Integrating these tools and strategies will improve practice efficiency and impress upon your patients how important their comfort and safety are to you.
From the front desk to the operatory, organization can make all the difference in running a successful dental practice. Keeping your office well-organized promotes a smoother workflow and allows your team to perform more efficiently and effectively. A neat, clean practice also ensures a more positive experience for patients – it shows them you are professional, in control and ready to provide excellent care.
Despite these benefits, many practices fail to implement and take advantage of proper organizational protocols. Below, we’ll cover eight solutions for improving your practice’s organization, so you can create a better experience for patients and staff:
1. Use bins, cassettes and other instrument containers
Staying on schedule with frequent operatory turnover can be a challenge. Operatory teardown and setup takes several minutes per patient, which can add up over the course of a busy day. To increase efficiency and ensure team safety, use cassettes to collect and transport instruments to and from the sterilization area. Instruments needed for a specific procedure can be stored together in one cassette and then safely carried to the operatory when needed. Bins and tubs also can be used to gather materials and disposables needed for a given procedure, gaining the practice even more efficiency.
2. Label instruments and supplies
Labeling goes a long way in the operatory. Use words, colors and even symbols on supplies and instruments to provide staff with easy-to-identify visual cues and eliminate time spent searching for items. Sterilization tape that changes color when exposed to chemical vapor can make processed instruments easy to identify. Enabling team members to quickly select the right tools for the job gives them more time to focus on treating patients.
3. Create and use procedure setup guides
Developing clear, consistent organizational protocols also is crucial to optimizing performance. One way to promote this is by creating procedure setup sheets for the operatory. These documents should be readily available in treatment rooms and might include written supply lists and visual guides to remind personnel what items are required for a given procedure and how they should be organized. Ultimately, this mitigates confusion, saves time and streamlines workflow.
4. Organize operatory turnover products
Cleaning and disinfecting the operatory between patients is a critical component of infection control and essential to maintaining a safe, compliant practice. To facilitate this, organize operatory turnover products, such as wipes, barriers and disinfectants. For ideal results, make sure all supplies are easy to retrieve, within arm’s reach and in the same place in each operatory – ergonomic, predictable organization reduces staff stress and confusion while enhancing safety and productivity.
5. Store and label handpieces and motors
Handpieces and motors are used in almost every dental procedure, so keeping them well-organized can have a significant and positive impact on workflow. Establish a dedicated storage space for these tools so team members know where to find and return equipment and consider labeling these devices with a sterilization- safe marker, especially if they are intended for a specific purpose or procedure. The label should include the date of sterilization and place the most recently sterilized items toward the back so those sterilized on earlier dates are selected and used first. Each of these steps helps to reduce clutter and boost safety and efficiency.
6. Stay stocked
Managing inventory can cause undue stress for practices and act as a barrier to productivity and patient care. To avoid this, make sure the operatory is fully stocked at all times so you never have to step away from the patient to retrieve an item. Consider assigning each team member to an operatory that they check each morning before your first patient arrives and restock as needed. You may even want to designate a bulk storage area to quickly pull from when you need to restock operatory containers and drawers.
7. Sort the sterilization area
Having a designated sterilization area is mandatory for compliance with practice safety standards. Keeping this area clean and organized is essential to maintaining safety and productivity. Consistency is key here – always place hygiene instruments in one space, dental instruments in another and reserve a separate space for patient products and lab cases. To ensure team members know exactly where to store and locate items, label what part of the sterilization area is “clean” and what part is “dirty.”
The pandemic has made everyone extra cautious, so patients new to your practice may want a full tour to get a sense of the steps you’re taking to keep them and your team safe. A-dec sterilization centers (as seen above), which follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention design protocols, include features that will help you make a positive impression. Learn more about boosting patient confidence with sterilization solutions from A-dec.
8. Take advantage of technology
Organizing your dental practice isn’t just confined to the operatory. Using practice management software can put you in control of business planning, patient information and engagement, marketing efforts and more. From inventory management to patient outreach, this technology can streamline and automate many processes, freeing your staff up to concentrate on other responsibilities. It can even help your business thrive and grow by enhancing your reputation, reach and level of patient satisfaction.
Iannucci J. 3 Simple Organization Steps to Increase Dental Practice Productivity, Safety, and Patient Perception. Dentistry IQ. November 20, 2018.
Waterson DG. Assisted hygiene. RDH. October 1, 2011.
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This blog post originally appeared in Best Practice.