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Laura Dorr is the former executive editor of DPR's Modern Dental Network and a regular contributing author.
Dental Lab Products talks with Chad Mueller of Link Lab about his lab's recent experience working with LabStar, a cloud-based lab management system.
More and more, dental laboratories rely on software to help manage their business and their case load. From streamlining workflows to ensuring tight turnarounds, management software can help take a laboratory to the next level.
One recent innovation in management software is the ability to take the software to the cloud. Cloud-based software allows you to have a web-based portal to keep your data accessible without any major hardware upgrades. For many labs, moving to a cloud solution has been a game-changer. We recently spoke with one lab about their experience using LabStar, one of the leading cloud-based lab management solutions. Here's what we found:
Located in Austin, Texas, Link Lab was founded by Chad Mueller in 2003. The lab has 13 employees and specializes in crown and bridge work. Link Lab partnered with another local lab, CRN Dental Technology, to form CRN Link Removable, which offers partials and dentures and other removable work. Together, the labs provide services to several hundred clients.
LabStar is cloud-based dental lab software that reportedly offers an all-in-one solution for managing dental labs. Because it is cloud-based, LabStar accounts can be accessed anytime and anywhere from any computer, tablet or smart phone. Features include workflow management, case scheduling, production line management, paperless billing, digital file transferring and more. LabStar is HIPAA-compliant and provides automatic free software upgrades.
Next page: The results of switching to LabStar ...
Before switching to LabStar last year, Link Lab used older software that had been around for a while, but as the lab grew and began offering removable services, the software was no longer practical for the evolving workflow.
The LabStar homepage offers easy access to case scheduling and tracking.
“We needed an easier way to track all the work in the lab,” Link Lab founder Chad Mueller explains. “I also wanted the technicians to arrive in the morning with work in place. I looked at several options and LabStar fit.”
The fit has definitely been a good one, streamlining the workflow and increasing communication within the lab, which are perks Mueller wholeheartedly appreciates.
“The lab is becoming more automated. Work moves through the lab much smoother than it did before,” he says. “We have also been able to refine workflows and identify areas of the lab that could be more efficient and make changes.”
The system has also helped Mueller identify his technicians’ capabilities. After the introduction of LabStar, computer and barcode scanners were placed at every technician bench, which provided information and data on how many units a particular technician can produce.
The case search results page helps users quickly find cases with regular and advanced search options.
“This helps us identify bottlenecks,” Mueller explains. “We can make adjustments where necessary.”
LabStar has also allowed Mueller to spend less time worrying about billing and accounting. The software offers time-saving tools, such as statement creation, integrated credit card payments, synchronization with QuickBooks and more.
“I liked the billing system and not having to pay for technician log-ins, as well as the user interface,” Mueller says. “The reality of the situation is I am receiving great service from a company that is working for me and not paying much for it. “
Next page: Switching with confidence ...
Switching from old software to cloud-based programs can be intimidating for lab owners, and Mueller was no exception. However, LabStar’s unlimited cloud storage, manufacturing and client portals and digital file transfer have made it easier to do business, and because it’s all on the cloud, Mueller can do business from anywhere. Thanks to these features, he has come to enjoy the benefits cloud-based software provides to him and his lab.
“I was a little worried about the cloud-based stuff, but I have come to appreciate it,” Mueller says. “We do not have to worry about data storage or broken computers. Being away from the lab is easier, also. I am able to log in on my phone and see what is being done.”
LabStar’s client portal allows your doctors to access online Rxs, print invoices and statements, pay by credit card and track shipments.
Mueller also says that, as a result of LabStar’s streamlined workflow, he is “able to accommodate more cases where expedited service is requested or necessary.”
He also expects that with time, LabStar will allow the lab to provide better communication with clients, faster service and on-time delivery of cases, which will help his lab grow even more.
“All of the tools we now have and the custom reports have helped us identify problem areas in the lab,” Mueller says. “When we run like the Mercedes F1 team driven by Lewis Hamilton, and we are close, we will actively seek new clients. LabStar is helping us with that. In the meantime, I will continue to work on my driving.”
LabStar’s production management dashboard shows the precise status of each case, as well as real-time task tracking.
As a result, Mueller is very complimentary of the team responsible for the development and upgrading of LabStar.
“Every update has made an already easy-to-use software more intuitive and easier to use,” he says. “They are attentive and are constantly updating the software. I really appreciate all the work the crew over at LabStar has put into its system. It is making my life less hectic. So, to the group at LabStar, keep it up!”