The advantage of being organized: organization is essential to maintaining productivity in dental practices.
Subject: Dental personnel (Practice)
Office management (Methods)
Author: Albright, Diane
Pub Date: 07/01/2012
Publication: Name: The Dental Assistant Publisher: American Dental Assistants Association Audience: Academic; Trade Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Science and technology Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 American Dental Assistants Association ISSN: 1088-3886
Issue: Date: July-August, 2012 Source Volume: 81 Source Issue: 4
Topic: Event Code: 200 Management dynamics
Product: Product Code: 8043800 Dental Auxiliaries; 9916100 Office Administration NAICS Code: 62121 Offices of Dentists
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 303225253
Full Text: Office organization is crucial to the business of dental practices. Not only does it ensure easy navigation for employees when it comes to finding important documents, but it also reflects the practice's reputation and may improve the company's ability to provide top customer service.

"To have the healthiest of practices, you should strive to provide the best medical care in the most efficient and unrushed manner," says Diane Albright, a member of National Association of Professional Organizers and corporate organization consultant through her company, Albright Ideas.

According to the Brother P-touch Means Business Survey; an estimated 38 working hours (or close to one work week) per person each year are lost as a result of looking for misplaced items. Sixty-six percent of office workers have spent up to 30 minutes of time during a typical work week looking for things they've misplaced around the office, a major contributing factor for time lost in the office.

In a profession where having more time means efficiently treating more patients and where temporary assistance is used often, it is important to make sure there is an effective organization system in place.

"Keeping the office area organized makes it much easier to find things, for not only ourselves, but also for the temporary employees that have to step in our place," says Heather Clemons of Lepow Dental Associates practice in Houston, TX.

"When setting up any organization system, you'll want to keep it simple," says Albright. "If it is not simple it won't be followed or retained. To determine if the system you are about to set up for your office is simple, ask yourself if the system could be followed without explaining it to others."

Clemons is no stranger to an easy-to-follow organization system. It gives her confidence that her co-workers will be able to maintain and understand it when she is away from her desk to ensure productivity.

"Everyone knows that I start with the charts for the next day on one side [of my desk], and as I complete them I put them on the other side. I color-code all the charts in my department and keep the legend on my desk. I use one color to notate that medical has been checked, stickers are done, and if the patient needs to update a health history. I use a different color to notate that I have verified the insurance and have adjusted the appointment description to do those items covered by insurance. It seems a little obsessive, but when I have to step away from my desk everyone says how easy it is to know exactly where I am and what still needs to be done."

When it comes to organization within a dental practice, there are several factors to consider. One of them is dealing with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Clemons says that having an organized practice ensures the security of patient information, including personal health records and financial information and allows her team to make sure they are complying to the requests of HIPAA.

"I have to make sure that when I'm auditing charts and things need to be removed (old insurance or health histories), I shred them and make sure they are not thrown in the trash or misplaced. I systemically audit the charts one by one, remove such documents and then make sure they are handled correctly. If I didn't stay organized those documents could be lost or mistakenly taken by another patient and result in trouble."

Not only does disorganization affect the face of a practice, it could mean dangerous or unfavorable situations for the patient. For example, if patients mark that they are allergic to latex and the process is not executed, they could be exposed to latex and have a severe reaction. A mistake could also result in a staff member hurt (example: patients with Hepatitis or HIV in which it is not properly documented and safety procedures are not followed).

Clemons relies on office tools, such as the Brother P-touch labeler, to maintain her workspace. By labeling filing folders, charts and cabinets, dental assistants and temporary assistants will be able to quickly identify and access information needed in a timely manner.

Here are a few tips on organization for dental assistants:

* Maximize your desk space by going vertical. Things you use regularly need to be close at hand. Things used less often can be stored up high or down low. Shelves, wall baskets, wall-mounted or magnetic file holders and hooks will be most helpful.

* Create a folder titled "Pending" for papers waiting for another person's response or action. This folder will help clear your desk and corkboard. Revisit this folder often to make sure the action or response needed has occurred. Set up this folder in your e-mail's inbox for "pending" items there, too.

* Select a label maker that is easy to use. Labeling is the key to creating a foolproof system. It increases your effectiveness at work, as well as the independence of others who function within your workspace. Label the placement of items (shelves, files, containers, bins, baskets or drawers), and take the time to label the front and backs of boxes or bins stored on shelves, so that no thought needs to go into storing them again. According to a recent survey by ORC, 96 percent of professional organizers agree that Brother[R] P-touch[R] labelers offer the most effective labeling solutions available today.

* One hour before closing time get your desk in order, q-his way if you discover an oversight of a task or call, you will still have plenty of time to accomplish it.


Diane Albright, Certified Professional Organizer, is a nationally recognized expert in the field of organization and productivity. She is a regular contributor on television programs and in magazines. Diane is the creator of Work Piles Made Easy[R]--a process that transforms disorganized workspaces into highly efficient models of productivity.
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.