In oral healthcare, clinical expertise and experience should count for more than technology—but the truth is that patients do judge their doctors by the technology they use. It can take as many as 25 years to become a great dentist or specialist, but these days it only take 25 minutes to look the part, especially when leveraging technology at a higher level. Patients often judge practices by their technological expertise and their perception may even start when looking at your Internet presence (website, reviews, etc.) From there, it continues with their interaction with the front desk staff all the way throughout their clinical exam. For this reason, it’s imperative that the impression you make with your technology is a good one from the start.
Keeping your patients happy has a direct impact on your bottom line, which includes:
- Attracting new quality patients
- Increasing treatment acceptance
- Retaining patients and decreasing patient turnover
The following chart also demonstrates how technological competency plays a role in improving the patient experience.
||How It Helps Patients
||How It Helps You
|Instant Access to Images
||Patients these days are busy. Whether a parent has taken his or her child out of school for an ortho records appointment or your patient is missing work for dental restorative appointment, reducing the length of patient visits is important. With fast image acquisitions and efficient access to historical image data, you can get patients in and out in a timely manner without them feeling rushed.
- Digital technology produces images instantly—without the delays caused by processing film.
- By capturing images with digital technology—such as direct digital sensors or phosphor plates—you no longer have to purchase expensive consumables, such as film or chemistry.
||Patients want to feel in charge of their health. By “co-discovering” problem areas with you via a monitor, you give them the opportunity to play an active role in their oral health.
- Allowing patients to co-discover problems with you improves understanding and increases case acceptance.
- Patients who are satisfied with their care are more likely to return and also recommend your practice to their friends and family.
||Some dental symptoms are asymptomatic, so patients aren’t often aware that a problem exists. By putting an image on the monitor, patients receive visual cues about the treatment needs that must be addressed.
- When patients are able to visualize the problem, they are more likely to accept your treatment recommendation.
- Digital images are usually displayed larger than those captured with film, which allows patients to participate more than before.
Patients are more likely to refer others to you if they feel safe and if they believe that you’re investing in your practice. You show them how much you care when investing in technology that aids in efficiency and raises your diagnostic accuracy.
Updating your technology will not only have an impact on your existing patients but it can also impress prospective patients as well. Featuring technology as an important part of your treatment philosophy enables you to stand apart from other practices in the community and allows your philosophy of technological competency to ring out loud.
Have you found that your patients judge your practice based on your technology? How has it affected your practice?
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.
- 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.
If you haven’t switched to digital radiography, it’s likely due to concerns like these:
- Operational challenges
- Staff retraining
The misconceptions about digital radiography dissuade many oral health professionals from making the transition. They focus on the immediate impact of equipment changes and stop there.
Do you fall into this category? If so, you may not realize the potential for digital radiography to advance your dental practice objectives.
|“Digital radiography isn’t worth the cost of computerizing my backend.”
If treatment rooms are not already computerized, adding digital radiography may seem like an expensive option.
|Two key points:
# 1 – Not all digital radiography products require a computerized operatory. For example, phosphor plate systems have a workflow similar to film but can develop images much faster and do not require a treatment room computer. Some digital sensors work with portable computing / display options, such as a tablet.
# 2 – Computerizing your back office and networking a good practice management system can actually reduce overall operational costs in many ways
|Don’t assume all digital radiography products won’t be adaptable to the technology level of your practice. If you aren’t planning to computerize your treatment rooms, ask about mobile solutions or digital radiography products with a workflow similar to film.
|“Digital sensors are big, bulky and hard to position.”
Many dentists are afraid that digital intraoral sensors are harder to position than film and are more uncomfortable for their patients.
|Today’s digital intraoral sensors come in a variety of sizes and can capture a wide range of images. They’re designed for comfort and easy placement.
|Look for sensors that:
– Come in different sizes
– Can capture different types of images
– Have positioning systems that facilitate placement
|“Digital radiography is too expensive.”
Some practices are hesitant to purchase digital radiography products because the initial costs are higher than film radiography’s.
|The upfront cost of digital radiography is more than film. However, this is a one-time expense. And, if you consider the savings in time and consumables (film/chemicals), you may discover that you actually spend less in the long run.
||Compare your yearly spend on film/chemicals to the cost of digital radiography equipment. Depending on how many images you capture annually, you may save by making the switch.
What are your concerns about digital radiography? Or if you’ve already made the switch to digital, what advice do you have for practitioners who haven’t? Continue reading
To understand what oral health professionals should look for in 2017, we asked a number of experts about their opinions on this year’s trends. This is what Ed Shellard, D.M.D., Carestream Dental’s vice president of sales and marketing, had to say:
Advancements in digital dentistry make each year more exciting than the last. As we look ahead, 2017 will be no different. In addition to growing digital trends, we’ll also see a new business structure emerge. Let’s take a more detailed look at how oral health care might be different in 2017
Intraoral scanning will continue to grow in the upcoming years. While there may be certain cases where taking traditional impressions is necessary, 3D intraoral scanning is more comfortable for patients and more convenient for practices and labs. The growth of 3D intraoral scanning is the first step in digitizing the restorative workflow. While chairside milling is important, larger numbers of practitioners are choosing to defer the purchase of a mill until they are comfortable with the implementation of the 3D intraoral scanner. Fortunately, “open” scanners make it easy for doctors to work with labs. Continue reading
The provision of affordable treatment is the major issue facing our healthcare system. All other problems flow from that.
As a general rule, patients care about quality outcomes and the overall experience of a healthcare encounter. They do not care as much about cost if they do not pay directly for treatment.
When money is the only object treatment is denied or the cheapest alternative is mandated. How many times have you had patients refuse treatment because their insurance will not cover it? Way too many. Continue reading
The technology behind the tools and equipment that dentists use on a daily basis is rapidly evolving. A perfect example is the transition from 2D to 3D imaging and, more recently, the move to digital impressions. These advances took place just within the last 10 years; it’s demanding to keep up with it all while efficiently managing a practice and treating patients.
That’s why, even dental practices need to be diagnosed sometimes—for out-dated or broken equipment, that is. And, since it’s said that doctors make the worst patients, it’s important to consider having an outside representative visit your practice for a technology consultation. Continue reading
Doctors have long been the trusted, authoritative voice on all things related to oral health. Patients relied on our years of training and accepted treatment without much question. These days, technologically-savvy patients aren’t interested in a monologue from their doctor; they want to join the conversation. Not only do they demand a two-way dialog—a perfectly reasonable request that should be encouraged, we want our patients to ask question and understand their treatment—but websites like WebMD and online forums now have patients “crowd sourcing” the best treatment options. That means the conversation between you and your patient can quickly become a figurative shouting match between you, the patient and everyone the patient chatted with on the “The Worst Things that Can Go Wrong during a Root Canal” forum.
However, no matter how many online articles the patient reads; forums they visit for advice; or symptoms they self-diagnose based on a Google search, the doctor is the expert. But how do we let our voices be heard? I recommend we not only “talk the talk,” but “walk the walk” by demonstrating to our patients our expertise and dedication to their care with the safest, most advanced imaging technology.
Embracing new social media platforms, such as Yelp or Google+, that allow users to leave reviews may make you feel like you’re losing control, “What if I get a bad review?” However, with a few examples of how my own practice has found success embracing and encouraging online reviews, you’ll find them essential to the modern dental practice: Continue reading
Digital Technology: An easy trend to predict is the expanded use of digital technology. What is not so easy to predict is how that technology will be used. For example, in 2004 everybody expected use of the Internet to grow but very few people predicted Facebook.
In dentistry, digital records, digital radiographs and digital photography already predominate. The next big change, already underway, will be digital impressions. Future technologies will include diagnostics and artificial intelligence.
Diagnostics: Digital high tech diagnosis is one of the most exciting trends in both dentistry and medicine, a trend that will revolutionize what it means to be a health care professional. We are very close to the sci-fi Tricorder used by Dr. McCoy in Star Trek. That is a device that will scan a person and detect physiologic changes that indicate disease.
Cloud-based diagnostics using a type of artificial intelligence will be used to analyze all kinds of scanned physiologic data including radiographs and photos. These diagnostic services will be able to detect minute physiological changes and compare them to a vast data base to determine if the change is pathological. The skills of a master diagnostician, that is the ability to detect physiological changes and compare these to remembered diseases, will be replaced by a computer. Continue reading
As part of our series on 2015’s dental trends, we asked Dr. Robert Pauley to share his thoughts on what the year will bring. This is what Dr. Pauley had to say:
I am excited about all of the new dental trends developing in 2015. Dentists of all ages are becoming excited about furthering their professional development and developing new skills—the new technology that is available this coming year is mind blowing. Most importantly, the advances in communication opportunities within the dental community are endless.
Improved Continuing Education Opportunities
I am impressed with seeing so many top level clinicians continuing their education in implants and laser therapy. It’s exciting to have the opportunity to take part in courses onsite, such as the Maximus Course (a 300 + hour implant CE experience in Atlanta under the direction of Dr. Edward Mills), or to access the information from any location over the web (as can be do with the DentalXP Online Implant Externship program, under the direction of Dr. Maurice Salama). In 2015, I only see these opportunities improving. Continue reading