What are the best ways to run a dental practice for greater success? Here’s the key: Successful dental practice management is achieved through the use of SOPs (standard operating procedures).
It seems almost too simple to be true, but having SOPs in place for each process at your dental practice can lead to higher revenue and more productivity from your dental team. And this makes dental practice management easier.
Quick recap: SOPs (standard operating procedures) are documented, step-by-step instructions on how a task is completed. SOPs create easy-to-follow processes for work-related tasks that, ideally, anyone can follow.
In this article, we’re sharing 3 tips when using SOPs for dental practice management. These tips will help you understand what a good SOP looks like, how they should be created and managed, and who should be creating them. Here’s a preview of our tips:
Let’s dive in.
1. Update your SOPs regularly for more productive dental practice management
SOPs aren’t useful if they haven’t been updated in years. We see this often with dental teams. They have SOPs for tasks in their office, but they haven’t been updated. This is where the phrase, “this is the way we’ve always done it” comes in.
Would you be surprised to know that neglecting to update your SOPs may actually harm your productivity and revenue?
When you’re stuck in your ways, you aren’t moving forward or growing. And this is bad for business. Evolving and learning new, more efficient ways to complete tasks around the dental office will make your job easier, and also help you be more productive.
As technology advances and dental insurance policies update, it’s impossible to go a year without at least a few updates to your SOPs, especially surrounding your dental billing processes. Dental practice management software has updates too! These updates are something to take note of to revise your SOPs where necessary.
2. Make your SOPs accessible to everyone at the dental practice
The primary purpose of SOPs is to make completing tasks easier. But the other purpose is to have instructions for your tasks if someone else needs to complete them. So, make sure everyone has access to the SOPs in your dental practice. You never know when they might need to refer to them.
For example, you’re in charge of calling patients for unscheduled treatment. Your SOP would ideally list every step of this process. But let’s say you go out of town for vacation for a week. Does that mean unscheduled patients are not called for an entire week? That leads to a halt in production, and you want to avoid that.
Thanks to your trusty SOP, one of your coworkers should be able to pull it out, follow the instructions easily, and be able to complete this task for you until you return.
We recommend creating SOPs in a document that includes:
- The name and purpose of the task the SOP is detailing
- Step-by-step instructions for each task
- Short explanations for each step (the “why” behind each step)
- Easy to read, brief instructions — the more broken down into details, the better. But use easy-to-read language
The Open Dental Wiki is a great tool to centralize this information right inside your practice management software. You can use keywords for easier search, insert hyperlinks to other wiki pages, add images, external hyperlinks (to online training or other resources), and more. And the system maintains a complete record of all revisions (and who made them).
New employees should also have access to any and all SOPs
SOPs are your friend when it comes to profitable and productive dental practice management. They will cut time on instruction and you’ll spend less time training new hires yourself.
SOPs are a great resource for training new employees. When you already have step-by-step processes in place, and they are documented, your new hires can easily refer to them to learn their job.
“Once you have developed your step-by-step SOP, you can create your checklist using a bullet point summary of the key components of the procedure. This checklist summary is a great tool to keep at your desk on a clipboard for easy reference until you become familiar with the procedure.” – The Nitty Gritty Details of SOP writing by AADOM
When steps are clear, easy to follow, and accessible — there is rarely a question of how to do something. This will lead to a less stressed-out team (or new hire) and more productivity from everyone! And this, in turn, will lead to higher collections.
3. Put the person who performs the tasks in charge of creating and adjusting the SOP
So we’ve shared why it’s important to update your SOPs and why they should be accessible to everyone.
But who is responsible for creating SOPs?
It’s easy to put all SOPs on your dental practice manager, but truly the best people to create SOPs are the ones who regularly complete the respective tasks. Who knows your job better than you?
So, if you’re just getting started, have your team members make their own SOPs for each of their tasks. Give them an example or create a template for consistency.
If you’re the dental practice manager, you should review these SOPs, and add or remove what you’d like to change about their process. But overall, the SOP needs to come from the person who knows the ins and outs of that task. And you’ll review it to be sure it’s easy to understand as someone who does not perform that task.
Take your dental practice management and SOPs a step further by hiring an Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) provider
You now understand how SOPs will make your dental practice management easier, more efficient, and more productive. The ease with which your team can follow these step-by-step instructions will ensure that they complete their tasks quickly and accurately.
Take your dental practice management’s efficiency a step further and hire an expert revenue cycle management service provider. When you do, you’ll update your SOPs to take best advantage of this partnership. Dental Claim Support’s services will provide a worry-free billing process that empowers you and your team to put patients first.
To learn more about DCS’ services, schedule a call with one of our experts.