Micromanaging a Clinic
Micromanagement, I believe, should be vital part of a successful and thriving dental practice. It basically requires the dentist to oversee the finer details of the dental office set-up. I don’t expect the clinician to go overly obsessive and compulsive on these matters – as accounting for every piece of paper point consumed on Monday or determining the grams of alginate left on the canister. But you basically get down to the details such as confirming and rechecking the appointed time of patients two days prior to their schedules or synchronizing the arrival of an RPD patient with his framework delivery on time. That kind of thing.
Now imagine if you’ve set an appointment with this balikbayan patient for canal obturation only to discover that you have run out of endo paste or worse, x-ray films. Am I being too OC (obssessive-compulsive) in this situation? (I usually am). But can you bearing the grunt, frustration and embarrassment of cancelled appointments, expired/ used up dental supplies or lost/misplaced dental instruments (where is our 304 elevator?!) mostly due to your lack of organization and system in scheduling and supply assessment?
Some dentists get by their practice without delving on such detail and complications. I don’t. That’s why I got me a trusty dental coordinator (a.k.a. dental assistant, secretary or my no. 1 employee) to micromanage my day-to-day dental affairs. With all the tension and pressure we encounter regularly in our operatory, maybe it’s time we let somebody else do the explaining and reminding, accounting and repurchasing(?), updating and paying, of our daily appointments, dental supplies and expenses, respectively. I take my hat off to dentists who can juggle all these responsibilities (dental/business) with ease and still keep their sanity and normal blood pressure. This is completely different from practitioners who put 50% of their heads in their dental cases and perhaps 10% into micromanaging their clinic affairs and requirements. These are dentists who are bound to disappear from the dental stratosphere, sooner or later.
So, for the last 12 years, the finer details of micromanaging has been left with my dental coordinator (though I still do the book keeping and cash disbursement) while I concentrate on flushing out dentinal debris on a partially obliterated mesiobuccal canal or evacuating blood out of the periodontal pocket before the rubber impression material enters the space. You could say I’m enjoying the practice with less stress and more time for bouldering and gym workout. However, as fate would have it, I accidentally orbited into the micromanaging realm of my practice. Guess what, the once well-entrenched highly-organized system in my office started showing signs of cracks and chaos (you know the symptoms – loyal patients suddenly disappearing, expired dental materials gathering mold in the innermost sanctum of your cabinet, rusting and oily compressor which suddenly stops in the middle of a bridgework and the classic colony of spiders taking refuge in your clinic ceiling).
It was time to take action on my dental coordinator who seemed to relaxed and forgotten the basic rules I’ve thought her in 1992 (12 years in the dental assisting has perhaps become too routinary for her). A series of re-orientation, reviewing and up dating took up more than a month to put my clinic back in its spanking, efficient new form. Now, I know better. No longer will I leave the micromanaging work to my assistant completely. Every end of the month, we do our recapitulation and analysis of the last 30 days in our practice. Now, I feel I’m running a corporation with one employee. Of course, it’s added effort and mind work but I guess it’s the only way to keep me and my assistant on our feet and the practice in tiptop shape.