You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website. Originally, I had planned for this article to be specifically about obtaining patient focused feedback to help our dental practice grow, and then the phone rang. If your staff is similar to many other dental practices, you have a Lead Assistant managing your assistants, a Lead Front Desk receptionist, a Lead Hygienist, an Office Manager who oversees everyone, and a Doctor who is hiding in their office hoping to avoid all of it.
Not all dental practices will run into this problem, but as in the case with my friend, sometimes it hinders the flow of communication. When it comes to encouraging them to speak up and tell us what they would like, I feel suggestion cards work best. On the other end of the line was an angry and frustrated dental assistant who is a close friend of mine. Segregating the various departments and establishing a chain of command is an excellent way of keeping information flowing, but it also creates some walls of separation in the communication process. No matter how valid some of her ideas may be, her Lead Assistant did not feel that it worth bringing to anyone’s attention. The entire office has lunch together that day with the spotlight on vocalizing various observations regarding ways to make the dental practice a little better.

I am familiar with one practice that gives their patients a card when they are seated to make notes on at any point during their appointment. Whether it be adding more photos to the reception area or trying out a new impression material, the suggestions that will transform us from good, to great, to extraordinary are in the people we see and treat every day. Apparently, she had made several observations that she believed would help the practice run more efficiently, but no one listened. If she were to jump the established chain of command, she feared it would cause her Lead Assistant to make her work day unpleasant in retaliation. By creating an open forum, the information gets to everyone and the entire staff feels included in the process. While there are always those very verbose patients, the majority do not want to potentially upset the people who will be drilling or scaling in their mouth. As she went on, I thought to myself how good some of these ideas were, and decided to start this article again. So, how do we get around this and make sure that everyone gets a voice, while being respectful to the positions required for a dental practice to run efficiently? Perhaps a suggestion by an assistant regarding keeping instruments from getting lost in sterilization is found to be a great idea for hygiene as well.

They don’t have to reveal their name if they choose not to, but the practice was quite surprised to learn some of the things patients had to say. Her phone call reminded me that all the feedback we get regarding our practice is important, whether it comes from internal or external sources. Because every individual in our dental practice has a unique experience to share, finding ways to ensure they share them with us will benefit everyone. As they sit in the chair, they may notice some cobwebs on the wall your cleaning lady missed, or even that your bur block is looking a little rusty.
As we rush to turn over rooms or sterilize instruments, many of these tiny details are over looked by us.

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