Whether in writing or digital format, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) should be utilized as a part of your personnel management process now more than ever dealing with a post-pandemic labor force. They are not just policies to be followed in the dental practice; they are the actual steps to be followed consistently to accomplish certain tasks in the dental office. SOPs are a repetitive set of actions to be followed by all dental personnel in order to:
- increase performance
- improve efficiency
- reduce or eliminate confusion
- to ensure the quality of services performed.
Implementing SOPs provides consistency of service to dental patients and protects the dental office in an ever-changing environment. They are a visible support on display for your team members. The creation of SOPs clearly communicates the dentist’s expectations. So the dentist does not have to continually state over and over what is expected from each team member. SOPs also provide a virtual means of training new hires in the dental office. This includes the training of those new employees with little or no dental work experience. They also can be used as a review in team meetings to coach employees. Through teamwork, your missions will be accomplished.
Benefits of Standard Operating Procedures
The first objective of the SOP is to identify or summarize a certain task that must be performed. It must describe the purpose of the task and when, where, how and by whom it must be performed, while at the same time, define any uncommon or specialized terms so the steps can be clearly understood by the dental associate performing the task. The SOP must also address concerns with necessary equipment, supplies or any health and safety precautions. They describe in detail through the implementation of charts,tables, pictures or diagrams each step to confirm the correct procedures are being performed accurately.
The many benefits of established SOPs in the dental practice include but are not limited to:
- Reduced training time for new hires
- Better communication with employees about how to accomplish their job duties
- Consistency of task completion
- Holding employees accountable
- Ensuring safety standards are met, avoiding knowledge loss when shifting duties from one employee to another or in the event of turnover
- Simpler integration of new employees
- Quality control: SOPs ensure that your services are delivered in the same way from start to finish
Establishing Your Own SOP
To create your dental office’s own SOPs, make a list of every team member’s job duties. Review the list with your employees to learn more about what each team member does on a daily basis.
The next step is to decide what you will use to show each step of the SOP. Will you use a flow chart or a series of pictures with step-by-step instructions?
Ask for the input of your dental office team members to make sure the SOP can be clearly understood and all are on the same page about what it covers and what duties are required.
Next, who will be utilizing the Standard Operating Procedures? Will it be new or existing employees? Can each team member read and follow the directions on the SOP clearly?
Finally, put the SOP in writing or on electronic media. The step-by-step instructions should be very simple to understand and easy to view. Write the SOP in the active voice and present verb tense. Do not use the word “you” as a part of your directions. It should be understood. Make it short and sweet. The words used to write the SOP should make crystal clear the task to be completed. Use your style of instruction to illustrate the process, and be sure to follow the same style used in the office manuals or employee handbooks so everything is consistent.
Dental office SOPs should be so detailed that even someone with very limited knowledge of the directions can perform the procedure satisfactorily without supervision.
They should be so detail-oriented, there is no question in the team member’s mind at any given time the steps required to complete any procedure. The experience level required to perform each task should be set out in the section of the employee handbook titled “Personnel Qualifications.”
The last task to be done with writing the SOP is to review, test, edit and repeat this system every six or twelve months with the intention of improving the procedure or reflecting any changes made to the procedure. The SOP will not be of any benefit to the dental practice unless it is kept current and relevant to the team. SOPs are the procedures for all critical tasks performed in the dental office to result in the desired outcomes that fulfill the mission and objectives of the dental practice.
By contacting the experts at PPO Negotiation Solutions, you can learn more about how they can help your dental practice through a complimentary assessment or by scheduling a consultation!