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    What a paperless practice really looks like

    How real dentists have gone paperless in their practices.

     

    Incorporating digital technologies at the front desk and in the operatories makes multitasking much easier. Marty Jablow, DMD, a self-named dental technology coach, has computers at the front desk and in the operatories.

    While the front desk uses one monitor for work and one just to display the schedule, multiple monitors in the operatory means that the dentist can display radiographs on one and charting on the other.

    “It minimizes the amount of time that you have to look away or bring up an image to view it,” he says. “All of the images are available all the time.”

    “Digital images are taken with a variety of different products,” Dr. Jablow continues. “We use both sensors and phosphor plate systems because we don’t believe that one size fits all. It’s also good for the redundancy. In case something breaks down, we’re never at a loss for taking radiographs. Having both gives us that flexibility.”

    Related article: How I managed to create a paperless office

    Digitizing the process from start to finish can make things smoother for both dentist and patient.

    “Digital X-rays are all done digitally, from digital pan to sensor-based bitewings and PAs,” Dr. Flucke says. “We also take photos of the patients. From a restorative standpoint, it’s kind of similar. We have them update their health history every six months because things change. We take images with a combination. We have a couple of nice, digital SLR cameras, so we can take really good high-end photos outside the mouth. Not only can you take pictures of profiles in addition to teeth, but we can also switch out lenses and get really enlarged photos of different clinical situations that we’re dealing with. That all becomes part of the record, and we can send that on to the lab. We do digital impressions with the iTero. They get sent to the lab and if we have a question, we can call the lab pretty much in real time so they can see what we’re doing and offer any advice.”

    For Dr. Watts, scanning has become a huge part of his practice.

    “I have a scanner, so I digitally scan about 90 percent of my work,” he says. “The only thing I don’t scan yet is dentures or anything that’s heavily involved with blood or liquid. Other than that, I scan all partials, crowns, inlays and onlays.”

    Those scans upload directly to Dr. Watts’ lab. Being able to see the file the lab gets helps make sure there are no issues with the scans. But when there are, it’s easy for the two sides to communicate. “It’s much more seamless of a transition,” he says.

    Dr. Jablow feels similarly about his scanner.

    “For digital impressions, I use the Carestream CS 3500 with their software, which makes taking impressions easier and more accurate,” Dr. Jablow says. “And we get quicker turnaround times because we are not losing the transportation time from the office to the lab since it’s going digitally. It’s being touched less than it would be in a conventional impression. We have a more efficient process now. Our biggest problem is that we can’t get the patients in fast enough once we get the lab work back.”

    Another major advantage of going digital is the security it offers.

    “We use Curve for the software, and that’s all backed up in the cloud,” Dr. Hyman explains. “We also have a redundant server, so we have on-sight storage plus a cloud backup.”

    Related article: How to ensure your email is HIPAA compliant

    Dr. Watts also sees value in a cloud-based system. He says it is beneficial because he can work from home and access his encrypted files there, if needed.

    “From the IT standpoint,it’s less complex, so it’s more cost effective,” he says. “My electronic costs are only a third of what a normal office would be with an IT storage room, where everything is hard downloaded. A lot of offices might only have one or two backup servers, so if something happens, all your files are lost and you’re starting from scratch. It’s nice to know that all your stuff is backed up.”

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