As you grow your dental group practice, standard operating procedures (SOPs) are an essential tool. SOPs assist you in capturing the best practices from one location and implementing them across your entire organization. As you provide a standardized, written structure for your workflows, you can make sure all employees are trained on their applicable SOPs so they are doing their work most efficiently. SOPs provide the consistency that keeps your workflow stable as you grow.
There has been a brisk rise in the number of group dental practices, and these group practices continue to expand to achieve better economic success. If you are part of these growing number of group practices, you can use SOPs to help you scale up and grow as efficiently and easily as possible.
SOPs help you grow your practice by alleviating growing pains. The process of growing group practices is dramatically easier if your practice has SOPs in place. Written SOPs enable you to communicate changes to your employees. As the practice grows and changes are made to processes, the steps in the SOPs are updated. Provide regular training for employees as SOPs are updated to ensure that changes are communicated to all employees in a smooth and efficient way. In the following paragraphs, we’ll outline key factors to consider, provide some recommendation for how to start implementing SOPs, and detail how your practice management software can play a key role in facilitating your SOP implementation.
As you begin to create SOPs, there are a few things to keep in mind. Who is your target audience? Of course, you’ll first need to bring your existing team members up to speed and align them on new procedures. But remember that new employees will also be trained with these SOPs. As you create the SOP, keep it relevant to the job instead of making it specific to a person. Refer to who performs a task by referring to their job title, not their name.
Another thing to remember is to be very clear in the way you document the SOP. Avoid any chance of misinterpretation by the reader. Each step of a process needs to be specifically and clearly defined. You must provide enough detail so that there is no ambiguity in the instructions. Effective SOPs need to be explicit as possible — while avoiding wordiness.
Writing your practice’s SOPS doesn’t have to be complicated. You just need to start. Get the process written down in a shared Word doc or Google Doc. As you work, be conscious of the steps you are performing to complete a task, and write them down. It’s OK if your first take isn’t perfect. You can come back and change things or add to this list over time.
Another idea is to consider hiring a technical writer. Technical writers gather information from employees by asking detailed questions, following employees through each step of their tasks. Then writers transfer the information gathered into clear and concise SOPs. Not only will this be a time-saver for you, but it will help you quickly get superior, professional results.
Your practice management system should play a critical role in standardizing processes. Dentrix Ascend, for example, standardizes workflows for each team member, with a daily task list to make sure important tasks don’t fall through the cracks. Dentrix Ascend already has best practices built in. As each team member follows those standard workflows, you’ll reap higher efficiency across your organization.
One tool that’s unique to Dentrix Ascend is Exit Workflow. Exit Workflow helps practices implement a standard exit workflow process, which is a procedure that is especially critical in group practices because you have to keep track of a lot of patients. When a patient checks out, Exit Workflow automatically reminds staff to follow a set of steps to make sure a recare appointment is scheduled, contact information is current, and payment is collected. Exit Workflow is essentially an SOP that helps ensure consistent, quality care.
Dentrix Ascend Exit Workflow also has a report feature that helps you monitor the team’s adherence to the standardized checkout process. This information helps you ensure consistency of the workflow. It also informs you if there is a team member who might need more training or helps you determine an employee’s job performance for performance reviews.
SOPs are valuable for any size organization, but for groups with standardized processes in place, the efficiencies they have created multiply across the organization as you grow, which leads to better care and greater savings. Group practices need practice management software that scales with them and supports standardized workflows across locations.
Learn what makes Dentrix Ascend the right solution for your group practice, including tools such as:
Dentrix Ascend from Henry Schein One can elevate your practice by helping you spend less time managing your practice and more time caring for your patients. With a modern interface and intuitive workflow, Dentrix Ascend includes features and functionality you need — including appointment reminders, two-way texting, electronic insurance claims and more — to run a successful, modern group practice.