Implementing Flip Charts for Dental Practice Systems
“The value of an idea, lies in the using of it.” – Thomas Edison
A while back I made a Daily Vlog video about flip charts. Flip charts are a way I help my staff to implement certain clinical systems in the practice. My flip charts are laminated pages which may dictate a variety of things.
The flip charts may dictate how to set up for or clean up after a certain procedure.
The flip charts may dictate how to clean out the autoclave, run a spore test, flush the suction lines, and so on.
My flip charts are very simple; as you can see in the few attached pictures below; simple images, with a few lines of instructional text on a laminate page hooked on a metal ring to make them flip-able.
What do the flip charts accomplish:
The primary accomplishment achieved by the flip charts is consistency. If you approach my lead assistant right now, and ask her how to do any of the clinical or back office duties she can rattle them off like no tomorrow. In fact…she helped me make the flip charts (we are always working on more, until we have a comprehensive set for our clinical office protocols).
But I digress, if my assistant already knows these things; why make the flip chart? The flip chart is not for me, or for her…it’s for the office.
Let’s say we are super busy, and a front desk staff wants to jump in the back and help us out. Instead of asking us a million questions….look at the flip chart. It’s all right there.
Let’s say we bring on a new hire. Of course we are going to train them on how to do things our way…but now we have a pre-made tool to assist us in training them. We won’t forget any details, because the details are in the flip chart for us to look at. And inevitably when that new hire forgets how to set up for Endo (or anything else), that new hire does not need to ask me, or anyone….they can just look at the flip chart.
The flip chart saves time.
The flip chart lessens mistakes.
The flip chart minimizes questions and confusion.
And above all – the flip chart increases consistency of protocol.
You see…. all dental practices have systems (even if they don’t realize it). However, usually those systems aren’t written down. And if they aren’t written down – the staff usually doesn’t follow them. Heck – sometimes you’ll write down a system and the staff still won’t follow it. Don’t you think the staff would be more likely to follow a system, if they helped make diagrams, images, and text explaining what the duties are? Hmmm…..
As Thomas Edison says, “The value of an idea, lies in the using of it.” Your business and efficiency ideas might be GREAT, but if you need to chase the staff around in order for them to follow it…well, that doesn’t sound like fun does it? It also doesn’t sound sustainable or profitable.
Flip charts provide something that the staff has invested their efforts in helping created (they should always help create it by taking the photos, writing the captions, etc), and gives them something visible, concrete, and accessible to follow.
Flip charts are not a system in and of themselves. They are a method to increase adherse and implementation of your systems.
Many dentists do not realize what systems are. Many dentists think that ‘Systems’ are these magical recipes and if you do them your practice will explode and make you an extra X-hundred thousand dollars per year.
Well….that sounds like a sales pitch to me.
What a system is at its core is just ‘the way you do things.’
In your mind, you should probably from this point forward replace the word ‘system’ with the phrase ‘the way you do things’ around your practice. The flip charts are a method to show your current and future staff ‘the way things are done’ in your practice so that Suzy isn’t setting up for your EXTs one way and Sally is doing it another and they are arguing about who is doing it best.
Maybe this is a method that will work for you….maybe it’s not. It all depends on ‘the way YOU do things around your practice.’ 🙂
And nobody in your practice, should have to GUESS what that way is.
–DeAngelo S. Webster, DDS
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