Storage in Your Dental Office

Storage in Your Dental Office

What is Your Storage Strategy?

Storage strategies have changed dramatically over the years in the dental practice. I have seen many extremes including putting full storage of every item in each operatory. This makes it nearly impossible to manage inventory, and can become unnecessarily expensive. You’ll be ordering more of a product, but you already own 3 boxes x 5 operatories which could potentially expire before the inventory in each op is fully utilized. Another extreme is to have almost nothing in the operatories and the assistants running back and forth for additional items you’ll need for each procedure from the one centralized storage location. Time motion studies show that when an assistant leaves the operatory to get something she is gone for 4-5 minutes and that is lost production time for you. If you multiple that 4 minutes out by 8 times in a day that 32 minutes is time for another entire procedure to be performed.

The way products are stored impacts your efficiency and the bottom line. The best way to stock the office is to have 3-4 days of supplies in the operatory organized by procedure in tubs. Think of the storage tub as a removable drawer for a specific procedure like a composite restoration. Every supply needed to perform that procedure, right down to the articulating paper, is always in the that tub. When setting up the op for a given procedure simply place the appropriate tub on the assistant’s work surface and remove the materials needed. Keep the tub on the work surface covered so you can retrieve additional materials if needed during the procedure without de-gloving, going into a drawer, or leaving the room to find an item that might have been forgotten.

By keeping one of each of the procedure tubs in the room you can easily pull down another tub if your procedure changes during the appointment. Digging through drawers to set up rooms and being ill prepared for what might arise with a patient in the operatory is not an ideal time and materials management system. Because the procedures are repetitive, and very similar case to case, the tub system will enable you to do the same thing each time, professionally and proficiently, to optimize the care you deliver to your patients.

Procedure tubs are replenished in a central stocking area-separate from sterilization. Materials are removed from boxes and placed in ten restocking bins. Acrylic doors make the area more attractive and conceal from view all the stock items you’d have on hand at any given time.

Instruments can be stocked the same way so you can quickly access the appropriate kit and perform procedures with the assurance that all you might need is in that tub. Be sure to monitor the quantity of items you place in the tubs. You don’t need 50 of anything in the tub just a 3-4 day supply. Your Patterson TR can work with you to place a re-order barcodes on each bin to further maximize convenience and efficiency. Let’s work together to evaluate your space and plan a makeover for your office that will allow you to implement a cost saving and convenient storage management system in your practice!