How to Re-Establish Systems At The Dental Practice

The last year has brought about many changes in dental practices. Most offices have spent the last 12 months trying to keep the office running and that has meant pushing aside some of the important systems and protocols that we rely on to keep things running smoothly for our patients, as well as our team. Most offices have seen turnover with their teams and bringing new people on board.

All of these changes have led many to a new normal; A team that may be disjointed and a lack of organization.

So how do we embrace these changes and make them work for us? We communicate. Sounds simple, right? I think communication is something we often take for granted. The most successful offices have systems in place whereby each person on the team knows their role and the part they play in the patient experience. But, when those systems are set aside and the team is just doing what they can to get through the day, the practice suffers. Add new team members to the mix and then we have a group of people who are working but not with a defined focus.

Everyone is busy completing tasks but productivity is low. The first step in getting a change like this to happen is to take down the “us vs. them” walls and start thinking of everyone in the office as part of the same amazing team.

Communication is the solution.

We need to take the time to audit our systems and determine how they can be improved and in many cases, re-implemented into our day-to-day operations. Once that is completed, we need to be sure everyone on the team, old and new, understands what is expected and has been properly trained to be successful in their role. Be open to feedback during this process and ask the team for suggestions about how to create a more efficient flow. People want to be heard and will be more likely to speak up and comply if they are included.

A dental office is going to run more efficiently and more enjoyably when the team realizes that each position plays an important role in the success of the entire team. An amazing dental team needs rock star front-office employees, amazing dental assistants, superhero hygienists, and superstar dentists in order to pull together the best dental care possible for the patients. No single job is more important than another, and no one role works harder than any other role. The office can thrive long-term only if every individual person on the team is dedicated not just to their own success but to the success of the team as a whole. There are good and bad parts of all of the positions in the office, and as long as the team realizes they need one another, they can learn to work better together and always respect one another.

Team members often get caught up in their individual roles and forget about the bigger picture. Especially during a time when systems are not in place. I am hearing from doctors and office managers “that is not my job” has become a phrase they hear all too often. We need to bring teams together. Remind them that we are all working towards a common goal – helping your patients. The team needs to learn to communicate well with each other in order to create an exceptional patient experience. This means everyone needs to “up their game”, not let others down, make sure they are improving in their own roles, and look for opportunities to help. Also, something a little more difficult, be able to ask for help if needed.

How do we come together and stay together as a team? We learn to communicate well with each other and remember that keeping our patients healthy is the common goal we are all working towards.

Laura Nelson

Laura Nelson, BS, MS, FAADOM is the founder and driving force behind Front Office Rocks, and the leading provider of on-demand virtual training and resources for dental practices.