by Paul Levy

First posted on (Not) Running a Hospital on 12/7/2012

Passing through Jacksonville, FL, I took the opportunity to catch up with “the Lean dentist,” Sami Bahri, about whom I have written before.  Walking into his office, I was struck by this view of his waiting room.  This is a more or less typical situation.  Patients entering the clinic are immediately escorted into a treatment room.  Organizing a clinic’s work flow to produce an efficient treatment of patient flows is a direct result of Lean process improvements.  I joked with Sami that he should find some other use for this space, like starting a book store or something!

One of the things I like about this clinic is the practice of treating a patient for all of his or her needs during one visit.  Most of us go to dentists who require us to come back for a second visit if we have a cavity that needs filling or some other procedure that emerges from the cleaning and examination.  Not here.  If they find a cavity, they fill it on the spot.  The result has been a 24% reduction in the number of appointments at the clinic (for the same number of patients.)  Besides making life more convenient for the patients, the office has eliminated the make-work associated with second or third visits: scheduling, confirmation, extra cleaning of each exam room, billing and collection.

Sami and his staff are very proud of customers’ reviews on Angie’s List–all “A” grades.  Comments reflect the perspectives of patients.  They don’t know that this is a Lean clinic, but they do notice the aspects of customer service that result from the Lean philosophy:

This group is wonderful. Personnel are all low key.  I had a crown pop off.  No pain but they offered me a same day appointment if I wanted it.  Fixed tooth with the same crown.  None of this high-priced push for work you don’t need.  I can really get intimidated at dental office and I didn’t here.  My old dentist had retired and the new one was sell sell sell.

Thorough, professional and kind.  I was seen today and will be taking my children to this office also.

They are kind and compassionate.  They are all encompassing.  They will squeeze you in if you need them even if it is night.  You never seem to have to wait more than 10 minutes.  The staff is great and knows you by name.

There is not a single person there that I would not trust to provide 100% excellent service with skills, knowledge and compassion.