Why Your Patient File Organization And Record Keeping Is Important

Your front office organizational methods and processes, as well as your patient record-keeping, can either set you apart from other dental practices with your efficiency, or it can be illustrative that your dental practice is not up to par.

So be sure to take into account the reasons why it is important to prioritize the file organization and record keeping in your office.

Quality Patient Care

The main objective of opening a dental practice is to be able to help others. Having a known organizational method that works for efficiency, and rapid access will allow your front office to give the best quality of customer care to your patients possible.

This will also allow ease of access for the rest of your team before they proceed with any recommendations, tests, or procedures. The last thing that you need is your team spending their time searching through file folders, and cabinets to find basic information that should be readily available.

Some things to consider is whether or not your dental practice is planning on being fully digital, or if it wants to embrace more of the traditional style of paper folders.

While it is important to have physical documentation for all of your patients, a large number of dental practices are now shifting to digital versions of files for ease of access.

Having completely digital documentation allows your dental hygienist to pull up their folders and all of their information from the ease of their computer, or mobile tablet if your dental practice offers that. Having all of your files be in a digital format will also allow for overall ease of illustrating concerns and issues to patients, as well as for your own organizational methods. For example, you can digitally mark up a dental x-ray to show a patient some of the concerns that you may have. While if this was strictly in a physical sense to improve much more difficult to show that in a clear and precise way.

There is always more to an efficient organizational system than just the numbering on the outside of a file or the name of the digital folder.

If you’re changing the organizational method to embrace a new and possibly more efficient method, then be sure you explain and train your team on the full operations of how the new system works. Then allow and understand that there will be a grace period in which productivity will lower until everyone becomes accustomed to the new system.

Research And Teaching

No matter how much we think we know about dentistry, we are always learning new things, and experiencing new situations. Having access to these dental records will allow you to study and research cases that are happening frequently.

Having these resources available will also allow you to train your dental hygienists if some of them are making incorrect diagnoses. You’ll be able to show examples of numerous scenarios to your dental hygienists and the rest of your team. You could also implement these resources into monthly or quarterly training workshops Led by the lead dentist of the office. Through their extensive training and knowledge, they will be able to provide some additional information to the rest of the team that may be interesting, help their understanding, or assists in the general efficiency of the dental practice.

The Importance Of Organization

Without organization and methods, things tend to get lost along the way. This can be something as simple as forgetting you put that file away this morning and now you believe that you miss placed it somewhere because you can’t find it anywhere else.

In this example, there is nothing truly wrong that has happened, only a miscommunication, but it will lead to panic, improper actions being taken, and possibly a large time commitment to resolve the issue.

Not being properly organized will also give off a negative impression to all of your patients that are able to see the disorganization and the effects it causes. No patient feels comfortable when they walk up to the front desk and ask a question only to have the front desk member have to turn and start rifling through stacks of files that don’t seem to have an order to them.

As much as it is about utility, it also has to be some what about appearance. Your patients' opinions are some of the most important opinions when it comes to your business. This will affect word-of-mouth patient referrals, your online presence, and reviews.

Every interaction with a patient must be with putting your dental practice's best foot forward.

Legal Protection

This is always important for maintaining the safety of your dental office. It is important to remember that we are not giving legal advice, and we are only speaking to some hypothetical situations that may occur in which having documentation may assist you.

There may be some situations where a patient has an unpleasant experience, or they feel that some form of dental procedure wasn’t necessary. They may also go as far as to claim that you did not perform what you said you were going to.

Instances like this show why it is very important to have very specific and intentional documentation. There needs to be no opportunity for things to get lost between the individual performing the task, and the documentation of the steps that were conducted.

Otherwise, this may lead to issues if the patient requests documentation of all the steps that were taken during anything related to them.

Having this documentation from preoperative x-rays and postoperative x-rays, and summary reports of their visit gives the dental practice a foot to stand on. Otherwise, it may turn into “they said this and I said this” situation. 

Remember to have all of your documentation be accurate before closing that file on that patient for the day.
Posted in office management at 06/02/2021 1:00pm