Ensuring Exceptional Care through Random Quality Checks
By Bartley Bell, D.D.S., & Dr. Katherine Schrubbe
Each time you come to Dental Associates, you expect high-quality, personalized, and affordable dental care. From the moment the receptionist greets you, to when your dentist gives you final recommendations before you leave, everything we do is modeled around how we make sure you maintain the best oral health possible.
Of course, assuring our patients receive the highest quality of dental care starts with hiring only the best dentists and team members. But there are many others steps we take after hiring and training our teams to ensure that each patient receives the best care at each visit.
You might have seen your dentist or assistant typing notes into a computer during your appointment. These progress notes record appointment details that are stored in our digital health record system, and they are essential to ensuring your dental care is thorough and properly documented.
Ongoing Documentation of Your Oral Health
At your routine appointment for an exam and X-rays, there’s more going on than you may think. Not only does your hygienist clean your teeth and dentist check for cavities, but they also perform an oral cancer exam, evaluate the health of your gums, check to make sure your teeth are in proper alignment, and note any potential future issues. These findings are then meticulously recorded in your digital chart.
Dental Associates is accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC). This accreditation status validates that all our clinics are in compliance with the highest standards of health care. Still, we challenge ourselves to set higher limits, and in turn, we perform chart audits.
Assuring Quality with Chart Audits
A chart audit, also referred to as a patient record audit, is a behind-the-scenes evaluation of the patient record and its compliance to standards of care in audit criteria. In other words, a chart audit is designed to ensure that our team members are taking the most thorough and accurate notes possible each time you visit our clinics.
Here’s how a chart audit works:
- We select a chart at random to review. As a minimum, we inspect about five charts per six months for a seasoned dentist, and about ten per six months for a newer dentist.
- We perform a thorough review to ensure that our dentists cover all areas of an exam and then adequately record their findings. We also make any recommendations for how the dentist can improve.
- Then the notes are immediately sent to the dentist, who can respond to the notes and recommendations as needed. They then use these results to further enhance their charting in the future.
What Do We Do with the Findings from Chart Audits?
We can use the results from chart audits in two ways:
First, since we can assess what’s happening to a patient by reviewing their chart, we use the results to improve our quality of care. Chart audits are completed to assess patient care without the patient present and give an in-depth view of that patient record.
Next, and equally important, we use chart audits to improve our dentists’ performance. By monitoring patient records, we’re able to identify any areas for improvement and provide our dentists and their teams’ specific strategies to improve their patient care.
Why We Do Chart Audits
Chart audits hold our doctors and their teams accountable for doing the right thing for their patients. With better charting and reporting, we are able to ensure a more detailed account of each patient’s visit, treatment plan, and progress notes from the doctor.
All patient records are kept in confidence and in compliance with HIPAA, as patient privacy is our utmost concern. Chart audits are an internal quality improvement process designed to discover and implement better a patient experience; the results are never shared with anyone but the provider.
Although you may think that chart audits do not affect you because they’re behind-the-scenes, they greatly impact you and your family’s dental care for the better. Here’s why:
How Will I Benefit From Chart Audits?
We invest the time and resources into conducting chart audits because, ultimately, they benefit our patients. In most cases, a smaller dental practice does not have the resources to perform chart audits.
Overall, we pride ourselves on providing high-quality dental care for patients of all ages. One way we do this, is to perform chart audits that measure our providers and staff and ensure they’re doing their part. It’s just one of the many ways we provide you and your family the very best dental care possible. It’s the Dental Associates difference.