There’s much to be said for going digital and ditching the burden of paperwork, but not all benefits of a paper-free office are instantly obvious. To address the most compelling arguments for digitizing the dentist’s office, here are three big benefits you can expect. When you incorporate practice management software into your business, you’ll start seeing game changers in your work that go beyond throwing out your filing cabinets and collapsible bookcases.
- A Helping Hand for Your Business
Even if your day-to-day is spent focused on your patients, it’s likely that the business side of running a practice occupies most of your thoughts. DIAC’s 2018 Future of Dentistry Survey Report says that 78% of dentists are focused on billing and overhead more than anything else, with patient growth and retention a close second for 75% of doctors. These two topics clearly represent key indicators for an independent dentist.
Billing before the Internet was typically an in/out tray of inventory management, insurance numbers scribbled on a patient’s file, and a constant set of reminders left for the end of the day or week. Software can not only replace the hand-written submissions for payment, but in many cases, automate them. Rather than manually keying in insurance claims, practice management software can turn a completed treatment into a claim and submit it to the insurance in just a few clicks. Inventory that watches its own capacity can automatically generate its own reports, bills, and even offer vendor price comparisons when stock is detected as being low.
For those that are concerned about cancelled appointments and unexpected openings in their schedule, there are currently many studies that show calling them directly won’t get the response you expect. As people move away from their phone and closer towards email and text as their preferred communication channel, the ability to send out SMS or email updates is the perfect means to communicating with your patients where they are.
- Streamlining Everyone’s Workflow
If you’ve yet to consider how much time you spend retrieving information, imagine instantly opening up records, x-rays, or reference material without leaving your patient’s side. While about one-third of dentists today still rely on paper in their approach to health care, many are starting to see the time-savers involved in reliably accessing the information right when they need it.
This benefit doesn’t start and stop with patient profile review. Reception benefits from an integrated system by receiving changes to a patient’s treatment as they’re entered into a file. Changes to their follow-up appointments are made by clicking and dragging schedules that also send out those helpful SMS updates for appointments. The reality is that a single system that’s integrated into all of your necessary services increases your office’s ability to respond and multi-task while cutting down on the risk of error or miscommunication.
- Cost Savings and Planning
IT infrastructure can be perceived as an arduous upfront cost and a reason to stick with print, but maintenance and often forgotten charges are where you’ll find immediate results. If you suppose that a patient record is about $5 in materials alone, a healthy office is spending $6000 just to keep patient records on their books. Without including the cost of staff searching for records, updates or error correction in paperwork, you’ve got a massive amount of overhead that you might think insignificant at face value. Of course, this doesn’t even include printer ink or physical security mechanisms to protect the documents that are so important.
Savings don’t exclusively come from consolidation or electronic record keeping, but also monitoring costs. Being able to generate cost reports or statements on a daily or weekly basis lets you track your costs moment-to-moment. Complete integrations that incorporate expected income from scheduling, inventory costs, and payroll hours paint an exact portrait of your business’s performance, right down to the last cent.