accidentally skipping important procedural steps that led to patient infections, and even death.
Gawande illustrated how the extensive checklist procedures that pilots and flight crews used could directly apply to surgery and healthcare as prevention against contagion. As a result, levels of infection and deaths after surgery decreased dramatically.
How do dental offices use a checklist?
Essentially, a checklist provides a concise step-by-step framework or script that each team member follows to increase efficiency and organization, and reduce errors and stress to make a practice more effective, productive and profitable.
A concise checklist allows each team member to successfully complete all tasks without having to depend on their memories alone. Providing a reliable list for each role or procedure performed in a dental office can almost guarantee that every step gets completed.
Create your own
Customizing each checklist to your practice is vital. You can create a checklist for any procedure in your practice that you feel can be refined for greater productivity. These can include:
Scheduling. You can use the data to analyze patient attendance — like late arrivals and no-shows; generate a list of patients who are overdue in payment; and monitor each work station’s productivity against the output goal.
Infection control. Routine hand-washing, personal protective equipment, tool sterilization, sharps processing or disposal and disinfecting surfaces are among the important processes to complete in order to prevent patient and employee infection.
End-of-day. Includes tasks like cleaning, sterilizing equipment, garbage disposal and powering off all electronics. Employees initial each task upon completion and submit the completed checklist before leaving the office.
What could a dental office checklist look like?
There are multiple checklists that a dental office can use. They can cover morning, afternoon and closing routines to daily, weekly, and monthly plans or even yearly schedules.
Checklists can apply to all departments and divisions in a dental practice such as front office, accounting, lab, and treatment areas. You can create patient checklists that are specific to their demographic: pediatric, geriatric or new patients. A new patient checklist could include patient registration, setting up appointment and payment reminders, scheduling follow-up appointments and more.
This checklist is just one example of the many responsibilities of a dental practice owner. Staffing is a major concern for most owners. Cloud Dentistry offers a platform for booking dental staff on-demand. Sign up today and see how easy it is to book a dental professional.
Some tips and suggestions
The idea of having so many checklists can seem overwhelming. To help make this task seem less daunting we recommend the following:
Keep them short and sweet. Too many details can lead to confusion. As long as your employees are properly trained in each procedure, you should be able to list each task using no more than two to five words, such as “Administering anaesthesia” or “Check stock and inventory supplies.”
Make it a team effort. Get together with your staff to gather their input. They often know their roles and environment to make effective suggestions. Review completed lists with them so they know expectations ahead of time.
Go automated. You can find checklist templates online, or you can create and manage your own manually. If either of these ideas cause you anxiety, you can find software to help you out. For example, programs can automatically send out reminders to patients on their phones through text or email to ease the workload on your front-office staff.
Checklists are only as good as how they are utilized. Create a sign-off procedure that all employees — yourself included — must follow. Using a checklist helps people slow down and be more mindful in their actions, which can help prevent mistakes.
Submitting, gathering and monitoring checklist data will help you analyze your practice’s efficiency, and secure accountability in the off chance that a patient experiences infection.
While this can sound like a daunting responsibility, there are software options that can do the work for you, making you available to focus on your practice.