Dentists are inundated with new technologies that
they are told they should implement but when is the right time and how do you
Technology has absolutely revolutionized the field of dentistry, and new tech developments have gone a long way toward making life easier for dentists and hygienists around the world, which of course improves the comfort of patients. In the last generation alone, new breakthroughs in laser technology and digital impressions have made it much easier for dental clinics to offer a higher level of care.
Still, one of the most frequent complaints I hear from dentists and clinicians is how overwhelming it can be to stay on top of new tech developments.
With new breakthroughs happening all the time, and better tools reaching the market every year, it can be hard to know which developments are must-haves and which are not worth investing in – especially since many dentists are already stressed and are primarily focused on attracting new patients and retaining them in an increasingly saturated market.
So how should you decide what technologies to employ and when? Following are a few things to keep in mind when making your decision.
1. Ask Yourself What Problem the New Tech is Solving
The first question you should ask before upgrading to any new tech solution is what problem this new tech going to solve?
New technology should never be adopted for its own sake, but instead it should be adopted precisely because it helps your dental clinic operate more effectively and/or contributes to increased patient satisfaction.
Whether that means adopting automated patient communication or incorporating digital radiography, you should always be able to clearly articulate how this new technology makes your clinic better equipped to meet its quality and customer service goals.
Essentially, ask yourself whether this investment will fill an immediate or anticipated need. If it doesn’t, it’s safe to pass.
2. Always do Your Research Before Upgrading
New technology gets a lot of hype and I would be lying if I didn’t say that sometimes it’s tempting to upgrade to the latest tech simply because it offers new, cutting-edge solutions. Novelty is exciting!
But in order to upgrade strategically and effectively, it’s important to look beyond the hype and do your research. If you are looking for new practice management software, one of the biggest questions facing dental clinics right now revolves around data security and storage. Consider the relative merits of cloud and local server solutions and make an informed decision based on your particular needs.
Since most dental software has now evolved to the point where appointment scheduling and clinical record keeping are relatively comparable between vendors, differentiation has shifted to enhanced productivity tools such as integrated financial accounting and payment card processing, advanced reporting analytics, and more adaptive administrative and clinical workflows. These are the latest things to put on your comparison checklist.
In short, the best dental software solutions should always save your practice time and energy and give you the information you need to make informed practice management decisions.
Secondly, it is a good idea to make sure the vendor you choose has a good track record of keeping up with the latest developments in the dental industry. As CEO of ABELSoft, I can say that following this philosophy has always been a priority for our company.
3. Think to the Future
The trick is to time your upgrades to guarantee the best value for the longest period of time. Pay attention to patient feedback and to developments in your field with a goal of staying ahead of the curve without wastefully investing in every new technology that comes along.
One way to do this is to use the same framework that you use when considering a new treatment procedure – evidence based dentistry. By applying the same principles you will have much more confidence that the technology will deliver what it promises.
4. Make Sure to Calculate Your Return on Investment
For example, innovative tools like 3-D intraoral scanning are starting to make difference in how dentists work. With the potential to provide more accurate replicas of the mouth than a traditional mould, they may offer a return on investment through time saved and mistakes averted. However, if you are considering such technology, make sure you consult with colleagues who have already implemented 3-D to get their impressions (no pun intended!).
If you manage a dental clinic, nobody needs to tell you that it is important for you to stay aware of the new technological developments – from improved record-keeping systems to efficient appointment reminders and confirmation communication – that make it possible to run your business better day-to-day.
In summary, whether you are a dental practitioner or office administrator, it pays to approach new technology in a strategic way that will allow you to minimize costs and ensure that you get solutions that can actually help your clinic reach its full potential.