Embracing Change to Give Your Practice a Competitive Advantage

By Ryan Estis

How a practice responds to change says a lot about the team that runs it. Do they embrace it? Seek it out? Avoid it? In this technological age, keeping up with the pace of change is crucial from a business and clinical perspective—patients make negative assessments about a practice based on outdated equipment, and using old technology may put a practice at a disadvantage when diagnosing patients. While adding new equipment is a step in the right direction, here are a few other ways you can view change around your practice that will give you a competitive advantage.

  1. Embrace change in the new economy—From imaging technology to the way we communicate with patients to how we accept payments, every aspect of the dental practice is changing. And that change is being driven by greater global trends that reflect how interconnected the world has become. Don’t think of yourself as one small practice, but part of a global business network. The changes you make now affect not only your practice but your patients, your community and, ultimately, the greater economy.

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Changing Lives by Giving Back [Update]

EDITOR’S NOTE: In addition to offering continuing education and networking opportunities, the 2017 Global Oral Health Summit will also provide participants with the chance to partake in a special volunteer activity. Clean the World will guide attendees in assembling hygiene kits to distribute to those in need in the Orlando community. Carestream Dental will also be accepting monetary donations on behalf of Clean the World during the Summit, and contributions of unused toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss will be welcomed. Learn more here.

During the holidays, it’s common to give thanks and reflect on a successful year—a thriving practice, a dedicated staff and happy patients being among them. Some practices may even use this time to give back to their communities, whether through canned food donations or Angel Trees in the office lobby, or a day of volunteering at a food bank with the whole practice.

However, doctors and their staff have valuable skills to offer their communities at any time of the year. Giving, without any expectation of gain, allows dentistry to change lives. Continue reading

Four Steps to Mastering Social Media at GOHS

The Global Oral Health Summit is a dynamic opportunity for oral health practitioners and professionals to learn about the latest industry technology and expand their professional networks by interacting with colleagues from across the country and globe. Utilizing social media is a prudent way to take advantage of all the benefits the Global Oral Health Summit has to offer. Here are a few tips to amplify your Summit experience.

Follow – The official social media accounts of the Global Oral Health Summit are an excellent source to find the most up-to-date information about the program, location and venue accommodations for the 2016 Summit and beyond.

  • Before GOHS begins, you can find Facebook posts about the Summit’s featured subject matter experts and in-depth content related to the session subjects to help you determine which sessions meet your particular interests.
  • Follow the GOHS Twitter account during the Summit for real-time updates and tips from our keynote speakers Laura Schwartz and social media expert Jesse Miller.
  • When the Summit is over, the educational support doesn’t end. Whether you have decided to make an equipment purchase or implement new software, you can visit the GOHS social channels to find helpful resources that will make the transition easy.


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Dentistry Abroad: Providing Oral Healthcare in St. Lucia

As doctors, we have committed to improving the lives of our patients. While we all do this on a daily basis in our local communities, providing oral healthcare to patients without the necessary dental resources can be an eye opening—and life changing—experience.

silvermanstlucia3This summer, I was asked by Great Shapes!, a non-profit program that facilitates humanitarian aid in the Caribbean, to participate in its 1000 Smiles Dental Project in St. Lucia. This trip also included the director of endodontics and three endodontic residents from the University of North Carolina as well as a pediatric dentist. I was also fortunate to have my wife Katie, an emergency room RN, and my youngest son Zach, a sophomore at Penn state, join me as volunteers during the week.

Preparing to Work Abroad

There are a number of behind-the-scenes tasks that must be completed before leaving the country. First, I applied for a temporary dental license from the government of St. Lucia that allowed me to practice dentistry while on the island.

Ensuring you have the right supplies is crucial. My local Rotary Club lent me a great deal of support by donating supplies for the trip. Additionally, I brought much of my own equipment to ensure I was able to properly diagnose and treat patients. It’s important to note here that there are also dental technology companies that will loan small, portable equipment to organizations who perform mission work. Continue reading

Hands-On Courses: How They Can Help Improve Your Practice

While the traditional approach to continuing education—that is, a speaker presenting from a podium to a large group—is still valuable, there is something to be said about the experience gained when taking small/limited attendance continuing education programs. Hands-on courses give participants the chance to try out new skills or assist during a live procedure.

Nowhere is this more important than in implant programs. By participating in hands-on courses with limited attendance, dental professionals are better able to learn clinical protocols and techniques unique to implant planning and placement. This provides a more personalized experience than listening to someone speak in a lecture hall. Continue reading

Is the #1 Communication Problem Affecting Your Practice?

During my time as a communication and relationship specialist, I have encountered a number of communication problems that occur in the workplace. Out of all these issues, I have found that gossip is the one problem that has the most toxic effect on the dental practice. If not handled properly, gossip has the potential to destroy workplace relationships, decrease productivity and even impact patient care.

Often, gossip starts because person A doesn’t like what person B does—and then person A complains to person C. Taken at face value, the reasons why someone would talk about someone else behind their back make sense; they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or provoke a negative reaction by discussing the problem directly. Unfortunately, over time, this can backfire.

I see this situation quite often between the front and back office. The back office staff assumes that the front office spends their time talking, while the front office staff assumes that the back office doesn’t have as much to do. There are already assumptions from the very beginning, affecting the way that both teams communicate with one another. Continue reading

Predictions for 2015

Google, Microsoft and Apple will merge creating a single user friendly computer world where everything works with everything else. The new company will be called GoogyAppleSoft and the software will be Androidmacindows.

The fact that windows PC products won’t work with Apple, Apple doesn’t work with Android and vice versa is just the most visible compatibility battle. In dentistry we are plagued with proprietary systems that refuse to play together. Digital impressions, digital x-rays and even digital records can’t be transferred from one system to another. This is good for the manufacturer but not good for the dentist. Continue reading

Changing Lives by Giving Back

During the holidays, it’s common to give thanks and reflect on a successful year—a thriving practice, a dedicated staff and happy patients being among them. Some practices may even use this time to give back to their communities, whether through canned food donations or Angel Trees in the office lobby, or a day of volunteering at a food bank with the whole practice.

However, doctors and their staff have valuable skills to offer their communities at any time of the year. Giving, without any expectation of gain, allows dentistry to change lives. Continue reading

It’s About the People

(This is an updated version of an article I published in 2009)

It’s not about the machine, it’s about the people. But sometimes the machine can make all the difference.

It is easy to see technology just as machines and networks but I have always believed the real significance, the real value of technology comes when we use it to improve the human condition. Dr. Tony Romanazzi, a dentist from Glens Falls, New York in the Hudson River Valley, told me a lovely story that demonstrates this idea perfectly.

Dr. Romanazzi was asked by a long time patient if he would see a relative of hers, a special needs patient we will call Jimmy. Jimmy was a mentally handicapped man in his fifties who functioned about on the level of a two or three year old. That is he could say a few words and get around the house but could not really care for himself. Jimmy had been complaining that his teeth hurt. His care givers had tried to find him some help but so far no one had been able to do much. Continue reading

Imaging Technology and Business Impact – Predetermination of Benefits

There are many elements that impact the business side of our dental practices and—for many—dental insurance coverage plays a large role in our ability to drive productivity. For this reason predetermination of benefits can help our patients better “afford” the costs associated with their dental treatment needs. However, when this process takes too long or is unsuccessful, immediate treatment needs can quickly turn into procrastination and avoidable emergencies can and do occur.  Using digital radiography coupled with intraoral imaging has helped support a number of my practice needs, which include:

  • Expediting the predetermination of benefits process
  • Increasing the likelihood that my treatment recommendation is accepted by the third-party payer
  • Improving patient understanding and treatment acceptance
  • Increasing overall practice revenue and efficiency.

To highlight how upgrading your imaging systems can help with predetermination of benefits, I have created the following chart.


How to Achieve It

Your Benefits

Expedite the Process If you use an electronic attachment service with your practice management software, such as NEA’s Fast Attach, you can immediately send images from sensors, phosphor plate systems and intraoral cameras and electronically transmit x-rays, perio charts,intraoral photos, EOB’s and any other required information for insurance carriers to view insupport of patient claims.
  • In the past, sending off your film meant duplication of the film or sending an original, which may never be seen again. By sending digital images, you can still retain the information you need later for treatment.
  • Sending film via the mail has a number of disadvantages, including the potential for lost or damaged film, the cost of postage, and the time it takes for your documents to arrive. Using digital images and an electronic attachment service eliminates these concerns.
Increase Case Acceptance By using digital technology, you can supplement your diagnosis with images from intraoral cameras and enhance images with imaging software to improve turnaround times and improve the likelihood of approval by the third-part payer and ultimately patient acceptance of treatment.
  • Extra documentation that supports your treatment recommendation could mean the difference between a successful claim and a rejection.
  • When patients know that their claim will be accepted, they are more likely obtain treatment; thus boosting your practice revenue.

Have you considered switching to digital in order to make big revenue impact for your practice in 2013? I am interested in hearing your thoughts below.