digital radiography to the office you’re currently in, there’s plenty to consider before you get started. From cabling to computer systems, you need to think about what makes the most sense for your team and your practice.

"/> digital radiography to the office you’re currently in, there’s plenty to consider before you get started. From cabling to computer systems, you need to think about what makes the most sense for your team and your practice.

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    Get ready to go digital

    Time to add digital radiography to your practice? We tell you how.

    Whether you’re moving to a new office space or adding digital radiography to the office you’re currently in, there’s plenty to consider before you get started. From cabling to computer systems, you need to think about what makes the most sense for your team and your practice.

    We recently talked with Vitaly Rindner, President of Dental Technology Experts, a technology consulting company for dentists . Here, he outlines what you need to know before going digital.

    Q: What should dentists consider when adding digital radiography to their practice?

    A: If you’re switching from analog it’s going to require a lot of additional pieces in the practice. When interacting with a patient to discuss treatment options digital radiography typically requires a computer installed in the operatory. In a lot of cases that computer will have two displays—one facing the patient and one facing the dentist or hygienist. A lot of dentists opt for a TV as opposed to strictly a monitor because when they’re not showing x-rays to patients they can use it for patient entertainment.

    If they’re retrofitting an existing office space, then putting computers within the operatory often requires cabling the office space because the computer needs to be networked with the server, which stores the digital radiography images. From the server standpoint they should use a server that has redundant components so their office can continue to run in the event of a component failure. It’s also critical to have data backup protection so patient data isn’t lost at some point in the future.

    If you have to do a lot of cabling it often will require opening up walls within the practice, so think about adding things such as speakers for music throughout the practice. Patient entertainment options all are very easy and low-cost to do at that stage of construction, but not after.

    Also, if you’re going to cable a practice, it’s better to over-cable than to under-cable. You’ll have extra capacity throughout the office space for future use, allowing the practice room to grow.

    Q: How far in advance should they start planning?

    A: Under ideal circumstances, at least three- to-four-months before the system is installed they should be evaluating what their office needs, such as cabling and computer systems. Some times offices already have a lot of infrastructure in place. They may have a patient management system but not digital radiography. For some, it’s not a huge upgrade, but often that’s not the case. In many cases a lot of equipment has to be installed before everything works together in a cohesive manner.

    Q: What’s the biggest mistake dentists make when adding digital radiography? 

    A: The biggest problem I find is dentists don’t consider every aspect of how they’re going to use the software. If you want to print out x-rays, for instance, that’s often an after thought, so then there’s really no space for the printer and the process ends up being clunky. Ideally the dentist should think through who would be using the system on a daily basis and try to anticipate their different needs. Dentists also often mix different brands of digital equipment into their office and try to make everything work through the use of software bridges. For example, one vendor for intraoral cameras, another for digital x-ray, a third for their panorex station and a fourth for their practice management. Although this can be made to work, the result often is messy and less than satisfactory.

    Often the digital radiography vendor can help with planning and we work with a lot of dentists to install all the equipment in the office. We have a lot of experience and we know which questions to ask them. For example, we ask how many sensors they’re going to use. Obviously you want to spend as little as possible so many naturally default to one sensor and just share it between operatories, but that slows the practice down in terms of how many patients they can realistically service simultaneously. We also talk about if they want patient facing displays, where they’re going to put different equipment in the operatory if it’s a retrofit. Often, the operatories require special PCs that are very small and heat tolerant. In a retrofit the dental cabinetry likely doesn’t have room for a traditional PC, so you have to use special equipment for everything to work right.