Systems; What Are They and Why Do We Need Them?

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If you have worked outside the dental industry in a business setting, chances are you are familiar with the term Systems. However, in the dental world, the term and the concept are not used as readily. But they should be. Think of systems as a set of organized instructions forming an entire network of how to. Or as one client put it “If I was hit by a bus tomorrow, this is how you do everything in the office!” We know systems and protocols are important and we know we should have them in place. And yet this seems to be one of the biggest area’s we are lacking. For us creating effective systems in a dental office is a vital step in the process of obtaining consistent results that reflect the practice vision.

Your documented systems are your building blocks for delivering the care and experience you envisioned when you opened your practice. When well-organized systems meet excellent customer service you have a recipe for success. They ensure that new team members have clear guidelines on how to deliver results and existing team members know what expectations they are living up to within your vision. Every practice is different, and every practice is ever-changing which means the systems need to change with your growing business. These documents should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.

We find that most offices have some systems documented but not organized. Most of them may even be in your head. Finding a place to start is usually the hardest part of this process. We start by assigning categories such as Ownership, Administrative, Business, Clinical, Hygiene, and Marketing. Next, if you don’t have systems in place currently start by outlining the ones that may be needed. A nice organized checklist could be the easiest to gather your thoughts. If you do have some in place, review them and see what’s missing or what needs to be changed or updated.

Here is a good partial list to get you thinking but remember they should reflect the practice, the vision and the systems already in place.

Accounts Receivable

  • Posting Payments
  • Posting Insurance
  • Patient Billing

Insurance Management

  • Fee Schedule Mgmt.
  • Verification
  • Claim Mgmt.

New Patient

  • Phone Scripts
  • Scheduling

Patient Handoffs

  • Arrival
  • Chairside
  • Dismissal


  • Blocked Scheduling
  • Confirmations
  • Open Time Mgmt.
  • Emergency Time

Office Communication

  • Team Meetings
  • Morning Huddles
  • Daily Communication

Hygiene Department

  • Appointment Protocol
  • Perio Protocol
  • Same-Day Treatment
  • Open Time
  • X-ray Protocol

Patient Retention

  • Recare System
  • Correspondence
  • Scripting
  • Broken Appointments

Clinical Team

  • Tray Setup
  • Supply Ordering
  • Lab Case Management
  • Clinical Notes
  • X-ray Protocol
  • Procedural Guidlines

Other Areas

  • Day End Procedures
  • Emergency Patients
  • Software Protocol

These are just a few items that are key to your team understanding how you expect your practice to function. Some systems will be detailed and lengthy. Others may be as simple as a checklist that needs to be accomplished each day. The systems you create do not need to adhere to a standard format in the beginning, they just need to be clear and concise. If at some point you want to create and implement a systems manual it will be easier to accomplish once you have the initial steps in place.

Now that you understand systems a bit more, you probably also realize you have some in place right now. They may not be organized and documented, but you have them. Now is the time to take those policies out of your head and put them into a workable space. It is easy to get bogged down in the details and overwhelmed by where to start. Start with your category breakdown, then your checklist. The next step is to start documenting, then formatting. It can seem like a huge project, but we promise it is needed, appreciated by the team and well worth the time and effort.

As always, the team at Practice Dynamics is here to help you accomplish Balance Driven Success by utilizing Systems Teams and Technology. Reach out with any questions you may have. We are excited to hear about your successes!

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