Chairside Efficiency Begins with the Chair

Sponsored by DentalEZ : The Efficient Clinician : By Mary Govoni, CDA, RDH, MBA

In the current economy, dental practices are much more in-tuned to creating efficiencies than ever before. Efficiency in delivering dental care to patients is one of the key factors in profitability for a practice. Although scheduling and financial systems also play a critical role, the configuration of the workplace (operatory) makes a great – but sometimes more subtle – difference.

Many years ago, Dr. Harold Kilpatrick, a renowned researcher in time and motion efficiency in dentistry, was reported to have said “the most uncomfortable person in the treatment room should be the patient.”  This has never been more true. This is not to suggest that we don’t make every effort to enhance the comfort of the patient, but the reality is if the team members – dentist, assistant and hygienist – are not comfortable when treating patients, their attitude and productivity suffer, particularly if they acquire musculoskeletal injuries as a result of working with less-than-optimal equipment.

The center of it all

In any dental operatory, the “center of the universe” is the patient chair. Many chair manufacturers emphasize the benefits of their chair design primarily on patient comfort. This is an upside-down approach. The members of the dental team are the ones who spend the most time in the treatment room; therefore their comfort is of the utmost importance.

The NuSimplicity patient chair from DentalEZ is a wonderful example of a chair design that truly has the dental team in mind. The ultra-thin back allows the operator (doctor/hygienist or assistant) to work easily from a 12:00 position behind the patient, with enough room to place their legs under the back of the chair. This is the most neutral posture for the operator and helps prevent them from having to straddle the back of the chair and lean in to see in the mouth. The head of the chair is tapered to allow the dental assistant to position him/herself close to the patient and also avoid excess leaning, which can result in back, neck and shoulder pain.

Virtually all of the features of this chair are designed with efficiency in mind, including the conveniently located control buttons near the headrest. The chair also has wireless controls and an airglide feature, that allows for optimal positioning of the chair. The height adjustment on the NuSimplicity provides maximum flexibility for treating patients, whether in the reclined position or if procedures are performed with the operator in a stand-up position. These may seem like simple things, however, they do have a significant impact on the ability of the team to work at their greatest efficiency with patients. If the team is comfortable when they are positioned correctly, they are able to complete procedures in a shorter amount of time, since they don’t have to stop and adjust their positions as frequently. Over the course of the work day, discomfort and stress from working with less-than-optimal equipment will take its toll on the team members.

This chair is a win-win for both the team and the patient. When the team is less stressed, the patient is more at ease. And the contour, arm rests and double-articulating headrest design of the NuSimplicity allows for maximizing patient comfort and positioning.

Efficiency and productivity truly do begin with the chair.

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