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Dr. John Flucke is in private practice in Lee’s Summit, Mo. He also serves as technology editor for Dental Products Report magazine and keeps an active blog filled with thoughts and tidbits on the world of technology at blog.denticle.com.
Let’s take a look at a few ideas of things that could help you make some changes for the better for your dental practice in the last half of 2016.
Any good business is always looking for ways to improve their efficiency, while either boosting or maintaining their product quality as well. This applies whether you are selling widgets, manufacturing cars or running a dental practice. Successful enterprises not only embrace change, they seek it out. Then when they find it, they don’t just embrace it, they grab hold of it and ride the wave of change for all it is worth.
The great inventor, Charles Kettering (founder of AC Delco) once said, “High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation.”
He also once said, “If you have always done it that way, it is probably wrong.”
With the idea of change as a big part of what we do, let’s take a look at a few ideas of things that could help you make some changes for the better in the last half of 2016.
WiFi in your office
While this may be something that lots of us have already deployed, I’m not talking about just plugging in a router from Best Buy so that your phone or iPad have a better connection. No, I’m talking about a seriously secured access point. This is not something that you can do by yourself. Talk to your IT people and tell them you want a WiFi router in your office that is as secure as they can make it. You want it locked down tight and you want it to be separate from your office network. This means that no one can access your wireless and then also access your office network and patient data. This takes some special know how, but can be readily setup by your IT provider.
This network should also be very secure from a password and encryption standpoint. This will allow you to use it for important HIPAA-compliant tasks such as sending digital impressions out for milling as well as other tasks that require a high speed wireless network.
If you would like, you can also have a separate wireless network (separate from the one mentioned above) for patients and staff to use. Many patients find this to be a nice value-added service while visiting our office.
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Using a digital SLR camera in the office can allow for some amazing images to be taken. Granted, it takes a little extra time, but ask anyone who takes these pictures in their office and you won’t find very many (if any) that would do it any other way. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not having a photoshoot for every patient that I see. However, for many anterior cases, photos can be one of the most important parts. Putting these pictures on a large monitor and going over them with the patient gives you as the doctor a great chance to communicate exactly what can be done while giving the patient a chance to ask all of their questions while gaining a perspective and comprehension on what will be done, what the finished product will look like, etc.
The photos can also be invaluable when communicating with the lab or with specialists you may work with on the case. As the old saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and when it comes to the kind of communication you can develop in challenging cosmetic cases, one thousand may just be getting the discussion started.
If you are interested in this type of photography but can’t tell a f-stop from a short stop, don’t worry. There are several companies that will sell you cameras that are true DSLR with the correct lens and all the bells and whistles. The settings will be all preprogrammed for you, thus making these amazing technological wonders basically point and shoot. They are incredibly easy to use and your staff can jump in a take really good photos on day one!
Eyefi is a very interesting device. It consists of an SD Memory Card that has a small WiFi radio built into it. The card can be accepted by any cameras that has a SD memory slot and there are also SD to CF adapters if you happen to have a camera that takes CF cards. When you set your Eyefi card up, you give its own encryption scheme and password. This allows it to have a unique identifier on the network.
I also recommend buying or using a laptop. Once the laptop is also configured to the network, a folder is created on the desktop where the Eyefi will place its photos. About as fast as you can press the shutter button, images begin showing up in the folder on the laptop. This lets patients see the photos as as quickly as they are being taken. This near-instantaneous sharing with patients will help establish your office as one of the top tech office in your area.
At the end of the day, you can place the images on a jump drive and then load into the correct patient digital chart. This is a great way to keep all of your images together in one place until the end of the day.
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Now that you have all of this digital information available to you, you need a simple and easy way to share it with colleagues while keeping the info HIPAA compliant. To do this, I recommend a mailing service called Aspida. These folks have secure HIPAA-compliant email servers that ensure your communications are kept completely between you and the intended recipient.
Aspida is simple to set up and performs extremely well. I’ve been using the service for about two years now and I have had a stellar customer experience.
Guru patient education system
Helping patients understand “what needs to be done and why” is something that can be difficult under the best of circumstances. For our money we use Guru. It’s an amazing video program that explains difficult procedures using CGI and common everyday language.
The system is always growing and being added to so that as soon as a new module is available, you have access to it. I’ve been using Guru for about seven years and the patients love how well we communicate.
Citrix Share File
A system that I’ve been trying out for all of you this spring is Share File from Citrix. The idea of the device is fairly simple. They will hold your info that must meet strict HIPAA standards. This “online value” from Citrix gives you access to any type of file or information you choose to store there. However, without the proper username and password, no one stands a chance of accessing you HIPAA compliant storage account.
Wrapping it up
So there you are. Some good idea to make the second half of the year financially and technologically better than the first half. Hopefully you’ve seen that all of these products offer solutions that can make your work less while increasing quality and profitability.
I find it amazing as to how many come into our beloved field. Now let’s get out there and help change our patients lives for the better!