Monday, November 17, 2008

Muda Monday - waiting at the dentist

If you read this blog regularly, you probably know that I had a root canal in the last few weeks. I am happy to report that my two trips to the dentist were a success...and during this recently concluded political season, the phrase, "Drill baby drill!" took on an entirely new meaning for me. Although my switch to Dr. Goldsmith has reduced my gas expense and travel time to a 4 minute walk from home, my wait time in the lobby has greatly increased. It is nice that they have a really nice big screen TV in the lobby, but I could have spent my time better doing something else other than watching Martha Stewart. This practice may help the office juggle patients and keep them pacified while they sit, but it represents a complete waste for me. I measured the wait time and here is what I discovered:

Visit #1 40 minute wait

Visit #2 45 minute wait

First of all, let me just say that I really like Dr. Goldsmith and his staff. I believe that the quality of care is outstanding. However, the questions has to be asked: Why the wait? About a month ago, my son reported waiting for almost two hours when he has his six month appointment. These wait times represent a huge customer dissatisfier and should not be tolerated. One of my co-workers recently told me that she waits no more than 20 minutes before she walks out of any appointment. So in the brave new world of 21st century healthcare, the customer is king! Waiting is one of the seven wastes that should be eliminated and that costs money and causes customers to take their money elsewhere. So, I offer the following suggestions to reduce wait time.

1) Map the process of seeing patients at the dentist office.

2) Identify the root cause that prevents patiences from being seen.

3) Start measuring the average wait time of patients in the office to benchmark progress.

4) Identify the waste in the process and eliminate it.

Other ideas:

  • Offer Wi-Fi in the lobby so patients can access the internet from their laptops.

  • Offer Ipods or music during long dental procedures.

On Muda Monday, let's get rid of those wastes. In the coming difficult days of our economic downturn, using kaizen techniques will be even more important to improving business processes and profitability. Those that don't adapt and get more efficient will simply go out of business. So, go find the muda and remove it. When you do, you'll make more money and keep your cusomters happy...and not blogging about their excessive wait times!

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

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