Waste Not, Want Not.

Like the start of a Netflix documentary, I’d like to preface this article by saying the following is a true story based on actual events. Although the names and locations have been altered, the account is real.

Dr. Thrifty: “What is waste?” In lean manufacturing, waste is any expense or effort that is put forward which does not transform raw materials into an item the customer is willing to pay for.

Follow me while I share this horrifying story…

Mrs. Jones is scheduled for an MO composite filling at 8:00 AM. It’s right after a semi-productive morning huddle. Cara Chaos is the dental assistant waiting for the doctor to come in and deliver anesthesia.

The tooth is prepped. Here’s where the story gets interesting. Cara Chaos does not have the bonding agent. After shuffling through several drawers and trying to look busy, she still doesn’t have what you need.

You see, Dr. Thrifty, you can’t use what you can’t see or reach. This is waste.

Waste, or anything that does not add value to a finish product, can affect three vulnerable resources: time, money and composure. But more importantly, your PATIENT is not willing to pay for it. Cara Chaos will inevitably travel on over to the storage closet or what I like to call, “the room you never want to see”, where she knows it has to be because she just ordered it. However, the phantom bonding agent is nowhere to be found (waste!).

Hannah Hoarder is the other dental assistant. She always has two of everything in her operatory (waste). Cara steals the bonding agent from her room so you can finish the procedure.

Later on, Hannah Hoarder needs the bond. She thinks there’s one in her drawer but it’s empty. Cara forgot to replace it. The schedule is already an hour behind. Hannah Hoarder breaks out into tears and you are left making awkward small talk with the patient while you mask your negative feelings toward your ENTIRE staff. You’re frustrated, Cara Chaos is now frustrated and Hannah Hoarder is lost. Worst of all, you’re running so far behind you can’t take a potty break.

At the end of the day, you log into Dentaltown to vent in hopes to find other docs experiencing your pain.

Great news! Like the name says, This Can All Be Easier! Much of this blog will be about eliminating waste. The story of Dr. Thrifty, Hannah and Cara (which probably sounds familiar to a lot of you), is part of a larger series. I hope the story of how I helped them get control of their practice will provide you some insight. Hannah does stop Hoarding, and we do tame Cara’s Chaos!

Join me for the journey!

Author Angie Bachman