For dentists and their staff, patient comfort and experience are paramount. Many oral care facilities spend a significant amount of their annual budget on technology solutions for dentists to maintain patient confidentiality and to improve the flow of operations through the facility. The increased use of digital resources has a variety of challenges that must be overcome, from security considerations to the workflow of how data moves from workstation to workstation and is accurately maintained over time.
In the past, patient personal and financial data was stored onsite on printed forms, making it much easier to follow HIPAA requirements for confidentiality. Today’s systems can be more vulnerable to hackers, but also add complexity that a small dental office may not be ready to tackle without support. The technology investments for dentists will continue to grow with the availability of 3D printers and the need for an expanded role for dental assistants. The shift to group practices for cost-sharing can also point to a need for digital collaboration. All of these trends are expected to continue or accelerate in 2019, providing a new era of efficiency in service and an improved patient experience.
Focus on Patient Experience
Patients have a lot of options when it comes to their dental care, making it crucial for dentists and their staff to focus on technology solutions for dentists that will improve the overall patient experience. This could be anything from a faster check-in process to allowing patients to fill out their paperwork online or on a tablet in the office. Simplifying patient forms can go a long way towards reducing the overall frustration patients feel as well as reducing the amount of work for office staff. Today’s dentists are more likely to create a spa-like atmosphere in the office, in order to offer their patients a more personalized visit. Digital marketing systems can capture not only whether a patient needs a filling the next time they come in, but also whether they prefer a specific type of toothpaste or even personal information that will help hygienists relate to their patients.
Expanded Use of Lasers
While lasers have been used in dentistry since 1994, it’s likely that 2019 will see their use expanded even further. While the American Dental Association (ADA) hasn’t recommended the use of lasers in dental procedures, they are often used in instances where dentists need to minimize pain and bleeding during treatments to the soft tissue and to slice a small area of the mouth to treat canker sores or for a biopsy. Lasers are often used in tooth whitening procedures as a way to add heat and boost the effects of bleaching agents. Not only does the use of lasers reduce the discomfort that patients may feel during a procedure, but they also help dentists complete their tasks more efficiently.
Integrated Billing and Scheduling Systems
Integrated insurance and billing systems can be one of the biggest headaches for office staff — and ultimately for dentists. Understanding how these various systems fit together can be challenging, especially for a small practice without a full IT staff on hand to handle the technology needs of the office. As systems become more complex and insurance rules change, systems must be flexible enough to provide patients with a clear and understandable breakdown of the services. A fully integrated system will allow dental assistants and hygienists to schedule appointments while the patient is still in the dentist’s chair, saving time and expediting the experience for patients. All of this digital coordination requires time and attention from a dedicated technology staff in order to ensure that everything works seamlessly together.
Managing Online Reviews
With the heavy level of competition for patients in many cities, dentists and their business teams need to be more aware than ever before of the power of online reviews. A negative review could have a heavy impact on your business — and not in a good way! Understanding what it takes to maintain a positive rating average with the various community-based platforms can go a long way towards helping dentists meet their business goals and objectives. Tackling poor online reviews can take time and energy away from other revenue-generating opportunities, but keeping your digital persona positive is crucial in today’s highly-connected world.
The Rise of 3D Printing
Creating a mold of a patient’s teeth used to be an extended process that involved casting their mouth and sending away for a detailed three-dimensional model of their teeth. Today, 3D printing is on the cusp of breaking through the dental industry barriers and becoming a much more approachable technology — especially for larger dental offices or groups. The 3D printers and materials are still relatively expensive, but the fine details that printed resin allow for can be leveraged in a variety of ways in a dental practice.
Here are a few of the ways dentists can use 3D printers:
- Printing detailed and exact implants
- Oral treatments for sleep apnea
- Permanent ceramic dental restorations
Dentists are often on the cutting edge in terms of the Xrays and photography that are used in the office, requiring a fast and efficient network and systems that are fully integrated and secure. The many technology solutions for dentists that are up-and-coming in the future are exciting and have the potential to revolutionize the patient experience for the future. Want to learn more about dental technology and how your practice can expand your use of tech, attract new patients and increase your overall profit potential for the future? Contact SymTec today at (435) 817-9471 to learn more about the IT services and technology solutions that are available specifically for the dental industry.