Enhance Your Practice Management Software with Integrated Third-party Applications and Services

“Are there other things that dental software should do beyond practice and clinical management?” When asked that question my general response is; “there are other functions available that, with varying degrees of integration, work synergistically with dental practice management software to increase your return on investment – it’s just a matter of deciding what your practice priorities are”.

This blog first reviews several of the most common third-party applications available for dental practices. It then explains the two main integration scenarios for linking third-party applications to practice management software.  

Imaging Software

Most practice management software solutions have a feature for capturing and storing diagnostic images from intra-oral and digital cameras. Some systems also connect to various digital radiography devices such as sensors to capture x-ray images and provide basic tools for enhancing the diagnostic capability of the images.

If you require advanced features, third-party imaging solutions are available that via an integration, can be launched directly from within the practice management software so that the same patient is opened within the imaging software. If choosing this option, make sure that the integration can be preserved if you decide to move to a cloud server-based practice management system.

Integrated Payment Card Processing

This application saves time and reduces errors since payment card transactions entered in the practice management software are automatically fed to the Point of Sale (POS) terminal. Once the transaction is approved it automatically updates the patient ledger. Day end and month end bank reconciliation becomes much easier.

Reputation Management

In today’s marketplace, positive patient reviews are essential for attracting and retaining new patients. Reputation Management applications can help acquire, monitor and manage patient reviews to maximum effectiveness. They have built-in mechanisms to drive patients to leave positive patient reviews on popular review websites sites such as Google, Facebook and RateMDS. And easy, anytime access equips you to respond to unhappy patient reviews in real time, and showcase your best reviews on your website or social channels.

Advanced Reporting & Business Productivity Tools

Are you dissatisfied with the reports your practice management system produces? By using tools such as Microsoft’s Power BI or exporting report data to Excel you can expand your reporting capabilities exponentially depending on the degree of access you have to your dental practice database. Contact your dental software vendor to find out whether they can help.

Remote Backup

Ransomware, natural disasters and the failure or theft of your office’s computer network can be catastrophic for your practice. Your best protection is a remote backup service that automatically backs up your data on secure cloud servers so that you can be back and running quickly with recovered, up to data practice data if disaster strikes. Even if you are currently accessing your dental practice data from the cloud, you may still require remote back up services for any of your files that remain stored on local computers in your office.

Data Security Tools

Virus protection software is essential for catching known viruses and preventing them from causing harm to your dental software and other programs. However, without additional measures, you remain vulnerable to new viruses and malware that can take over your system. Data security applications such as ABELDent Guard block abnormal processes caused by these viruses so that they don’t harm your system before your antivirus software runs an update to eliminate them.

What you should know about the two main types of integrations

  1. Integrations developed by the dental practice management software vendor with the full cooperation of the third-party software vendor are your safest bet.  These types of integrations ensure safe, secure and reliable communication between the two applications.
  2. Unauthorized integrations created solely be third-party application vendors that directly read and update information in the dental practice management software’s database may present a privacy and security risk to your data. The dental practice management software vendor will likely not want to take responsibility for any data breach that may result and may advise users of these types of applications to use them at their own risk. These integrations are also vulnerable to breaking anytime the practice management software is updated to a new version.

Automated Patient Communication

By far the most common unauthorized third-party application available to dental practices today is Automated Patient Communication. These systems save administration time and help boost revenue by sending customized patient messages in a batch via email, text or voice mail. Common messages include appointment notifications, appointment confirmation requests and outstanding treatment notices. Patients can respond from their smartphone or other devices and typically have their e-calendars automatically updated. Benefits include patient convenience, reduced administrative costs, reduced no-shows, increase booking rates and improved patient engagement.

It should be noted that some practice management software systems include many of the features of third-party applications as part of their overall solution with the advantage of having full and safe access to the patient database for retrieving and updating the required information.  This eliminates the risks factors mentioned when using a third-party integration for accessing information from the practice database. Although third-party vendors may offer dedicated, more full-featured solutions, they have limited access to the practice management system’s database without putting it at substantial risk. There are advantages and disadvantages to either approach – which one you choose will depend on your specific needs, your risk averseness and cost.  

Conclusion

There are several third-party applications that can be implemented in conjunction with practice management software to increase productivity, practice growth, savings and data security. The resulting benefit is generally proportional to the degree of integration offered. Finally, ensure that any integrated application you consider is stable, maintains data integrity when updates are applied and provides strong protection against data breaches.

The Art of Acquiring New Patients

No matter where I travel in Canada, the one thing most dental clinics I visit have in common is the desire to expand their service by reaching new patients.

According to Statistics Canada, only 75% of Canadians visited a dentist at some point in 2018 – which means that at least 25% of Canadians either don’t have a regular dentist, or don’t see their dentist annually.

While this might seem like a significant pool of potential patients for dental clinics to draw on, the same study reported that 22% of Canadians said they didn’t go to the dentist because of the cost (many Canadians are without insurance due to part-time employment, self employment or retirement.

In practical terms, this means that clinics are either competing for that narrow percentage of Canadians who can afford regular dental care but who don’t have a regular provider, or are trying to make the case that they can provide better care than their competitors. No wonder dental clinics are working so hard to attract new patients!

Patient acquisition under these circumstances can be difficult, and requires a strategic, targeted approach based on patient satisfaction and playing on your strengths. If you want to grow your clinic, here are four of the most effective ways you can distinguish yourself from the competition.

Patient Reviews

In the age of Yelp, patient reviews – and reputation management more generally – are the most essential tool a dental clinic has for attracting new patients.

In 2019, the vast majority of new patients used dental reviews as one of their primary ways of deciding which clinic to visit, and according to at least one study, for nearly a third of these people the star rating was the most important aspect of the review.

Here are just a few of the main benefits of growing your reputation:

  • Increased Revenue: Companies with a higher rating and better reviews will attract more business
  • Higher Trust: People trust brands and services (especially those in medicine and dentistry) that have the best reputations
  • Better Talent: Dental clinics with strong, positive reputations attract better staff

Clinics that take the time to develop and manage a strong reputation are trusted more because people tend to follow crowds. The more they see others leaning toward one option, the more likely they are to do the same.

You can call it the herd mentality or the “broken window” theory of customer choice. The fact is that 83% of people automatically trust brand recommendations that come from friends or loved ones, and almost 70% of people put more stock in the opinions of fellow consumers than traditional advertising campaigns.

A well-managed reputation enables your clinic to dictate the first impression it sets for prospective patients. It also highlights the strengths of your business and can counter any negative impressions. Finally, a solid online reputation solidifies your business as a thought leader and a go-to source for problem-solving within your industry, elevating you above the competition.

If you want to acquire new patients, you need to make sure that your practice is being reviewed positively online.

Social Media

Social media should be a core component of any modern advertising campaign, but using social media effectively is about more than just starting up a corporate Instagram account and Facebook page – social media is a ubiquitous part of people’s lives and leveraging it for maximal impact requires creativity.

If there are particular demographics you want to tap into – new parents, college students, or seniors, for example – you should consider using targeted advertising tools to make sure your ads reach the patients you want to impress.

Improved Follow-Through

One of the biggest challenges that any clinic faces is turning first-time and occasional visitors into loyal patients. Many Canadians in their twenties and thirties don’t book regular, annual appointments, but only visit the dentist when they notice a problem.

It is difficult to form a strong relationship with patients that you see less than once a year.  The longer any patient is away from your practice, the more likely it is that they will try another dental clinic when they need care.

For this reason, improving follow-through using modern dental software that helps you keep track of the people who come through your clinic is key if you want to turn these one-time visitors into long-term valued patients. Contact management tools available in dental software can also help you stay in touch with patients using their preferred methods.

Expanded Hours

Sometimes, to reach new people you need to change the way you operate. In the twenty-first century, when a growing number of people (and especially young people) are working irregular hours, healthcare providers who want to attract younger patients may need to adjust when they provide care.

For example, offering appointments in the early morning, evening, or weekend may be all you need to do in order to appeal to a new demographic of workers who don’t have the freedom to take time during for a dental appointment during the day.  

It is no secret that dentistry in Canada is an increasingly competitive marketplace. If you want to grow your clinic’s patient base or reach new demographics, you will need to be strategic about your approach to patient acquisition.

In my experience, the clinics best able to do this are the ones that utilize a number of different strategies.

A coordinated campaign that advertises the quality of care you provide and emphasizes the value you can offer patients will usually yield the strongest results. That’s why you should use a mix of digital strategy, cutting-edge software, reputation management, and accommodate the real-world needs of the patients you want to attract.   

Can Human-Focused Technology Change How Your Clinic Operates?

People are at the centre of any healthcare business – both as patients, and as a team of providers delivering care.

While technical concerns are common at a time when the dental industry is undergoing massive changes due to improvements in software and technology, one question I’m frequently asked is about the human side of things: “How can I make sure I have a good team who can provide sterling care, and how should I go about assessing my team’s effectiveness?”.

There are no quick technological fixes to improve how your team operates or to build a better clinic culture but technology can help you confront these problems. One of the best tech solutions available for unlocking the full potential of your team is Human-Focused Technology, or HFT.

Human-Focused Technology is a new approach to quickly gathering information about how and why people behave the way they do. It can help employers better understand their workforce and realize its full potential. 

If you want to optimize your team to better serve your patients’ needs, keep reading to find out how HFT can help.    

What is Human-Focused Technology?

If you pay attention to the latest news about workplace software, you’re probably familiar with the term “human-centred design” to describe approaches to software design that take the needs of human users into account from beginning to end. 

While Human-Focused Technology is similar, its uses are much more specifically geared toward helping employers optimize the skills and capacities of employees to create the best and most effective possible workplace – including dental clinics. 

This technology is based on a few fundamental insights, namely that: 

  • All humans have developed certain innate behavioural styles that govern how they do what they do
  • Behavioural styles arise from core motivators that determine why they do what they do
  • Traditional hiring methods use unreliable tools like resumes and interviews that don’t yield  information about styles and motivators and therefore cannot deliver optimal candidate selection results 
  • Technology can play a role in helping us determine every individual’s behavioural style and core motivators

Using a few basic tests, Human-Focused Technology can save companies huge amounts of time by providing high-level information about the styles and motivators of everyone on their team, thereby making it easier to understand core dynamics in your workplace culture. 

The Role of HFT in the Hiring Process

Unsurprisingly, the first applications of Human-Focused Technology have been in the hiring process. Because HFT provides more reliable information about how a potential employee will actually operate in the workplace, it makes it a lot easier for to find the right people the first time around. 

Rather than relying on traditional hiring techniques such as lengthy interviews and over-hyped resumes to find the best candidates for your dental clinic, using human-focused hiring techniques allow you to identify employees to join your team long-term.

Human-focused personality tests can help you to help cut through facades and biases, showing clearly whether an applicant possesses the personality traits essential to helping you run your clinic by identifying soft skills that can’t necessarily be trained, including:

  • Flexibility – this is an extremely valuable asset to any dental clinic. People who are able to adapt to any situation are going to be dependable and able to perform no matter what’s thrown their way.
  • Creative thinking – being able to develop unique solutions to problems as they arise is an invaluable tool, as it drives innovation while increasing efficiency.
  • Feedback acceptance – a major key to fostering growth in any workplace requires the ability to not only accept feedback gracefully but also to apply that feedback going forward.

Because of their effectiveness, HFT tests are an increasingly standard part of the hiring process in a variety of industries and may join other basic technologies like cloud storage and reputation management software as essential tools every dental clinic needs. 

According to one recent report, employee turnover rates are one of the top concerns for employers across the healthcare industry. Turnover costs clinics and hospitals countless hours and millions of dollars in lost revenue every year, and bringing turnover rates down requires addressing the root problems in your workplace culture. 

Fortunately, Human-Focused Technology is perfectly designed to help you improve retention rates by hiring the right candidates and reaching a better understanding of the deep needs and underlying dynamics of your current employees.   

How HFT Helps You Understand Your Team

HFT can help you understand the personalities, needs and habits your current employees bring to the workplace. 

Most workplace conflict happens due to misunderstandings between people with different behavioural styles and different core motivators. Unfortunately, the root causes of these disagreements are often obscured by the day-to-day conflicts around which they play out. 

As an example, it may seem as though your hygienist and your receptionist disagree over how to handle last-minute cancellations. One may consider building relationships most important and so takes a more social approach with patients while the other is task-focused and insists on a more direct approach. In reality, both are motivated to keep the chairs full and both inform the patient that a cancellation fee may apply so the seeming “conflict” is actually a difference in communication styles. 

In summary, HFT helps make deep motivations and behaviour patterns legible, it can help you map out the true dynamics of your workplace, and help your team find better ways of communicating and working together.

3 New Year's Resolutions Every Dental Clinic Should Make

With 2019 almost over, many of us are looking back on the past year and thinking about what we are proud of – and what we wish we had done differently. 

I always find the end of year holidays a perfect time for reflection. With everything slowing down, and with time away from work giving much-needed perspective, it’s easier to gain a sense of perspective on the triumphs and challenges that have come and gone. Inevitably, these thoughts of what has passed lead to thoughts about the year to come. 

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New Year’s resolutions are a great way to explore goals and aspirations for the coming year, and this applies just as much to business life as it does to personal life, so if you want to start 2020 on the right foot, here are a few dental-clinic related resolutions to consider making.  

1. Streamline Your Communications

Communication – whether with patients, prospects, or between team members – has always been part of the essential everyday work of dental clinics around the world, and so keeping up with changing patterns in how we communicate in the healthcare industry is essential. 

But good communication is about a lot more than just making sure you are texting people rather than calling them. Smooth internal communication protocols are essential for any dental clinic, and using a software platform that provides an integrated way to share information and update key team members is going to be a big part of that in the coming years. 

The right communication platform will centralize the communication features your clinic uses every day, which can help you save time and reduce chaos and confusion. Keeping an archive or a history of your clinic’s communication, patient contact info, and even account balances all in one place means you won’t need to purchase a number of different software platforms, or have multiple apps open all at once.

You can also use message templates to maintain a sense of consistency with your messaging, and save your communications staff vital time. The right communications management software can also help you schedule messages in advance, allowing you to automate a great deal of the work.

Introducing new tools and platforms will mean that your team needs to be on the same page, but it may also mean exploring new options staff-based communication platforms outside the office – like mobile dental applications that help your team access and send the information they need no matter where they are.  

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2. Make Your Scheduling More Patient-Centric

The days when patients picked up the phone when they wanted to book or reschedule an appointment are long gone. So, if you want to reach new patients in younger age groups, you need to make sure your approach to scheduling is calibrated to appeal to that tech-savy demographic who overwhelmingly prefer to be contacted via text or email. 

Understanding the importance of multi-channel communications is key, as some patients prefer to be contacted in different ways. Using a combination of text, phone, and email messages will allow you to maximize your outreach.

One of the best ways to develop more patient-centered scheduling is through dental appointment software that makes it easy to contact current and prospective patients using their preferred methods of communication. 

Not only will this help with patient acquisition and retention, it will also make it easier to ensure patients don’t fall through the cracks due to miscommunication.  

3. Upgrade Your Data Storage

One major concern that every dental clinic needs to be taking seriously these days is data storage. 

In the dental profession, we tend not to think of data as being at the heart of the service we provide, but the truth is that without data, it is impossible to offer high-level care. After all, how can you offer a useful prognosis to your patient’s oral complaints if you don’t have access to their medical history?

Dental clinics face two choices when it comes to their data: store it locally using on-site servers or upload it to the cloud. While storing information locally may seem easier – and in some cases, may be preferable – the cloud offers far greater security and convenience. 

The benefits of cloud-based data storage include:

Greater Accessibility and Usability

With cloud-based data storage (like Dropbox or Microsoft’s OneDrive), users can drag and drop – and then modify – files from anywhere, with no prior technical knowledge.

Disaster Recovery

Having a data backup plan is important for any business, but doubly so for a patient-based business like your dental clinic. Cloud storage creates a constant, real-time backup of all your important documents – including sensitive patient information, which can be recovered instantly from anywhere.

Reduced Cost

Internal power and resources associated with private servers are wiped clean with cloud storage. While cloud-based options will charge a usage cost, this basic fee is far less than the alternative.

If you want to enter the next decade with a modern data storage protocol that will meet the needs of tomorrow, look into some of the dental cloud server options that are available. 

Many things go into successfully running a healthcare business, but in my experience the ability to anticipate and prepare for upcoming challenges is one of the most important. 

As you reflect on the accomplishments of 2019, don’t forget that a whole new set of challenges is waiting for you around the corner in 2020. If you want to make sure you start the year strong, investing in improved communications, scheduling, and data storage software is one of the best places to start. 

Get in touch with ABELDent today to find out how our unique dental platform can help provide you with the integrated tools that will help your clinic flourish in the coming year. 

Why Good Design is Essential When Opening a New Dental Practice

When opening a new dental practice, it can feel like there are a million things to plan for and then actually get done.

Not only do you have to make sure that your equipment and staffing needs are met, you also need to secure financing, develop your marketing campaign and business plan, implement dental software and apply for necessary permits and licenses. All of this can make it hard to keep your eye on the big picture – creating a welcoming, streamlined service for your patients.

But when it comes to launching a new practice, ensuring that your clinic is well-designed should be at the top of your checklist for opening. In this article, I’ll explain why.

Good Design Shapes Everything

Design is one of those words that gets used so much and has such a broad definition that it can sometimes lose its meaning. And maybe this isn’t surprising, given that “design” is used to talk about everything from operatory workflow to what kind of light bulbs you use in your reception area.

I find that it is helpful to think about design – whether you’re talking about floor plan, lighting, or dental practice management software – in terms of how it enables you to meet your goals more effectively.

The difference between good design and bad design is specific to what you are trying to accomplish. There is no such thing as “good design” in the abstract: all dental office design should be based on helping you serve your patients better.

What to Consider When Designing a Clinic

So, if design is so important, how can you make sure your new dental practice meets the mark?

There are no one-size-fits all solutions, and what works best for you will depend on a number of different considerations, including:

  • The number of staff members you have
  • The number of patients you see every day
  • Any special equipment you may require
  • The physical constraints of your location
  • How you prefer to work
  • Enabling patient centric workflows

First and foremost, your design should help make your patients feel at ease. Fear of the dentist is one of the most common phobias, and creating a pleasant and comfortable space will go along way toward assuaging patient anxiety.

Here are a few general principles you can keep in mind when designing your clinic space:

  • Form should follow function (i.e., layout should reflect the needs of your staff and patients).
  • Patient safety should always be a major concern.
  • Design should create a sense of trust and comfort.
  • Always take your dental software system into consideration when designing floor plans and workstations so you can maximize efficiency and plan appropriately for tech infrastructure.
  • Design should reflect your values and priorities. If your clinic serves a particular demographic (e.g. children), that should be reflected in your design decisions!

How to Find a Great Designer

While it is important to do some research into what makes for good clinic design, at the end of the day you shouldn’t expect to be able to do all the design work yourself.

Instead, you should put your energy into finding a dental office designer you can work with, someone who understands your needs and knows how to make your unique vision a reality while also putting their own expertise at your service.

Look for a designer who understands these basic principles of design:

1. Designing with real life in mind

During the design process, ‘space planning’ should come first. This includes defining staff and patient circulation patterns, blocking out important spatial areas, and planning placement of both furniture as well as equipment. Space planning early in the design phase will create efficiency at every iterative step afterward.

2. Have thorough knowledge of materials and construction

The quality of construction and the materials used have a considerable effect on how a patient will experience a finished room. The cost of the materials is not as important as durability. When budgeting, it is prudent to remember that the best materials should keep the space looking fresh for many years.

3. Juxtapose contrasting design elements

By combining different shapes, patterns, and textures, the interplay of one can enhance the innate properties of another. Visual value comes from the interaction of several design principles woven together.

Of course, most designers bring a keen eye, and when designing for a specialty space such as a dental clinic, you’ll need to look out for more than just competence. When looking for a designer, here are some of the most important things to consider:

  • Experience in Healthcare: Designing a clinic isn’t like designing a standard office space, so make sure you find someone who understands the unique needs of a dental practice – in particular, functional room requirements and typical procedural workflows
  • Ability to Work as Part of a Team: Your designer will have to work closely with equipment specialists, dental planners, and contractors.
  • A Safety-Conscious Approach: Over the past few years has been increased attention to the importance of creating a safe environment for dental patients and that also meets requirements for effective infection control. Make sure any designers you opt to work with understand the importance of this, and can incorporate safety features into their plans.
  • Long Term Thinking: You want a work space that can change and evolve over time. Make sure you work with a designer who can help you create a dental clinic that can serve your needs and the needs of your patients for years to come.  

There’s a popular saying among designers that good design is invisible. If something has been well designed, it will be so intuitive and easy to use that you won’t even think about it. This is definitely true for dental clinics. A clinic where everything is in its right place will provide a comfortable and welcoming space for your patients, and make it easy for you and your staff to focus on what you do best: providing them with the best healthcare possible. 

4 Ways Dental Clinics Can Improve Security Awareness

Most dentists I know have dozens of things to keep track of even on the slowest day, and it’s not surprising that cyber security is often far down the list of concerns of the clinics that I talk to.   

Unfortunately, cyber criminals seem to be taking advantage of this situation: cyber attacks now impact hundreds of dental offices in the United States alone every year. In some cases, these attacks are so devastating that they cause clinics to close for an extended period while they prepare to start seeing patients again.  

Fortunately, protecting yourself from common forms of cybercrime like phishing, malware, and ransomware is fairly straightforward, if you have the right software and a staff trained to recognize potential threats.  

Here are four ways you can improve security and training at your clinic this year.   

1. Make Cyber Security Part of Your Practice

We all have a tendency to believe that things like cyber attacks won’t happen to us. Psychologists call this the “optimism bias“. And while it makes it easier for us to go through life, it can also leave us vulnerable.  

Countering optimism bias requires that you train your workers to view cyber threats not as something that could theoretically happen, but as something they should be on the look out for every day.  

Normalizing cyber security routines that require weekly check-ins and following digital best practices are the first steps you should take to guide your staff to be more aware of the danger of cyber attacks.  

2. Help Your Employees Recognize the Risks

Phishing is a form of cybercrime in which targets are contacted through text, email, or by phone with the phisher posing as a legitimate institution. Phishing scams will take advantage of this familiarity in order to pry sensitive data such as banking and credit card info, passwords, or answers to security questions. 

Here are some of the most common signs that you might be dealing with a phishing scam: 

  • Requests for personal financial information 
  • Poor grammar and bad spelling 
  • Threatening language (e.g. “Your account will be closed if you don’t act now!”) 
  • Suspicious links (e.g. nonsense links, or links to misleading domain names) 
  • Unrecognized senders 

To avoid falling victim to phishing scams, be wary of messages that carry a false sense of urgency and ignore any links you may be asked to follow. Remember, your bank or any other professional institution will never ask you to login by phone or by following prompts other than the ones you’ve used in the past.  

You should also be aware that criminals are constantly developing new viruses and attack methods in order to continue to attacking the vulnerable. Cyber criminals have been using email as a vector for infecting computer systems with malware and ransomware for years, but they have also started to use social media apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, and iMessage to launch their attacks.  

Ransomware is a method of cybercrime where malicious software or malware is designed to deny a company access to their own servers or internal systems until a ransom is paid. Ransomware can be a follow-up attack to a phishing attempt and can be devastating for mid-sized, data-based companies like dental clinics. 

To avoid succumbing to this form of attack, be sure to continually update your computer Operating System (OS) and anti-virus software with the latest patches and do not click on links or open any attachments sent in unsolicited email. Most of us are fairly trusting and scammers use this behaviour against us by sending emails that can seem legitimate or harmless. Train your staff to recognize these warning signs, and report any unusual messages.   

3. Make Regular Backups Part of Your Routine

It’s not always possible to avoid cyber attacks altogether, so it’s also important to ensure that you’ll be able to bounce back quickly if the worst does happen.  

Dental clinics need to keep track of huge amounts of data, the loss of which can be absolutely disastrous. For this reason, you should make regular backups a mainstay of your routine.  

Look for sophisticated cloud storage solutions that automate backups and come with expert support, so that if the worst does happen, you’ll be ready to pick up where you left off.  

4. Use Software that Enhances Cyber Security Capabilities

When you’re looking for software solutions that can help you make cyber security easier and more efficient for your employees, you should look for tools that will mesh well and supplement your anti-virus software for additional protection. Solutions such as ABEL Guard (AppGuard with ABEL’s dental specific templates) prevents new viruses from harming your system until your anti-virus software is updated to eliminate those viruses. 

Also consider switching to a dental cloud server based platform that by default will provide maximum protection against cyberattacks since practice data is stored in and assessed from secure cloud servers – an added benefit is automated continuous data backups are always current should your practice data ever need to be restored for any reason.  

In conclusion:

It is best to be proactive and stay one step ahead of cyber criminals as much as possible. Make sure you have antivirus and additional security software for maximum protection as well as employed a cloud-based backup system to limit any negative effects should you be hit by an attack.  

During my time at ABEL, I have become convinced that a combination of the right tools and the right training can make all the difference when it comes to keeping your clinic safe from attacks. Get in touch with us today if you want to learn more about how we can help you improve your security and security awareness.  

5 Ways to Make Your Clinic More Child-Friendly

Of all the different kinds of patients that a dental clinic serves, perhaps none are as precious as children. This is true in terms of the opportunity for early intervention and the value these patients can bring to a clinic. 

Because appealing to children is also a great way to appeal to their parents, there are clear benefits to tailoring your service to this demographic. Some clinics even go so far as to use child centered service as one of the ways they manage practice differentiation – parents are much more likely to visit a clinic if it explicitly markets itself as being kid-friendly.

To make your clinic more open to children, here are five strategies that I have personally seen succeed in clinics across the country. 

1. Recognize the Unique Needs of Child Patients

Children aren’t like adult patients: not only do they have unique needs in terms of the dental care they require, they also have unique service needs. Making your clinic child-friendly starts with recognizing the fact that children need highly individual treatment.  

One  practical way you can accomplish this is by using dental software that allows you to quickly and easily store information about young patients’ needs so that it is immediately visible once an appointment has been booked.

This helps you provide great service and makes it easier for your receptionists and hygienists to prepare accordingly.

2. Provide Child-Specific Training for Staff

Getting your team to understand how the needs of children differ from the needs of adults is absolutely essential. And while your dentists and hygienists will have been trained on the technical aspects of caring for young mouths, treating children also requires training in how to relate to and communicate with them when they may not be able to respond in detailed or specific ways.

It’s essential when talking to children that you avoid using medical jargon to keep your words a simple as possible so children are more likely to understand you and feel encouraged to respond and communicate back in turn. However, you still need to use care when speaking with children because they may not be using their communication skills to their fullest out of fear of dental procedures in general. Quietly coax them into talking, showing them that there’s no reason to be afraid.

With older children, it’s important you do not treat them as babies, but rather as young adults as much as possible. Of course, you’ll need to consider the age of each child patient and adjust your speech to meet his or her needs.

Make sure also to keep your tone of voice measured and soft. Especially when you’re using tools that can sometimes be painful, a soothing tone of voice will do wonders for abating your child patients’ level of fear. Ensure that your entire staff keeps the collective tone consistent. This will help children understand that everyone is there to care for them and make them feel safe.

3. Appealing to Kids Means Appealing to Parents

Whether or not you retain a young family as patients will undoubtedly be influenced by the experience the child has – but the final decision will, of course, be made by the parent. This means that making your clinic more child-centered also means appealing to their parents.

You can accomplish this by creating a space that is welcoming and accessible and by providing parents the opportunity to book or reschedule appointments quickly – via mobile app or text, for example.

4. Use Positive Reinforcement to Reduce Dental Fear

As every experienced dentists knows, dental anxiety is an issue for patients of all ages. But it is a special concern when working with children, who aren’t as able to regulate or manage their fear of pain or discomfort that may be associated with visiting the dentist.

Put special effort into positive reinforcement for younger patients that will help them to associate visits to the dentist with pleasant experiences like fun cartoons or after-treatment treats.

5. Make Your Reception Area Dynamic

We’ve all visited clinics where the only gesture toward accommodating children is a small bucket of second-hand toys and no room for kids to play with them. If you want parents to feel comfortable bringing their kids to your clinic, you need to put some real thought into making your reception area kid-friendly.

Fortunately, it’s easy to find affordable and fun designs online that can help you communicate to patients that your clinic takes the needs of children (and their parents!) seriously. 

Children are not going to be a key demographic for every dental clinic. But even if young people don’t make up the majority of your patient base, your practice will still benefit by being as inclusive as possible. For this reason, adopting some of these strategies for making your clinic appeal to your littlest patients is a great way of showing that you offer an open and welcoming space to patients of all ages.