Curious about adopting more technology into your dental practice? Dental Products Reports' experts explain 10 tips and tricks you need to know.
When it comes to adopting technology, our experts all had a unique perspective on what might aid the process. Here are some wise words on how to handle technology in your practice.
Dr. John Flucke, DDS: Hire the right people.
“As far as assimilating this technology and bringing it in, I’ve never had problems with that because I’ve always intentionally tried to hire employees who were either tech literate themselves or at least were open minded about learning new things. So I don’t have any employees who are like ‘I don’t like computers’ or ‘I’d rather write it on a piece of paper.’ If you don’t like change, and you don’t like being on the edge and learning about stuff, this is not the place for you.”
Dr. Jason Watts, DMD: Embrace technology or lose your momentum.
“A lot of people are stagnant. The majority of practices aren’t technologically advanced as of right now because Baby Boomers don’t want to convert from paper records to electronic health records because it costs $25,000 or $30,000 and they’re on the verge of retirement. Who wants to fork over that amount of money right then? But if they’re not growing, they’re dying. If you’re not experimenting with what technology has to offer or at least test-driving the vehicle, you’ll never know how good it feels to drive it.”
Kara Vavrosky, RDH: Don’t tiptoe; jump in.
“When you do make the switch, go in all at once. I worked with a doctor once who switched to paperless. We were excited. In the office, we made the switch, all in. But the doctor was slow to implement. He used paper for some things and then the paperless system for others. It took him forever to learn the digital system because he didn’t do it all at once and he could always fall back on the old paper chart way. The efficiency we gained from the paperless system was lost for months as a result.”
Dr. Emily Hobart, DMD: Do your research.
“The vendors are full of all these new, great things that you can buy. I can’t tell you how many dentists fresh out of dental school I’ve seen purchase these things. Then dentists never use them because they are not what they thought they’d be or not as efficient. Or they don’t get the training to use them, so they’re not confident with the new technology. People underestimate the amount of time it takes to get competent at using the new technology. Some of these things I see at the dental conferences, I don’t think I would spend my money on unless I knew how it worked.”
Dr. Erinne Kennedy, DMD: Plan in advance and look to the future.
“You have to have a vision of where you want your practice to be in five years and only make purchases that are going to aid in that vision. You don’t need some phenomenal endodontic equipment if you’re focusing on restorative dentistry. You have to make sure that your purchases are aiding in your vision. It’s not just saying ‘I want the most advanced equipment all across the board.’ You have to look at, ‘What’s my vision? Where is my office going and what new technology is going to get me there?’”
Dr. Kris Mendoza, DDS: Make sure the team understands the technology before implementing it.
“When the dentist has received the two-hour training, they expect the hygienist, the front office staff or other parts of the team to put the same amount of effort into it on their own. However, it should be on the dentist to make sure that team understands the technology before implementing the system. Because without that, it’s not going to be effective.”
Mark Ferguson, General Manager Vulcan Custom Dental: There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
“Understand that if you go digital, it doesn’t mean that everything can be done digitally. Some cases still cannot be done entirely digitally. We can’t throw away everything we learned in the old analog world. For example, with a titanium implant bar, intraoral scanners are not accurate enough cross-arch to get the fit required. There’s a hard line in the sand as to what you can do and what you can’t. With intraoral scanners, in particular, that’s the line. When you do an intraoral scan, the scanner’s stitching as it goes around the arch of the mouth, whereas the lab scanners are scanning the whole arch at the same time; there’s no data stitching. Although, even on the lab side, not all scanners are accurate enough for that type of a restoration either.”
Dr. Leah Capozzi, DDS: Move forward after answering three vital questions.
“We need to consider three things moving forward with new technology. First, does it help you do better dentistry? Does it benefit your patients? Second, how often will you use it? There's often a learning curve with new technology, so sometimes we have to venture outside our comfort zone to get started. Finally, how you will integrate the technology? Be sure to make a strategy for implementation.”
Tija Hunter, Dental Assistant: Increase your value to your practice with knowledge of technology.
“I tell dental assistants to learn this technology because you will be a huge help to your practice. You’ll make yourself more valuable if you’re ahead of the curve instead of waiting until it’s introduced into your practice. Learn what you can because maybe the doctor is going to do the dentistry, but needs you to step in and do everything else. And he or she will need somebody that’s not afraid of it.”
Dr. Tara Griffin, DMD: Use your resources.
“It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of technology available. Find a colleague or mentor that is successfully implementing the technology you are considering in his or her practice and learn from them. Find out firsthand what it can do. Find out how it can be done and how it can be implemented.”