11.9.12 Issue #557 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
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Ergonomics Equal Excellent Economics for Your Practice
Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

Prepare and prevent, don’t repair and repent. ~ Author Unknown

Clinical efficiency is demonstrable with the OSHA approved ergonomics in place for the dentist and his/her assistant. Being able to reach all materials and instruments quickly and safely is usually designed with concerted effort by the dental clinical design team and the dentist. Having to get up and down to run in and out of the treatment room to retrieve necessary items has been proven to throw the best planned schedule off track and has been rejected fully by the clinical team in favor of an efficient, safe and well supplied operating space.

Designing the business office space with ergonomics in mind has not garnered the same attention, even though studies have shown that people working in the front office area suffer from a myriad of ailments caused by poor ergonomics including but not limited to the following:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Eyestrain, blurred or decreased vision
  • Hearing decline
  • Headaches
  • Backaches, neck pain and tightness
  • Muscular aches and strains in arms and legs
  • Fatigue
  • Digestive and bowel disturbances

Time and motion studies reveal that a poorly designed and uncomfortable business working space causes worker productivity to decline and enthusiasm to wane as the day progresses. What can be done to prevent ailments and injuries as well as improve the working space and save time? Use the following list to assess the front office business space and make changes to achieve proper ergonomics:

1. Arrange the desk workspace to place all materials as close to the point of use as possible. Minimize the number of materials to be used in a given procedure.

2. Place items that are used frequently where the least amount of movement is necessary to find and use them - such as putting the stapler by the printer.

3. Materials should be organized in a logical sequence of use. Place the credit card scanner where the patient checks out on the counter so that the patient can swipe it.

4. Train yourself to use smooth continuous motions instead of zig-zag motions so your body movements take up the least amount of time.

5. Anticipate your actions and position materials and equipment in advance of use whenever possible.

6. Make sure the chairs at the front desk are designed for proper foot placement and back and body support to maintain proper posture. They should be adjustable and not wobbly or loose.

7. Provide the proper lighting that does not produce shadows or dark areas in work areas where looking at documents and computer screens needs accuracy. Eliminate glare on the computer screen with a special screen. Work with breaks so that you can get away from the computer and give eyes a chance to rest. 

8. Position the computer monitors so that the line of site to screen is within 10 to 40 degrees horizontal.

9. If a fixed height desk is used, add a keyboard tray that adjusts vertically to provide added adjustability.

10. Printers, scanners, fax and postage machines or meters, etc. should be at a height that does not require bending or reaching and should be close to the computer monitor to allow for easy use without crossing the room or using an extended reach.

11. Using a hands free phone eliminates neck and shoulder pain from cradling the phone between the ear and the shoulder.

12. Placing the phone on the side of the non-dominant hand (left side if right handed and vice versa) allows the phone user to write while speaking.

13. If the office has a lot of background noise such as talking or the whine of a high speed drill close by, this can affect the business coordinator’s hearing and can cause strain as she/he struggles to hear the caller. Having a phone with adjustable volume will help lessen the stress.

14. Being able to take restroom breaks is important for the health of the business coordinator. Oftentimes the level of activity makes it difficult to leave the desk, especially if the restroom is out of the office or down a long hallway. Make sure it is understood that other team members must pick up the phone should the business coordinator be away from the desk.

All of these preparations allow for the business of dentistry to run smarter not harder, and with better comfort for all who work in the business office. For excellent office systems and business efficiency, call us today for more information about dental business training for your team.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’sTraining Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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