Morgester Dental's technology integration strategy serves as a model to other practices

January 18, 2013

How the Morgester Dental model paves the way for other dentists looking to take that first high-tech step.

How the Morgester Dental model paves the way for other dentists looking to take that first high-tech step.

Related:Learn more about Dr. Morgester's must-have technologies

When Dr. Kevin Morgester purchased his Chesterfield, Mo.,  dental office in 1995, he could just as easily have been purchasing the practice circa 1976. From the colors, to the layout, wallpaper, and conspicuous lack of technology - Dr. Morgester walked into a blank slate. But eventually realizing the full potential of the practice took time. His methodology for technology integration and his ability to bring his team into the decision-making process as advocates for change, serve as examples for other dentists looking to bring their practices up to speed.

Set the tone for innovation
While it was the humor of his childhood dentist that first sparked Dr. Morgester’s interest in the profession, what stood out in his young mind was the way this person was able to really help his mother - a frequent visitor to the dentist. The ability to help people, have a good time and be one’s own boss created a compelling set of reasons to embrace the profession.

“Of course there are some things you don’t foresee when you think about owning your own business-taxes, government intrusion, etc.-but being able to do the dentistry the way that I want, it gives me a great sense of satisfaction,” Dr. Morgester explained. “If I choose something a patient doesn’t like or a technology doesn’t perform as I’d hoped, I get a ‘redo.’ I used to be the guy who thought he knew everything, but now I realize, I’m always learning.”

This is especially the case when it comes to technology, because dental school at the time offered little to no training in anything high-tech. Taking a self-taught approach has proven to be a dynamic experience for Dr. Morgester and his team. There’s an open door policy within the practice that allows the team to bring ideas right to him.

“They are proactive and great about coming in with what they see,” he said. “What I’ve found is if we think of something, chances are someone has already developed a solution, and staff questions are a great starting point. After that, a lot of it has to do with having conversations with our Patterson Dental sales rep, the tech guys, and our active branch manager. They’re the ultimate source of bringing new things.”

Become a high-tech practice
The only technology in Dr. Morgester’s office in 1995 was a single amber-screened computer at the front desk. The practice made the best of the situation for a solid five years when, in 2000, the doctor and staff got sick of inefficiencies such as taking appointments by hand.

“One day, we had three patients show up for the same appointment and neither of them were the person actually written into the appointment book,” Dr. Morgester remembered with a laugh. “Since then, with every new technology purchase we’ve made, we’re looking for things that will help save costs or drive revenue. Eaglesoft Practice Management Software ensures that we never have a scheduling problem again, but it also helps us be more efficient in how we work with patients.

RevenueWell, which is relatively new to our practice, is already handling the work that would otherwise require hiring two more front office staff. Or, installing my CEREC and inLab MC XL unit helped me to save close to $7,000 on lab bills right off the bat.”

Just as important, technology helps him to be transparent with his patients. There are all the things they don’t see - like how their portable information can get to a specialist before they do - but it is more about what they do see: intraoral scans, digital x-rays, intraoral camera shots or crowns being made. Patient education has also become a much more interactive experience thanks to CAESY Cloud Patient Education.

Dental hygienists can pull out an iPad, iPod or smartphone and walk through a treatment presentation. What surprised members of the team is how patients would get so excited that they would then scroll through other educational videos, eager to start the next one - something that rarely happens via a television interface.

“The way that it breaks down for us is that technology allows our front office to be all about the patient experience and efficiency, while the back office is more centered on cost savings and revenue,” Dr. Morgester explained.

If there is one critical lesson that Dr. Morgester has learned in the “cost savings approach,”  it’s that you sometimes have to spend money to save money.

“The best example of this is purchasing Patterson Dental hardware to run Eaglesoft and other programs. We’ve experienced going with the cheaper hardware, but run into all sorts of other problems in terms of support and a fundamental lack of understanding of our core needs as a practice,” he said. “It is worth paying a little more to get hardware through Patterson because you have one point of contact for support, it is customized for your needs, and installation takes one day instead of three days. It is worth it.”

Know why you do this
Dr. Morgester grew up in the Chesterfield area and was intentional about choosing to stay and serve the community he knows so well. In many cases, this kind of set-up can lead to a certain amount of complacency - you’re treating people you’ve grown up with and because they like you, they know you, it’s easy to rely on the strength of personality rather than service or results.

Morgester Dental takes the opposite approach. Being rooted in the community has ingrained a desire to bring the best possible level of care to the women and men in the practice. Where technology helps make that possible, they are willing to learn and, in some cases, willing to lead the way.

Staying on the cutting edge is something that can be intimidating for team members, but the staff of Morgester Dental not only takes it in stride but sees the different innovations as a means to staying motivated and current in their profession. It is a testament to the Morgester commitment to proper training and selecting technology that matters, that much of the staff has been with the practice for 10 years or more.

In the end, if there is one main take-away from the Morgester Dental team, it is that technology done well means having a good strategy for what the practice needs, the right motivation in terms of who that technology serves, and the right attitude in terms of delivery and promotion. This should, of course, be customized to your practice goals, but Dr. Morgester and his outstanding team certainly set a path worth following with the help of Patterson Dental.