How technology improves communication and efficiency with staff and patients

January 12, 2016

There have been many changes in the dental industry throughout the years.

There have been many changes in the dental industry throughout the years.

When I started my dental career 25 years ago, I had no idea how much technology could change and, even better, improve a dental office when it comes to communication strategies and efficiencies. 

Communication is key in any industry. This is why finding ways to improve communication with your office team is so important. As you start out in the dental industry, I encourage you to talk to others in our profession about how they’ve improved their communication techniques. One way my practice has improved not only our communication with patients and staff but also increased our overall productivity and efficiency was through implementing different kinds of technology.

Related reading: 5 technologies your practice needs to invest in now

My office has chosen to implement a practice management system, a practice marketing system, patient education software and an intraoral camera. Together, the four systems integrate very well and have improved our practice’s efficiency, communication and profitability.  

Practice management systems build relationships with patients

As you will quickly learn, efficiency and productivity are hugely important in a dental office but so is building a loyal client base. One of the best ways to accomplish all of these items is by implementing a practice management system. After researching and utilizing other practice management systems, our office found Eaglesoft by Patterson Dental to be the best fit.

More on Eaglesoft: 10 things you should be using in Eaglesoft but probably aren’t

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Something that is very important to us is making a real connection with each patient that walks in our door. This can be difficult, however, when we see so many people on a daily basis. Thankfully, most practice management systems allow you to make notes directly in each patient’s online profile. We often add in personal information or reminders so we can follow-up next time. This makes our patients feel at ease and lets them know we care.

Our office also loves the instant messaging feature in our current system. Building a relationship with your patient can be difficult if you have to leave his or her side to run to the front or go check in with the doctor. This feature eliminates the constant running around as all the information we need is at the tips of our fingers.

Related reading: The best practice management software for your office

Practice marketing systems grow your business

More patients are mobile and prefer communicating via text message, email and/or social media. To cater to the rising demand, we send and receive communications through our practice marketing system, RevenueWell, via text messages, email and Facebook so no appointment request goes unnoticed. This helps us stay on track throughout the week as new appointments are added or removed and allows us to leave the scheduling to the automated system.

More on practice marketing software: Using a practice marketing software to benefit patients and practices

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This system also helps us cut our overhead costs. Rather than our front-desk staff making the time in their schedules to call each and every patient for appointments, follow-up questions or insurance forms, our practice marketing system syncs with our practice management system to gain patient contact information. This allows our front-office staff to focus their efforts elsewhere-like on patient communication and building our business.

Best yet, a practice marketing system can ultimately help you gain more patients by increasing your online presence and marketability. This can help your practice expand and ultimately increase your return on investment (ROI). Think of the investment you make in new technology and then measure that against the amount of new patients you bring in. Chances are, your gained patient base will greatly outweigh your technology investment.

Related reading: Increase case acceptance with patient education systems

Patient education software encourages open communication

Regularly using a patient education software, such as CAESY from Patterson Dental, puts dental lingo into easier-to-understand terminology for our patients. Our dental office plays CAESY’s Smile Channel in our waiting room, which highlights different services and procedures that our dental practice offers. This feature can prompt patients to ask for additional information about our office’s services and possibly schedule an additional appointment down the road.

Ultimately, the end goal is to have open and honest conversations with patients where everyone understands recommendations and treatment options. Patient education software allows this to happen by explaining terminology in simple, easy-to-understand terms. Patients feel empowered when they understand the options or issues specific to them, so we always try to work a short video into some part of the visit.

More on practice management software: Emerging trends in practice management software solutions for dental practices

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Intraoral camera shows the solutions

Before patients even step foot into a dental practice, we know that some visitors are going to be more visual learners. When trying to express the importance of moving forward with a procedure, such as a root canal, visuals are vital. We use our intraoral camera to show patients their problem areas versus what a healthy tooth should look like. Our intraoral camera also integrates well with our other technology systems, making it a great educational tool. This, again, helps patients learn and understand their treatment options, encourages open communication with dental staff, and fosters the beginning of a relationship built on trust.

Related reading: The three most underused technologies in your practice

Technology has become significantly more important in today’s society so I’d recommend implementing technology systems into your practice right away. When looking at different products, research the support teams and what kind of training will be offered. As with all new technology products, the support team will become very important as they will help guide you throughout your use of the product.

New technology has many benefits. We’ve seen an increased return on investment and higher case acceptance rates since using our various systems at the office. We’ve created a more streamlined communication process internally and externally, and can now ensure that no patient or staff member is left uninformed. Knowing what technology has done for us thus far, I can’t wait to see what they come up with in the next 25 years.

More on technology: What $10,000 could do for your practice