Dr Mark Hassed

At a practice I visited recently the staff worked on average from 7.30am to 6.30pm, sometimes later, often without a full lunch break. Even though they are very skilled and dedicated I could tell how tired and stressed this was making them.

They couldn't do simple things like plan to go to the gym after work because they never knew how late they were going to finish.

It also causes problems with patients. Many people get stroppy when they are not seen on time.

The reason for running late is that the dentist is undisciplined with respect to time. The dentist knows about the problem but time is not something they keep track of.

If your office is undisciplined with respect to time, here's a solution to try.

Every member of the team carries two pads of post-it note in their pockets – 1 pad of yellow and 1 pad of pink.

When the dentist has 5 minutes to go with a patient a team member puts out a yellow post-it note somewhere the dentist will see it – say on the side of the bracket table.

When time is up and the dentist needs to move on to the next patient a team member removes the yellow and replaces it with a pink.

Also, if the dentist is about to embark on some treatment that a team member knows will run late then they are entitled to put out a pink post-it as a warning.

The constant subtle reminder of time can work wonders on even the most recalcitrant dentist.

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