It’s here… the most wonderful time of the year. But with all this merriment comes busy dental practices, making it trickier than ever to accommodate patients’ schedules and also make time for a little self-care. With insurance benefits ticking down to year end, and college kids coming home for the holidays, you’ll find yourself wondering: where were these people the rest of the year?!
For some dental providers and team members, this whirlwind schedule can create stress and tension. You can ensure improvements in mood and less fatigue throughout the day by prepping your office and staff, ultimately enhancing the overall patient experience. Read through for our tips on creating good (holiday) habits in the workplace.
Preparation, preparation, preparation
This might seem obvious, but during the holidays preparing for each day ahead of time is crucial. When the practice anticipates having moderate to high patient volume, reviewing the schedule one-to-two weeks in advance can be tremendously helpful. Check to make sure patients are scheduled for the appropriate amount of time for each appointment to avoid last minute issues. Putting in dental procedures for preventive and diagnostic visits, or pending treatment ahead of time helps the dental provider and team members before the patient even lands in the chair. Check dental insurance benefits, prepare preset trays with necessary instruments and materials for procedures, and order all materials ahead to keep laboratories and operatories stocked. Just a little bit of planning creates a lot less stress on everyone.
Talk It Out
Preparation is important, but it’s nothing without proper communication. Poor communication is bound to increase tension, stress, confusion amongst dental providers, team members and patients. Worst of all, it can lead to a negative patient experience. To avoid this, schedule a 15-20 minute daily morning “stand-up” with your team. Together, you can identify opportunities for treatment, determine when the doctor can complete hygiene exams, and identify ways team members can support each other if they foresee a scheduling issue efficiently. A well-planned, open floor meeting (whether it’s 15-20 minutes daily or 1-2 hours once a week) helps everyone stay informed, and makes patients feel they are receiving the best care.
Head, Shoulders, Wrists, Feet
Dental work requires high precision. It’s easy for the active muscles to become fatigued and cause discomfort. Focusing on proper ergonomics can reduce foreseeable physical stress areas it impacts the most: the neck, back, shoulders, wrists, hands, feet and eyes. Two easy wins — dental loupes and comfortable footwear. Whether you wear loupes or not, it doesn’t change how you should properly position yourself while working on a patient. Ensure your two feet are flat on the ground, thighs parallel to the floor, back straight and elbows close to your side with some movement of the forearms. Remember: your patient’s head should always be elbow level, relax your shoulders and incorporate a good wrist roll when activating the use of an instrument.
Tell, Show, Do
Preventive education with your patients creates good dental hygiene habits and helps keep them healthy. Digital technology in dentistry greatly supports preventive treatment helping patients visualize the issues that need to be addressed in a timely manner. Utilizing the “tell, show, do” model helps explain to patients their dental health in a way that creates awareness, reflection and hopefully, change in behavior. Discussing short-term and long-term risks, benefits, alternatives and solutions is important too. Keeping patients well-informed means they’ll be better equipped to make decisions, preventing them from issues that could result in time intensive and costly procedures.
One final tip: use the Pareto Principle - or the 80/20 rule - roughly 80% of the effects in a day come from 20% of the causes. With this in mind, how can you dedicate 20% of your day, every day, to set yourself up for success?
Shaik, A.R. 2015. Dental ergonomics: Basic steps to enhance work efficiency.
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Kumar, P. 2015. Pareto principle: the 80-20 phenomenon.
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