Standard operating procedures are critical to help ensure your dental practice runs smoothly, safely, and efficiently. These are documents that should provide explicit, detailed directions on how certain tasks should be completed every time. Not only can strong standard operating procedures help foster healthy communication in your dental practice, but they can also encourage consistency, employee accountability, and compliance with health and safety regulations as well as the law. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) can help promote a safer environment for dental practice staff and patients alike. They can help minimize errors while encouraging continuous improvement in the practice. Here are some of the keys to writing effective SOPs for your dental practice.
Writing Effective Standard Operating Procedures for Your Dental Practice
Keep in mind all of the reasons to establish strong SOPs in your dental practice. Remembering the reasons and understanding why you are writing them in the workplace will help throughout the writing process. Writing SOPs, while an important thing for your dental practice, can be time consuming and be quickly pushed to the bottom of your to-do list as a more dreaded task than others.
Sometimes, having a concrete place to start is the best way to encourage tackling a task you may have been putting off. To begin writing your SOPs, start by creating a list of processes you have in your dental practice. This should include everything from new patient intake to room turnover protocol and the sterilization process protocol. Then begin breaking down each process in clear, step-by-step descriptions. Use clear, specific language. There is no place for being vague in an effective SOP. After detailing the SOP steps, you may also want to consider how best to lay out the information so it must effectively illustrate the process itself. Sometimes, a list will suffice. Other times, you may want to consider using a diagram to illustrate the SOP steps.
To help write your dental practice SOPs, recruit the help of practice employees. With each SOP, including those staff members who take on the tasks associated with the SOP to help develop the specific process. These are the people who perform these daily tasks. Talk with them about the steps they take in completing the tasks. Use it to form the foundation of the SOP. There may need to be some points clarified and some oversights that may need to address, but working together with staff members can be critical to helping develop effective SOPs for your practice.
In reviewing your SOPs, look for readability. Is it confusing or convoluted? An SOP needs to both provide detailed explanation of processes as well as being easy to read. It needs to be repeatable. That is, after all, one of the main purposes of an SOP. It needs to be repeatable so that you can help establish consistency in your practice. It should allow different employees to review the SOP and complete tasks the exact same way every time.