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    What a paperless practice really looks like

    How real dentists have gone paperless in their practices.

     

    These expenses, which cost Dr. Jablow’s practice thousands of dollars a month, weren’t a concern 10 years ago.

    “Where does it start or stop?” he asks. “Does the price decrease, or are we just going to be looking at paying more and more for software as a service in what we’re going to be considering essential add-ons?”

    Related article: The top 3 software trends for 2018

    For those who only have paper charts, this is not a concern. Of course, they risk losing their data completely. Pay for the insurance, or take the risk of paying dearly when your worst fears come true.

    “The drawback is that you have that initial investment in your equipment, but you also have to recognize that it’s not a one-time expense,” Dr. Hyman says. “You’re going to continue to upgrade your hardware and software, because that’s the way of the world. It has to be budgeted for.”

    Going digital comes with a harsh reality of risk and cost. And now, there is less of an option for practices to wait for the release of retirement, when new owners will be responsible for moving the practice into the future.

    “As a Baby Boomer doctor transitioning the practice, if you bring in a young gun and you’re not fully digital, the young doctor is going to look at you as being old school and behind the times, and they’re going to know that they will have to invest in more computers and hardware and software and intraoral cameras, cone beam scanners and digital sensors,” Dr. Hyman says. “Those are the dues you pay as a Baby Boomer doctor to have your practice look cutting-edge to your patients and to your young potential associates and partners that are going to come in and buy your practice some day.”

    As with everything in business, the obstacles to being paperless for many doctors are cost and the feeling that things are good enough. 

    Related article:Comparing next-generation EHRs

    “I would ask doctors to think of the big picture,” Dr. Jablow says. “Don’t think about the amount that the software costs. What’s it costing you if it’s freeing your team up and you’ve got a hold of your information to fill in holes in the schedule and you can make sure doctors and hygienists are reaching their daily goal? If you don’t have control of your information, you are just shooting in the dark, or you’re spending tens of thousands of dollars on marketing, trying to get new patients in when you already have $1 million of undone treatment sitting on your books.”

    And the most important thing? “The biggest part of the digital office is increased efficiency,” Dr. Jablow says. “Time is money. That’s what it comes down to.”

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