Having scripts, protocols and systems in place is one of the most important things we can do to improve efficiency, increase production, and decrease stress in our office. If you’re anything like me, you have a running to-do list in your head of the written protocols you’d like to implement for every aspect of your practice. Finding the time to do it is the weak link to implementation.

I’ve always hated sticky notes. There’s nothing that makes an area look more disheveled than those tiny yellow squares lining a computer monitor or adorning the front desk. It seems like a common sentiment amongst practice owners, but I think there may be a secret society of office managers and receptionists that hold yearly meetings to solidify their love of the things! 

improve communication in the dental practice

When and why do we use sticky notes? We use them when we need to remind ourselves of something. It’s usually something that we don’t have the time to get to right away, or don’t have the tools or information necessary to complete at that moment. In my office, I get back to my desk after a busy morning of patients and I find them lining my laptop with questions or needs that have arisen from phone calls at the front when I wasn’t accessible.

While I hate the sticky notes aesthetically, the bigger problem is that sticky notes allow for things to get lost or forgotten. I’ve been trying to find a better way to organize needs in my office for a while, and I’ve recently stumbled upon a game-changer for office communication. There are a lot of programs that do the same thing, but I’ve been using Trello. Some of the more popular alternative programs include Airtable, Asana, Avaza, ClickUp, Kanban Tool and Yalla. It’s a website (that’s free!) that we have up on each of our computers, logged in to the office account. Each employee has a column, and we can add tasks, reminders or questions as they arise. It has been a GAME CHANGER for our office organization.

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When the front office gets a phone call from the lab with a question and I can’t come to the phone, a sticky note finds its way to me. I can’t count how many times in a week I’m in the hygiene room and will make a promise to a patient to email them photos, send them a vacation link we were discussing, or ask my hygienist to remind me something about a case. When that happens, I either leave the room and forget to do it or ask my hygienist to remind me, and a sticky note ends up on my desk. I don’t get to the sticky note before the laptop is packed up, the sticky note ends up in the creases of my laptop case and I find it a few weeks later. 

Now, we have inter-office communication to immediately and quickly keep ourselves organized and on task. Here’s a screenshot of how we organize our Trello:

better dental practice communication

I’ve also started personal Trello boards to organize my CE travel including rental cars, hotels and flights. If you’ve ever flown to Spear and gone to check into the Fairmont without a reservation like I have, or forgotten which rental car company you booked, this is golden.

You may be wondering how a sticky note problem warrants a Spear Digest article, but this has honestly been the best change we’ve made in our office of late, and I’d be doing a disservice not to share this with others. I was recently at the Faculty Club summit chatting with some other dentists, and it turns out sticky notes are a universal problem in dentistry! Trello keeps important things from falling through the cracks, allowing us to remain on the same page at all times. Trello certainly isn’t the only website that can do this for you, but it’s the one that works for me.

(Click this link for more dentistry articles by Dr. Courtney Lavigne.)

Courtney Lavigne, D.M.D., Spear Visiting Faculty and Contributing Author - http://www.courtneylavigne.com