Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2018 04 Tarek Aly Thumb

The 1 thing dentists need for patient care consistency (video)

April 25, 2018
Dr. Tarek Aly has read some solid research about this one thing dentists should do to help their practices operate smoothly. It's so simple many dental team members can't believe it really works. Watch his video to find out what it is.
I have some questions for my fellow dentists, dental practice owners, and dental team members out there. Have you ever forgotten a step in a process or a procedure? Has your team ever forgotten to ask patients to review the practice on Google and Facebook? Has your clinical team ever forgotten to prepare a crucial instrument prior to treatment? Has your admin team ever forgotten to verify a patient’s insurance eligibility prior to the person’s visit? Has your leadership team ever forgotten to run an important report or check on an essential metric? Have you ever forgotten to make a payment to a vendor?

I’m sure the answer is yes to many of these questions. You’re not alone. It’s very common for people to forget. This is not because we lack knowledge or experience. The high levels of stress and fatigue we experience every day can compromise our cognitive function. As a result, we forget important steps.

According to Dr. Atul Gawande, despite the advancement of surgery and the number of surgeries performed every year, more than 150,000 Americans die each year during surgery. Research consistently shows that half of all deaths are due to avoidable human error, such as forgetting to confirm the availability of reserve blood before surgery or not washing hands properly prior to surgery. Such errors are completely unacceptable, yet are common and cause serious complications.


Checklists will revolutionize your dental practice


Dr. Gawande set out to find a solution and searched in other industries with high stakes and severely reduced human error. He interviewed leaders in the construction and aviation industries, two industries that have maintained a reputation of excellence despite operating in a risky and complex environment. Catastrophic events rarely occur these industries. The construction industry has a building failure rate of 0.00002%, that means only one in every 50,000 structures partially or entirely collapses due to a human error.

These industries have excellent track records because they developed a habit of consulting a checklists in their day to day processes. It’s hard to imagine something as simple as a checklist would significantly improve a process to the extent of eliminating more than 80% of the chances of avoidable errors. But the fact is, it actually works.

Nobel prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman suggested using a checklist of 12 cognitive biases when making a business decision. This includes checking for things such confirmation bias, which is when people ignore contradicting evidence.

It’s not like people aren’t aware of these errors, it’s just that we’re not always aware of them and don’t always remember to avoid them. So following his suggestion, checklists force someone to switch to a more rational mindset when making a big business decision.

What am I getting at with this information?

In order to ensure patient care consistency, minimize errors, improve quality, and help train team members, there need to be checklists in your practice. Check out my video here to find out why. You'll be glad you did!

Here are some checklists you need to have in your dental practice:

1. Patient experience checklist

This checklist has all the items necessary to ensure a standard and quality patient care process. This checklist delineates the complete process of patient care from start to finish. Here’s a snippet of what this checklist could look like.

2. Task checklists

This list should be a bullet point how-to guide for important tasks. Examples include an office open checklist, end-of-day checklist, daily deposit checklist, office cleaning checklist, new team member orientation checklist, and equipment maintenance checklist.

3. Audit checklists

a) Administrative audit—This audit allows a senior admin team leader to audit the important components of the patient experience checklist.
b) Clinical audit—This audit allows a clinical team member to audit the clinical notes to ensure compliance with the dental board.

4. Team member checklists

These lists should include every task every team member should be doing on a recurring schedule. Examples include the office manager checklist, scheduling coordinator checklist, treatment coordinator checklist, and dental assistant checklist.

You should incorporate processes and checklists that enable team members to perform the monotonous, recurring, yet important tasks. This allows their full attention to be given to patient care and maintaining high levels of accuracy and productivity.

Remember that a dental practice is like any other medical entity and business. All the departments need to work together coherently to produce the ultimate outcomes, which are exceeding patient expectations, being an integral part of the community, and creating growth and expansion to create jobs for the community and profits for the stakeholders.

Flying, driving, and the importance of key performance indicators in your dental practice (video)

For the most current practice management headlines, click here.
For the most current dental headlines, click here.
Tarek Aly, DDS, practiced dentistry and periodontal surgery for years while also working in management and marketing. He graduated from the Faculty of Dentistry, Alexandria University in Egypt. He has a graduate certificate in periodontics and oral medicine and a diploma in sales and marketing. His expertise includes business valuation, human resource management, business operations, dental organizations management, and dental support organizations platform development and management. He has written three publications and is currently working on a book addressing management of the dental practice and DSOs. He is currently the COO and cofounder of OrthoDent Management LLC and president and founder of Precision Advisory LLC.