Creating Dental Office SOPs
How to Create Your Own Dental Office Standard Operating Procedures
Standard Operating Procedures (aka SOPs) go far beyond your employee office manual and job descriptions. Dental practices need them to establish office guidelines and acceptable practices, and act as a permanent “to-do” list for everyone.
Have you ever been driven crazy by a co-worker that doesn’t know what to do and when to do it?
Perhaps you feel like there are tasks that either never get done or there is a battle over who is responsible for completing them.
Establishing a standard of practice for your dental office, will ensure your team is more effective at maintaining routine tasks.
This article will walk you through creating your own set of SOPs. If you are not up for the task, you can purchase them from a company and then tailor them to the specific needs of your office.
In my experience, creating dental SOPs with your team can be an engaging way to make your dental practice team feel like they have a voice in the office.
What You Will Need
- Giant Post-It Notes
- Non-Bleed Markers
1. Schedule a Brainstorming Team Meeting
After you have the necessary supplies, schedule an initial team meeting for brainstorming. Ensure you are clear that this meeting isn’t in response to anything bad happening. Your meeting should be purpose-driven and clearly outline the benefits of establishing dental standards of practice.
Benefits of Establishing Dental SOPs
- Improve team effectiveness
- Clearly define team roles and responsibilities
- Ensure tasks are completed consistently and on-time
2. Set an SOP Goal for Each Department
During your first brain-storming session, divide the office into departments. Using the giant post-it notes, have everyone write down tasks they feel require SOPs. After your initial meeting, establish a place where team members can write their SOP ideas throughout their day. Overtime, these your post its will start to look like a step-by-step manual.
Set a goal for each department to have at least one page of SOPs by a specific date. I can’t stress enough the importance of having a reasonable deadline and sticking to it. This is one of those projects that may lose steam if you don’t make it a part of your daily and weekly routines.
Talk about it every day with your team at morning huddles and reserve time for it at every single team meeting. The work will be worth it!
Create a Master Task List
Once you’ve gathered all the ideas from your team, review them and transcribe them into a master task list.
This should include everything from sterilization procedures to front-office phone best practices.
Establish Frequency & Responsibility
Now that you’ve established your master list neatly organized by department, determine how often each task should be performed and who is responsible for completing it.
Bring it All Together
You’ve done it! Established a task list, delegated responsibilities, and outlined task frequency for your dental practice. Now it’s time to organize it into a binder.
Pro Tip! Keep check lists to a single-page and use page protectors and dry erase markers to help team members keep track of each step.
How to Use Your Dental Practice SOPs
Onboarding & Orientation
If you’ve ever worked at a large corporation, you’ve gone through a new employee orientation which covered your role responsibilities and expectations. Most HR departments at larger companies have discovered how effective SOPs are at preventing turnover.
Use your new set of dental practice SOPs whenever your onboard a new employee.
Performance Check-ins & Annual Reviews
You now have a solid list of duties and actions to hold the team accountable for. If they are not performing as expected, you can use your SOPs as a reference. Use this checklist to base performance check-ins and annual reviews on.
Updating & Maintenance
SOPs will change and evolve over time, especially when you change a program or add services to the mix. If you suddenly buy a program to help with patient flow, you will need to alter the existing protocol and add new ones.
There is no shame in using the companies’ instruction sheets to supplement you written protocol either. They are often given to you as a part of training and already provide step-by-step instructions.