The complete guide to simplifying your practice's transition to paperless

July 6, 2012
Paul Hinman

Issue 7

Whatever your practice goals may be, the platform that is built to grow upon is key to success. Practices are bought and sold quite often, but it is every practitioner’s dream to build their own. When dentists get to build their own practice the right way using modern equipment and materials, their future plans will be much better served. The same is true for their computer system and their future technology goals, which includes going to a paperless office by 2014.

Whatever your practice goals may be, the platform that is built to grow upon is key to success. Practices are bought and sold quite often, but it is every practitioner’s dream to build their own. When dentists get to build their own practice the right way using modern equipment and materials, their future plans will be much better served.

The same is true for their computer system and their future technology goals, which includes going to a paperless office by 2014.

What you need
At Liptak Dental Services, as system integrators, we encounter many practices getting by with computer systems that are out of date, under maintained, or obsolete. Because of this, every new product and software revision that comes along becomes a hassle and burden rather than a new tool for efficiency. Things just will not integrate well. This takes the value right out of most technology they might purchase, and leads to great dissatisfaction.

Whether your practice is brand new or has served you well for decades, installing a business-class server and high-speed network creates a platform that can be built on. You do not need to build a whole new office to get a business-class technology platform.

Related: Applying the all new scheduler for SoftDent in your practice

So what are some other future goals besides a paperless practice? What needs to be integrated? Our customers have plenty of ideas. Case presentation, cosmetic imaging, touchscreen and iPad presentations, caries detecting cameras, kiosks-our clients brought up these ideas and more in the last 24 hours. The dental industry is changing rapidly with new technologies and services appearing every day.

The second piece
The idea of a ‘platform’ that dentists may grow upon and integrate with has a second critical component: practice management software. Eaglesoft, Dentrix and Softdent are the three big systems. There are many others, but these three represent the majority of the user base, as well as the leading edge of compatibility and ongoing development. It takes a larger software company to provide the ongoing investment needed to stay current and compatible with the rest of the world’s changes. If your dental software hasn’t been updated since Windows 2000 was around, you aren’t going to find drivers or plug-ins that were written in modern times.

Related: Double Take: "Eaglesoft is intuitive and easy to use."

Everything coming into a modern dental office hinges on the practice management system. This is your core patient data, so naturally that is where services of value gravitate. Here is a list of modern features that must work with your practice data correctly to be of any value:

  • Recall/reactivation services

  • Web referrals/social media

  • Specialist referral and communication management

  • Digital x-ray

  • Intraoral cameras

  • Document scanners

  • Case presentation

  • Patient education

  • Chartless/paperless

  • Check-in kiosks

  • Instant cosmetic modelling

  • 3D cone beam

If you aren’t using a popular software package, you are less likely to find compatibility with all these advancements. As time marches on and Windows changes, you might fall even farther behind. The companies behind these products have to work together for the long haul, and everybody has to keep pace with Microsoft and Windows.

Hear efficient paperless integration tips from Paul Hinman:

As IT consultants, we track the marketplace and technology trends to help dentists make the right decisions that will keep them compatible and cutting edge for years. Making a decision about what product to incorporate into the office is all about knowing what daily life will be like once it’s part of the practice. Will it have extra clicks and confusing questions? Will it lag between exposures or images and create wait time? Will everyone hate it so the ROI never shows up? Will it only work on newer computers, requiring a large IT project? It is usually all about the software.

You have to back it up
As your practice data and services become more centralized, the responsibility to maintain and back up this data grows. A business-class server with a professional RAID card and redundant hard drives is an absolute must. Backup is needed to ensure your entire business can not be ‘deleted.’ A properly secure backup is necessary for legal reasons as well. Part of a truly integrated system that can provide consistent up-time is called Business Continuity. This is like a backup, but acts as an instant fail over server. Our product, DDS Rescue, is one of the few products in the dental industry capable of providing this level of downtime protection. Most dentists might not realize that a backup takes days to recover from, if it is even working to begin with. We see an 80% failure rate of backups we test for new customers. As we advance into the paperless age and our businesses run on the heartbeat of computers, Business Continuity is the way to true data protection.

Related: Backing up your data with Liptak Dental's DDS Rescue System

Keeping up
All of what I’ve discussed creates a well designed platform that you can build on for years to come. With professional advice along the way, your practice will be ready to use the latest technology services and modern efficiencies afforded us all by this rapidly changing industry, including making the move to paperless.

Liptak Dental Services is a dental computer service specialty that deals with the computer concerns of dentists. Their role as support agent and technology advisor is often referred to as ‘Systems Integrator.’ Their main task is to understand their clients’ businesses and where they want to go.