Guiding your patients: How to minimize disinformation from online sources

One of the crucial roles of a healthcare provider is to ensure patient understanding, whether by dissipating false information for patients, or educating and explaining topics to patients. As of 2021, we are growing increasingly reliant on social media platforms and various websites for our social interactions, news consumption, and other major facets of our lives. While our growing connectedness via the Internet fosters an age of understanding, there are also more opportunities for spreading disinformation. Some statistics, tricks, tips, or other forms of media that may initially be harmless can be altered, or flat-out harmful practices can be shared. Some examples of this include skewed statistics, or “dental DIY” tricks that can cause repercussions.  

A concerning number of patients get their health-related news from scrolling through social media. Based on findings from Referral MD, 90% of surveyed individuals between the ages of 18 – 24 indicated they trust health information shared on social media platforms.  

COVID-19 has resulted in a lot of misinformation and confused masses. Different municipalities, locations, and sources have varying regulations and protocols, and many people are unsure of what is safe and unsafe anymore. Fortunately, your dental practice’s team can work to minimize confusion in your patients by utilizing emails, social media platforms, and in-person appointments. Keep reading to find out how to utilize these three methods to benefit your patients. 

Opportunities to educate your patient-base: 

1. Emails  

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  • Use emails to your office’s advantage by reminding patients of what they can expect when they come to their appointments. For example, if your waiting area is closed, remind your patients to wait in their car, or be prepared to wait outside. Remind patients of necessary pre-appointment duties, such as filling out a pre-screening form, and wearing a mask. 
  • If your office participates in patient newsletters, consider adding a portion dedicated to sharing accurate information and facts for relevant topics.  
  • Using a messaging software that lets you send automated emails with areas for personalization is a great way to connect to patients on a large scale, while also remaining time efficient. 

2. Social media 

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  • We have touched on the ways you can use social media in previous blogs, such as encouraging healthy habits, and keeping up patient relations during lockdowns. 
  • Using social media prevents can help prevent harmful trends from occurring in your patients, depending on your practice’s following. Keeping on top of “dental DIY” trends and similar patterns can help your practice make relevant social media posts, as well as guide followers, and your patient base, in the right direction. 
  • Ensure that any information you post is appropriate and truthful. This may go without saying, but sometimes, unclear information can be misinterpreted, which can result in further confusion. 
  • Try to keep any posts simple, clear, and most importantly, trustworthy. Getting your information from reputable sources (such as collegiate institutes, trusted healthcare providers, government websites, etc.), or using your own knowledge as a dental professional, are good practices for ensuring you are doing your best to mitigate disinformation. 
  • Share useful information from trusted sources (examples above) as resource hubs for your patients.  

3. Appointments 

  • Encourage your patients to be aware of ongoing dental trends that tend to pop up every few years – for example, at-home whitening, at-home “braces”, etc. In addition to just being aware, patients should also know the dangers associated with participating in these trends, and the damage they could cause to their mouth and overall health. 
  • Be aware that younger patients may feel inclined to try these trends more than older patients, generally. Younger patients may not know these trends are as harmful as they seem. 
  • Answer any questions your patient may have, and if they indicate that they are interested in specific cosmetics (I.e., bleaching treatments), be sure to educate your patients on the dangers of at-home treatments. Any way you can educate your patients about the best practices for continuing their oral hygiene at home is valuable and will help mitigate disinformation. 

3 Tips for Dental Receptionists in 2021

The role of the dental receptionist is a complicated one, and it differs from office-to-office. There are varied job descriptions, tasks, and duties established by each practice. Something consistent, however, is that dental receptionists are always on the “front lines” in a practice. Fielding patient and team inquiries, managing patient issues, and keeping all records organized are just some of the tasks receptionist’s handle. For many prospective patients, receptionists and front-desk workers are the face of the practice.  

In 2019, we wrote about things every dental receptionist needs to know for maximum patient satisfaction, efficiency, and organization. With COVID-19’s implications on the dental industry, we thought it was time to update our list to address current social issues that you may encounter in your practice. In this blog post, we discuss the top three things to know as a dental receptionist in 2021.  

1. Remain adaptable  

Adaptability, even in ordinary circumstances, is a valuable skill in reception. As mentioned in our previous blog on this topic, receptionists are the first to greet patients and the last to see them out. Being such an integral part of the team, front office team members must be able to adapt to new technologies, organization systems, and communication approaches. For instance, many dental practices have adopted digital communications, especially since lockdowns minimized dental appointments. Using texting software to send automated or ad-hoc messages may require an adjustment period but adapting to new (and often more efficient) systems ensures that your office remains ahead of the technological curve.  

Patients can keep you on your toes, especially if they are particularly apprehensive about receiving dental treatment or care, or if they are very thorough and inquisitive. Some patients may require more in-depth responses, or even an approach that you do not normally use. The ability to adjust your approach to different situations is highly valued in this position, as unique individuals can raise issues in your office that can’t always be solved with a generic solution or a solution developed during more normal times.  

2. Look ahead to fill your schedule  

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Under the best of circumstances some patients will look for excuses to avoid proceeding with dental treatment, whether it is for financial concerns, dental anxiety, or other reasons. COVID-19 added another reason for patients to delay their treatments. With all the mixed messages from official and unofficial sources, and changes in guidelines over time, cuments released , many patients are legitimately confused about whether it is safe to visit their dentist for regular appointments, and when they can see their dentists.   

With vaccinations being rolled out worldwide, receptionists are looking ahead. While still taking the necessary precautions such as spreading out the waiting area (or making patients wait outside/in their cars), leaving gaps between appointments, and using paperless forms, receptionists should continue reaching out to patients who need recare appointments. Call lists, email lists, and contact sheets can result in a lot of manual work, especially if the lists are long, and perhaps growing longer. Having a system or tool to help you quickly send many messages at once helps your front-desk team when working to fill the schedule months in advance. For example, ABELDent’s Treatment Manager is built-in to our LS, CS and LS+ software. Whether you use a system is as simple as a customizable email template and manual sent emails, , a more efficient, built-in recall manager, or a third-party application that helps with recall management, such a solution can help to keep you organized and on track during these especially challenging times.    

Looking months ahead helps you in the long-run by having a structured schedule month-by-month, as well as keeping patients’ recare appointments on track for their own health. Scheduling appointments early will help you to uncover patient concerns that can then be addressed in advance to establish patient commitment. Getting patients back on track will be a big job, but booking appointments and dealing with patient concerns early will reduce the likelihood that you will be scrambling at the last minute to fill a providers’ column or day.  

3. Practice professional empathy  

In 2020 and 2021, thes impact of COVID-19 on organizations resulted in large number of layoffs and heightened Canada’s unemployment rate. Financial troubles will undoubtedly reduce the priority of dental treatment for some patients. While there may not be anything your office can do in some of these cases, providing a professional, empathetic tone may make an enormous difference when communicating with upset patients. Professional empathy can be conveyed through word choice, tone of voice, and body language. If you are communicating virtually, using keywords and phrases such as “we understand” can help to diffuse anxiety caused by financial concerns.  

The importance of empathy extends past financial concerns. Ashton College highlights the difference that using empathy has in a difficult situation with a patient or even a team member. Additionally, being able to understand another perspective will aid you when problem-solving, strengthening the quality of patient care.  

These three tips are just a few of many things dental receptionists should know to maximize their office’s potential in 2021. With tools and technologies evolving, the dental industry is getting more efficient while simultaneously becoming more complicated for new hires. Going forward, we look forward to speaking more on this topic and providing content that helps your entire dental team. 

Why Cyberattacks Have Risen During COVID-19, and How to Protect Your Practice

As mentioned in previous posts, the COVID-19 pandemic opened the door for increased cyberattacks of all kinds. With many of our interpersonal communications moving online, hackers and criminals are continuously finding new ways to compromise our cybersecurity, and by extension, access our personal information. This problem goes beyond our personal devices, however, as healthcare-providers are a major target due to the valuable information that is kept on file. With countless breaches, ransomware attacks, and lost data, healthcare providers are turning to off-site backup services to ensure their patient and office data is safeguarded from threats.  

Dan Lohrmann wrote an insightful blog post covering the various topics under the umbrella of cybersecurity amidst COVID-19. Lohrmann summarizes that as much of the workforce shifted to a remote, virtual mindset, cyber criminals began taking advantage of the shift while most people remained in an adjustment period. In April 2020, WHO reported a higher number of cyberattacks on the organization’s staff, for example, via email scams. Lohrmann lists the many news articles that connect the vulnerability that the pandemic brought, with the increase in online criminal activity

While we have largely become used to regularly using virtual means for work, education, and socialization, cyberattacks still pose a massive risk to us. 

What does this mean for dentists? 

Your dental practice’s information is highly valuable to a hacker. Patient information, financial records, or even staff records can be used for malicious purposes in the wrong hands. While most of your work is done in-person, your computers can be compromised by something as innocent-seeming as an email. To ensure your data is safe from cyberattacks going into the future, ensure your team members are properly trained in cybersecurity. Social engineering, phishing, and vishing are all terms that your front-desk staff should be aware of. In addition to this, it is best practice to review and update this training at least yearly, and when there are staff changes or other major changes in your practice or more often if needed. Cyberattacks evolve as new technologies become implemented, meaning that your team needs to know what to look out for as hackers adjust their tactics. 

Another way you can protect your practice’s data is by keeping all computer systems, platforms, and software that your practice uses up to date with the latest versions. We spoke more in-depth on this in a previous blog post, but to summarize, software and system updates patch any insecurities that hackers may have found in between updates. These updates also are ever-improving security measures, so keep cybercriminals at bay by making sure your systems are not out-of-date. 

In addition to making sure hackers can’t cause any damage from the start, always have a backup plan in case of the worst possible scenario. If your office lost data, your practice could be significantly impacted for days, maybe even weeks, or even permanently, depending on the type and severity of the attack. Make sure your practice data is regularly backed up, either locally or in a cloud server. All practice data should be backed up, including all patient records, financial information, schedules, etc. Having a backup ready in case your office experiences the worst-case scenario saves you hours of distress in trying to get that data back or dealing with the repercussions if it is lost for good. 

In summary, prioritize your practice’s data security by: 

  1. Ensure your staff has up-to-date cybersecurity training regularly. 
  1. Keep your software, computer system, and all platforms up-to-date. 
  1. Back up your practice data regularly – either remotely (such as ABEL RBS, a remote backup service using cloud technology), or locally. 

Scaling Back and Preparing for What is Ahead

The end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 has been a difficult time for everyone with COVID-19 cases steadily rising throughout December and January. With lockdown continuing in various areas, we are turning our focus back to making the most of your practice’s downtime and preparing for the future influx of patients.  

While the first province-wide shutdown did not alter the scope of dental services, Ontario’s current stay-at-home order has resulted in many dental offices scaling back once again to taking in fewer patients than usual.  RCDSO urges dental offices to take additional precautions when providing care to patients. For instance, deferring non-essential appointments to a later date or offering remote appointments for these cases as a precaution to avoid the risk of in-person contact. 

While dental appointments are minimized, there are still opportunities for your team to participate in online training, e-learning, and other important tasks that help maintain your practice. During your office’s downtime, your team can learn how to use your practice management software more efficiently, especially new hires that still need to get used to your software. ABELDent users can use ABELDent Mastery, for example. There are also webinars and online courses you and your team can take to help maintain best practices, and even to earn potential CE credits. 

We have compiled our blog posts throughout the past year as a resource bank for our readers. To read more in-depth about some of our tips for making the most of your office’s downtime, please see our list: 

At ABELDent, we are continuing to support dental professionals by working from home. We are hopeful for the future and are still available 24/7 for any of your dental software needs. 

Why Should You Use Patient-Facing Features in Your Practice?

What is ‘patient-facing’?  

Patient-facing systems are tools that provide patients with the opportunity to actively engage with their healthcare practitioners virtually. The dental industry has been evolving towards patient-facing solutions in recent years by implementing auto-scheduling, downloadable forms, and live chatting functionalities. The demand for these systems and methods have escalated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Practices are incorporating patient-facing solutions because patients can easily interact with dental providers or access resources online. Patient-facing systems are accessible, simple solutions that prove useful for a variety of reasons. For instance, the touchless aspect of online solutions reduces face-to-face interaction and the sharing of paper, pens, or devices, thereby minimizing COVID-19 related health concerns.  

Makes open communication between dentist and patient easier, faster, and more accessible 

Clear communication is a crucial aspect of dentistry. Ensuring patient understanding, as referenced by CDA, results in increased patient satisfaction, increased procedure efficiency, and fewer negative experiences and reviews.  

Patient-facing features provide patients with the opportunity to share information more easily via online resources to learn about their treatment. This also allows patients to actively participate in virtual care. Some examples include patients filling out consent forms prior to treatment, completing health history and COVID-19 screening forms, updating their standing patient form, and prefacing appointments with video consultations. These features ensure patients can gain a deeper understanding of their treatment prior to their physical appointment without having to be physically present in your office. Providing an online format for these tasks rather than in-person is convenient for patients, reduces COVID-19 concerns, and saves your practice a spare operatory. 

Provides a good opportunity for easing anxious patients 

Additional benefits of patient-facing features include the accommodation of safe (touchless), convenient, and fast communication between provider and patient to preface appointments. In addition to quick communication, virtual care allows the use of visuals the same way you would be able to show patients in your operatory how a procedure will go. Screen-sharing capabilities that are included in most video conferencing tools allow this, limiting the setbacks that an online consultation would have in comparison to a physical consultation. 

Pre-treatment appointments can be beneficial for patients who are apprehensive, as you can suggest patient calming techniques, discuss whether nitrous oxide is a viable solution for their needs, or discuss other options that may help to calm anxieties. Doing all this in an online setting benefits your practice and the patient, and helps strengthen the practice-patient relationship. 

Lightens the workload for your team and minimizes chances of manual errors 

Forms that are hard to read, faxed, or scanned to your office, or rushed can often result in team members interpreting information wrong and inserting incorrect information in a patient’s chart. Allowing patients to fill out their forms online eliminates these potential errors on your office’s end. Patients may still make a typo or fill in an area incorrectly, but these errors can easily be fixed in your office by editing the file. Removing the chances of your team members getting information wrong is a step in the right direction towards great recordkeeping. Additionally, allowing patients to submit their forms online allows your team members to be more productive with their time. 

Overall, patient-facing solutions are a great practical tool to have in your office, not just during health crises, but long-term. Many patients and practices, having been introduced to the benefit of these methods, will come to prefer and expect them.  

The various benefits mentioned throughout this blog post are reasons for investing in online solutions, which will prepare your practice for the upcoming decade when virtual care and patient-facing systems will be the norm. 

If you are interested in finding out more about ABELDent’s touchless patient-facing forms, we are available 24/7. Feel free to fill out our contact form below, or give us a call at the phone number mentioned below. 

Resources: 

Jensen, R. E., Gummerson, S. P., & Chung, A. E. (2016). Overview of Patient-Facing Systems in Patient-Reported Outcomes Collection: Focus and Design in Cancer Care. Journal of oncology practice, 12(10), 873–875. https://doi.org/10.1200/JOP.2016.015685 

3 Simple, Necessary Steps to Take for Data Security

Security professionals, financial advisors, and even government agencies suggest that in 2020, cyberattacks can be more devastating on a business than a natural disaster. If your office faced a cyberattack today, would you have a plan to follow to recover your valuable data? 

As dental software providers, one of our ongoing goals is to ensure dentists keep their practice data safe and secure, regardless of which software they use. Healthcare practitioners, such as dental providers, are always targets for cyberattacks because of each practice’s valuable information and records. While paperless recordkeeping boasts increased security for your practice records, it is crucial to keep in mind that data needs to always be safeguarded from potential threats. In this blog post, we have four simple steps that you can follow to ensure your dental practice’s data is sufficiently secured in the event of a cyberattack. 

Step 1: Keep your software and computers up to date 

Whether you store your dental records on an all-in-one practice management software or you use other options, chances are that the software you use rolls out regular software updates. Our first simple step to data security is keep your software updated. We have discussed the importance of keeping your software up to date in previous blog posts. To summarize, software updates provide users with the latest security to counteract potential threats, which are continually evolving. Additionally, these software updates fix bugs that could potentially lead to unprotected data.  

Along with software updates, ensure your computer platforms and operating systems are regularly updated as well. Updated computers and operating systems incorporate advanced security measures and bug fixes that are necessary to prevent the latest threats. For example, as of January 2020, Microsoft no longer supports outdated platforms such as SQL 2008, Windows Server 2008, and Windows 7. Since these platforms are no longer supported, the software no longer receives security fixes in automated updates, leaving the system vulnerable to viruses, spyware, ransomware, and other malicious threats. Although you may require a periodic investment to keep your system up to date, it is best to always make sure you are using supported versions of the technologies used in your practice.  

Step 2: Maintain proper user credentials 

In addition to keeping up with software updates, make sure your workstations’ passwords are private and strong enough to minimize threats. News stories, statistics, and testimonies can attest to the issues bad passwords can create for a businesses. For instance, 81% of hacking-related security breaches are caused by insufficient passwords. As shown through multiple studies, weak passwords can be the downfall of an entire organization. Not only can an outsider easily access your valuable practice data but, with poor passwords, a team member could access something they are not supposed to. 

How can you strengthen your password security? For starters, if you can, ensure each team member has their own secure login information to eliminate the risk of password-sharing and similar problems. Additionally, ensure all passwords are unique and strong; everyone should avoid using personal information in their passwords, such as their name or birthday, as these could be easy to identify for a potential hacker. General phrases such as “password” should always be avoided. Password specifications vary from source to source, but universally, almost everyone agrees on these general principles: 

  1. Keep your password long (recommendations vary, but generally 8-16 characters) 
  2. Use a mix of capitalized and lower-case letters 
  3. Integrate numbers and symbols into your password 
  4. Ensure passwords are periodically changed 

Lastly, to keep your workstations as secure as possible, passwords should change every few months. The passwords should also not recycle any words or patterns as a precaution. If you or your team members struggle to remember multiple unique passwords, consider using a password manager to keep track of everything. For more tips on how to create a strong password, read this article. 

Step 3: Backup your practice’s data 

Our third simple step for protecting your practice’s valuable data is backing up your data regularly. While you can do everything possible to protect your data in the event of a cyberattack, some things are uncontrollable. For example, natural disasters can cause devastating and irreversible damage to your practice’s servers if they are kept in your office. To ensure your practice data is as secure as possible, look into secure Cloud backups. Doing regular data backups not only prevents significant data loss if a cyberattack struck your office but also ensures your practice’s data is secured off-site. Microsoft Azure is an example of a Cloud solution, and it is the one ABELDent uses for Remote Backup Services. 

By checking off these three simple steps, you are taking the necessary actions towards securing your practice data.  

3 Reasons to Leverage Web Analytics as a Dental Practice

How well is your website contributing to your practice goals? Is there someone in your practice gathering information and taking action to improve your web presence? Who in your office has time to check data analytics? How would it benefit your dental practice? 

While there is a learning curve associated with navigating web analytics software, using this such a measurement tool can be very worthwhile for your practice. Once someone in your practice understands the basics of navigating and interpreting the information shown, you can make your marketing strategies and SEO more efficient and cost-effective. 

Web analysis software measures various aspects of your website, such as the number of unique visitors, pages within a website that are popular, and the length of time a visitor spends on a page. Analysis software also often collects data via cookies to form demographic reports about website visitors.  

Office administrators, dentists, or delegated team members can do regular upkeep on website data by using tools such as Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a popular choice because it is free. There are various alternatives to Google Analytics, as well. Once someone knows how to navigate and interpret the information that the data analysis tool collects, it can be a very efficient and worthwhile process for improving the impact of your online presence. Streamlining web keywords and SEO can save your office time when deciphering the presented data. 

If you are interested in using web and data analysis to position your practice for growth, read below to find out three compelling reasons for using these systems in your office. 

1. Pinpoint your prospective patients 

Having web analysis software attached to your website can help you learn more about who is visiting your website. Google Analytics, for instance, gathers demographic information about visitors on your website. In reports, you find out the age, gender, and interests of your visitors. Knowing who visits your website can help you understand where your practice is positioned online, and if you are marketing to your desired demographic.  

2. Have better plans for marketing your practice online 

Understanding which media are effective for your practice allows you to get the most value out of your advertising budget. Analytics software displays detailed reports of how people arrive at your website, how long they stay on a certain webpage, and whether visitors clicked specific buttons on your webpages. Understanding how you acquire website views signals the methods that are effective for your practice. For instance, if you get a lot of direct traffic (meaning people insert your website into their web browser on their own), your print media and other resources are likely effective at directing people to your page. If you acquire a lot of visitors from search engines, however, it may signal that using sponsored ads such as Google AdWords is more effective for your practice. 

Analytics software also allows you to see the breakdown of devices used to view your website. If your website displays strangely on mobile, and majority of your visitors are on your website from a mobile device, you may need to plan to revisit your web design. Seeing how long visitors stay on your webpage also tells a lot about how effective your design is and signals what visitors want to learn from your website by which webpages are most visited.  

3. Web analytics help you evaluate your practice’s online performance 

When you are conducting an evaluation on your practice via SWOT analysisPMBO, or another method, your website’s metrics are a great indicator of how your online presence is doing. Interpreting certain patterns in website visitors can suggest where your strengths and weaknesses are in terms of marketing your practice online. This can also provide useful insight into the techniques your practice utilizes the best from a business perspective. Lastly, the ability to catalogue and document this information into reports is an especially useful tool when measuring online growth and ad efficiency. Spending some time learning data analytics can help your practice if you are looking to get more out of online marketing. 

3 Ways Efficient Dentists Lead Their Practice

Leadership is one of the main cornerstones of a healthy organization. Many dentists own and operate their own dentistry practice, but some offices work as a conglomerate. Whether you are an office manager or a practicing dentist, knowing what to do as a practice leader will strengthen your team. This blog post delves into three ways to harness your leadership skills to promote and maintain an efficient dental practice. 

1. Foster a healthy workplace culture from the top-down 

Your practice’s workplace culture defines how your team members feel while working in your office, and by extension, how they behave. For instance, if they are too comfortable, team members may sometimes forget to maintain their professionalism in the office. If staff are uncomfortable in the work environment, however, they may behave rigidly or nervously, also negatively impacting their performance, and by extension, the quality of service given to your patients. Additionally, team members working in a thriving environment contribute to the office’s culture, often harmonizing with other team members.  

Fostering a healthy workplace culture is vital for maintaining a thriving dental team. Some pointers to take into consideration include: 

  • Make sure your practice’s mission statement is made clear to new hires from the very beginning. 
  • Encourage the behaviours you want to see in your office by setting an example. Employees tend to mirror what they see in the workplace. 
  • Reward team members and hold them accountable – providing constructive criticism as feedback maintains a safe work environment and provides room for growth for the team member. Remember to be fair and consistent when giving feedback. 
  • Be proactive with feedback, whether it is positive or negative. Providing no feedback may make existing problems larger in the long run and result in team members feeling unappreciated. 

2. Prepare your staff with problem-solving skills

As a practice leader, you are one of the people who decide how your office handles problems and how to mitigate problems. One aspect of preparedness is making sure your team members know the correct protocol when handling difficult situations or individuals. Educate your team members on what they should do or say if they encounter a problem with a patient, visitor, or co-worker. Guide your team members on the correct protocol for these issues. Preparing your team to face these situations with confidence dissolves tension when the time comes and may help prevent problems entirely.

While you can prepare your team as best as you can, there will always be a chance for unforeseeable problems to come up. While you won’t anticipate every issue that may occur, you can still prepare your team with diverse problem-solving skills, which are crucial when facing an unanticipated situation.

3. Provide resources and opportunities for learning 

Dental offices are symbiotic; the office’s front and back need to work in harmony to be efficient. Before this can happen, team members need to learn the best practices for the tasks associated with their roles. Aside from putting care into an initial training program for new hires, some other ways you can provide resources for your team include: 

  • Registering for CE courses as a group throughout the year 
  • Attending dental conferences (including virtual trade shows) – these shows have valuable educational material and CE courses for your team. 
  • If you recently updated or transferred a software or system in your practice, set aside some time for training the whole team on the new workflows. 
  • Sometimes, team members may need reminders on how to use equipment or software properly. For example, if someone regularly forgets to use a built-in charting system favoring leaving detailed notes, they likely need a reminder. Ongoing education is almost always required in the workplace. 

By providing the resources for your team’s ongoing learning, you set your team, and by extension, your practice up for success. Ensuring everyone in your practice is implementing best practices is a surefire way to maintain a team-centric attitude and foster office motivation. 

4 Reasons for Attending Dental Conventions

Dental conferences and trade shows are among the longest-standing traditions in the industry. Dental professionals, stakeholders, exhibitors, and various other guests attend conferences and trade shows commonly held in convention centres or hotels.  

The reasons for attending are different for everyone; some attendees may go for the continuing education (CE) courses; some want to expand their professional network, some for the social opportunities, while others may want to go for the experience. Depending on the location, these conventions often attract dental professionals from all over the world and foster connections between people associated with the industry. 

This year, several trade shows and conferences are being taken online due to health and safety measures. This unique format has been used in the last few months to facilitate connections while also prioritizing social distancing and public health. ADA’s Florida Dental Conference, for instance, is operating virtually this year. While this format eliminates the aspect of travelling to a new place, having a virtual conference creates an opportunity for attendees that otherwise may not have been able or willing to attend a physical exhibition. Additionally, scientists have found that in many cases, virtual conferences allow for better experiences for attendees and stakeholders due to more control for moderated discussions, more attendees, reduced carbon emissions, and lower travel expenses.  

This week’s blog outlines five reasons to attend dental conferences and trade shows, whether virtual or physical.  

1. Opportunity for CE credits 

As a known requirement for dental professionals, continuing education credits are often available from educational sessions or modules at conferences or trade shows. If you are looking for potential CE credits, be sure to do research on the sessions you sign up for to see if they are offered with the module.  

2. Outside insights & networking

Attending trade shows and connecting with new individuals allows you to learn about how other industry practices operate, which is useful in comparing your differences. Comparing your current practice’s business model with other dentists in the community is a great starting point when conducting a SWOT analysis of your practice. You can also learn why other professionals in the field may favour certain technologies or methods over others, providing you with a new perspective and ongoing appreciation of the industry. 

In addition to gaining outside perspectives, attending virtual and physical conferences provides an opportunity for networking with other professionals in the field. Along with meeting new people, new opportunities arise for potential practice changes, partnerships, retirement plans, and other chances to improve your practice in ways you may not have thought of before.  

3. Go for the experience

If you haven’t been to a conference in any capacity, attending one for your first time may not be what you expect. While physical trade shows in the past have been quite busy, with many having thousands of visitors, virtual conferences are a new ballpark. Despite this, there are still many reasons to attend an online trade show. For example, many vendors you may have inquiries for are set up for easy access with minimal wait times. Often, you may have an opportunity to privately message or reach out to a speaker that you have questions for. Lastly, if you missed a specific session or livestream, there are usually recordings (especially for sessions that you register for), whereas at a physical conference or trade show recordings may be limited. Of course, attending a physical trade show can be an exciting experience for the first time, to say the least. There are countless things to do, many vendors to talk to, and hundreds of potential new connections.  

4. Learn what is new in the ever-changing field of dentistry. 

The exhibit hall is a world of opportunity for conference attendees. Perhaps there has been a technology or vendor you have been interested in incorporating into your practice prior to attending the show. Whether virtual or physical, attending a conference is a great opportunity to talk to the companies that you think are interesting and may benefit your practice. There may be special pricing or additional benefits by seeking vendors out at these shows. Interactions with vendors at their booths tend to be more valuable, personal, and informative by giving you the chance to ask anything you may be wondering about the vendor.

3 Reasons You Should Keep Your Software Up To Date

In a Pew Research Center study on Americans and cybersecurity, roughly one out of ten people do not update their smartphone software at all. While ignoring software updates poses a major risk to the individual user’s security, a staggering number of people still choose to stay with the older version of the software. Why is this the case? 

Patrick Boblin writes on this issue in an article regarding the reasons people avoid updating their computers. Some of the reasons Boblin lists include compatibility issues, having a bad prior experience, and being comfortable with the way their system currently runs. One specific reason that stands out is that people don’t understand why they need to update their systems so frequently, and as a result, have less security. 

The reasons Boblin brings up go beyond computer or smartphone updates. Many users ignore software updates, especially if they seem tedious, or the changes are not adequately explained. In today’s blog, we want to emphasize the importance of keeping your software up to date, especially the software you use for your dental practice. 

Security 

First and foremost, software updates are created to maximize the user’s security. Technologies are always changing and unfortunately, so are viruses and other threats to your system. To stay up to date on the best security, it is crucial to update the latest version of any software you are using to keep your information protected. These updates provide the best possible defense systems to prevent cyber-attacks before they become a problem for your practice. 

Bug prevention and elimination

When software updates are published, the new version usually accounts for bugs that have been reported by users. Even if you or your team has not experienced any of the corrected bugs, updating to the latest version of the software eliminates the chances of that bug happening to you in the future. And if you have experienced one or more of the bugs, there is no need to continue to live with and negative impact. Updating your software frequently prevents both ongoing and potential frustration that can be the result of software issues.   

It’s best practice 

Making the most of your dental software’s capabilities is the best practice for your team and your patients. Continually updating to the most recent version prevents errors, maximizes your software’s capabilities, and simplifies your team’s workflow. Downloading the latest updates also means you are taking full advantage of your dental software and getting the full value out of the product that you use every day. 

Essentially, your software is continually updated to provide you with the best possible product to make your daily tasks more efficient and secure. It is beneficial to keep up to date on the latest developments for your security, as well as ease-of-use, whether it is your smartphone’s operating system or your dental practice’s scheduler.