Plugging in to go green

March 21, 2012

Making your practice greener will do more than help save the planet. When properly implemented, a green office will save you money, make your office more efficient and make your patient data more secure. The biggest impacts in dental practice efficiency are achieved by going paperless. Here are a few tips you can use on your quest for a green office: Cord costs

Making your practice greener will do more than help save the planet. When properly implemented, a green office will save you money, make your office more efficient and make your patient data more secure. The biggest impacts in dental practice efficiency are achieved by going paperless. Here are a few tips you can use on your quest for a green office:

Cord costs

1. Purchase the right tools for scanning your incoming paperwork. Many of the offices we visit are using multifunction printers to do their document scanning. You know who you are; you bought your printer at a local office goods store and found out it could scan too. The problem with these low-end, multifunction devices is they are slow and cumbersome. We recommend either purchasing a copier with scanning capabilities or looking at the Fujitsu Scan Snap. The Scan Snap costs about $500 and can scan both the front and back sides of your document into an Adobe Acrobat PDF file at a whopping 30 pages per minute. Now that is efficient.

2. Invest in dual monitors. Studies have shown dual monitors increase efficiency for people performing clerical work by more than fifteen percent. The key here is your team members can now simultaneously open two different windows and copy information, drag and drop schedule items, or follow lists without printing out the paper. The efficiency is gained as people make fewer mistakes and no longer have to minimize and maximize application windows to perform data entry or other admin functions.

3. Shut down your computers at night. On average a computer with an LCD monitor consumes about 112 KWh per month of electricity. That is two and a half times as much as the average refrigerator! The average cost to run a computer for an entire year is about $161. If you turn the computer off at night and on the weekends, that price drops to about $43 per year.

  • When turning your computer off at night check in with your computer service provider. At Dynamic Edge, we perform nightly maintenance on our customers’ computers; therefore we offer a service to turn our customers’ computers off for them after the maintenance is performed.

  • NOTE: Do not power off your server to save on electric consumption. Your server performs many processes at night and turning if off may increase your risks of data loss. Some dental practices share their practice management software off a workstation. If this is the case, make sure you are treating that computer like a server. We do not recommend you use a workstation to serve off your practice management software.

4. Replace any of those big bulky CRT monitors you have around the office. You may think you are saving money by keeping that old monitor on the server, but the average CRT monitor uses about 3 times as much energy to run as an LCD monitor. When you look at yearly energy consumption costs, an LCD monitor pays for itself in about a year.

5. Measure your power consumption and know your biggest offenders. You can find out which electronic gadgetry is using up the most power by purchasing a simple power meter-we like the one by P3 called Kill A Watt™. You simply purchase this $40 device and plug it into the wall, then plug your electronic device into it and measure the consumption for a day or two. It will then calculate your energy costs for you. Another way to address this topic is The Energy Detective's TED5000-C; this little gem easily installs in your office power breaker box and measures your entire office’s power consumption. This is a great way to measure your green impact.

Green safety

Now that we’ve reviewed some simple steps to help you save money and become more efficient, you might ask how can becoming greener have an impact on your office’s security? Going paperless allows you to:

1. Stop worrying about the cleaning people seeing your patients PHI (protected health information). By digitally storing all of your information on your computers and properly setting up your security, you can stop worrying about your data ending up in the wrong hands. Here are some things to think about:

  • make sure your workstations lock automatically

  • make sure patients cannot see monitors in the operatories

  • and make sure your security settings are properly set so your staff only has access to the PHI pertinent to their responsibilities.

2. Create an offsite copy of all of your charts. The most valuable asset of any dental practice is its patient list and patient history. Going paperless allows you to back up this information and take if off site for safekeeping. According to HIPAA law, you are required to have an offsite copy of your records and be able to store them for 6 years. The easiest way to accomplish this is to go paperless.

If you are interested in learning more about the issues associated with going paperless, please check out our upcoming free Webinars on the “12 Biggest Mistakes Found in Dental Practices” by visiting www.dentalcomputerhelp.com. If you haven’t started planning for the HIPAA HITECH law, consider our seminars at dentaladvisor.com. We will share with you the steps you can take to protect your data and stop worrying about computer issues forever.

About the author

Bruce McCully is a national expert in the areas of computer security and business technology. He began his career in computer networking and security 16 years ago, and after founding Dynamic Edge in 1999, started supporting dental offices in 2002. Today, Dynamic Edge has 25 employees and services more than 300 clients. While serving as the CEO of Dynamic Edge, Mr. McCully provides training nation-wide on computer security, disaster preparedness and HIPAA compliance. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering from The University of Michigan, and has received countless awards and recognition for business growth, innovation, and philanthropy.