Systems Failure Recognition

Episode 046

This Friday started out like any other until I realized we were running low on a key medication. How could this happen? Why did our system fail?

Check out episode 46 of Business of Dentistry to find out when we recognized the “hole in our game”, and how we plan to fix that hole so we don’t have this experience again.

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In our office there is one person who is the dedicated supply person, she checks our inventory on our disposable items and everything else so we can stay up and running. However, she doesn’t check the medications I use to sedate people, that’s done by our office manager. He price shops all of the medications so it made sense for him to take over the ordering of it as well.

But this left a “hole in our game”, which I discovered when I got all the sedation medications out of the drug locker i keep them in.¬† I saw in the locker that one of my go-to medications was in short supply. I could see I had enough to get through the day and the next day, but not much beyond that.

Thankfully overnight shipping is an option and we could shore up our medications before we would run out. But Paul, the office manager, was out for the next four days on vacation. So there was no one in the office to order for us.

This was entirely on me: I hadn’t checked the medication supply ahead of time. But instead of getting upset, I decided this would be a good test of our ordering system for the meds. If we had a difficult time ordering without Paul then I would know we would need to tweak our process. It’s similar to the Mac truck theory, something I heard on a podcast recently. The Mac truck theory goes like this: if a team member is hit by a Mac truck, how easily can you bring someone off the street and have them take over? How easy would that transition be?

I asked Destiny, the person who normally orders our supplies, to place an order for the medication and have it arrive by Monday afternoon. She agreed and I let her handle it; my team is innovative and great at troubleshooting without me.

She came to me later and said she ordered it, but we realized there was no system in place for how to do so. She checked Paul’s files to find a vendor and ordered from one who had the medication in stock. But I realized we probably overpaid, we didn’t have a list of preferred vendors and just went with whoever was available.

I also realized we wouldn’t know what to do if neither of them was in the office; I saw the “hole in our game”. We needed to have a written system in place so that anyone could order the medications, with or without Paul or Destiny.

I share this on today’s episode because you may have a similar issue in your office. Listen to episode 46 and take it as a good reminder to look for those holes, learn from them and put procedures in place. I’d love to hear if you found holes and what you did to fill them. Leave a comment below or send me an email after you check out this edition of Business of Dentistry!

Tweetable: Systems are key to running a smooth practice.

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