In order to conform to local and national laws and standards of safety and ethics, your practice must have a system in place for Quality Management (QM), aka Quality Assurance (QA). But beyond this, Quality Management is central to dental practice management. A high-quality practice is a successful practice.
What is Quality Management?
A Quality Management System is essentially a set of documented policies, procedures and processes created to ensure that your practice achieves its quality objectives. According to Sean G. Boynes, DMD “A quality assurance plan must include the progression of quality assessment, identification of issues, development of a strategy for resolving problems, and implementation of changes.” Assessment, strategies, and plans for changes—that’s a lot for a small practice to set up! In some cases, the larger medical providers develop independent systems. Fortunately, there is lots of information available about setting up your own system.
How Do Dental Practices Measure Quality?
The best way to measure quality is to set clear goals and then consistently gather and analyze data based on those goals. Are you concerned about customer service, scheduling, if patients feel well treated, if mistakes are being made in diagnosis and treatment?
Create your Quality Management System based on the quality criteria that matter most to you.
Example One: You want to start patient appointments on time and finish on time. Actual start and end times should be recorded daily and compared to what was in the schedule. When appointment times run longer, interview staff and find how what happened, write down the information, and use it to improve future scheduling.
Example Two: You want patients to have an excellent experience. Don’t wait for them to complain. Ask patients to fill out a short survey after their appointment with no more than five questions to find out how you and your staff performed compared to their expectations. The last question on the survey should be: Was there anything at all we could have done to make your appointment better?
Keep in Touch with Staff and Patients about Quality Management
Once you have a plan in place for good Quality Management, involve your staff at every level. They are the ones delivering the care and patient interaction that you’re trying to assess and improve. And don’t forget to tell your patients! Include a statement of your Quality Management philosophy and plan on your dental practice website. Be sure to include any certifications and the ongoing training of your staff.
A good Quality Management plan is a must for complying with safety regulations and maintaining good standing as a dental practice. But it’s also crucial to improving and succeeding in the dental marketplace. Quality Management starts with understanding the goals, getting the right information, making a plan and then putting it into “practice.”