The Future of Digital Dentistry for Dental Practices
As a dental professional, you pride yourself on delivering the highest caliber of dentistry. To continue putting your patients first, being proactive is crucial as advances in dental technology are made, especially regarding digital dentistry.
Keeping up with advancements in technology within the industry can help improve your efficiency as a top professional. When considering your transition to digital dentistry, it is important to recognize the specific needs of the practice and how making the switch can help you reach your business goals.
Although the transition can be challenging, the investment and downtime required to successfully transition into new digital dental technology are well worth it in the long run. Here are the steps to allow for a smooth transition as we bring in the future of digital dentistry.
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1. Let Your Patients Know Early, and Market the Change to Them
Preparing your patients as soon as possible is not only setting the expectation that you are in a transition period, but can also create a sort of “buzz” within your practice about the new technology and dental services you may be able to provide.
You can start this process by explaining how your practice is keeping up with the future of digital dentistry to your patients through email communication or other marketing channels. By preparing your patients for the transition, you’ll spark interest in new technologies that are being incorporated while demonstrating the superior quality standard of care you can provide.
2. Prepare Your Staff for the Switch
You’ll want to discuss with your staff the positive effects your new digital dentistry will have on the success of the practice. Staff should understand the new technologies coming into the practice and have a sense of the future of digital dentistry and what it will bring to your practice.
Staff procedural operations and responsibilities may change, so it's important your staff knows they can ask questions and get support during the transition.
Some dental technology you may need to prepare your staff for include:
- Digitized impressions.
- 3D printing.
- CAD cam.
- Digital radiography.
It is also crucial for your staff to be trained across any and all new systems quickly to ensure a smooth transition from traditional to digital dental systems, and to promote continued efficiency throughout the transition process.
3. Prepare For A Learning Curve
A transition to digital dentistry means many changes beyond just having a computer and monitor in each room. Some of the additional equipment could include tools such as digital impression systems, digital x-rays, and digital smile design software.
Even if you and your staff are tech-savvy, learning digital dentistry is a process. Ensure you have the right expertise to help you through the transition. Consider hiring an IT Managed Service Provider (MSP) to help you not only get set up but also be there for continued support. By hiring an IT MSP, you will have a much smoother transition to digital dentistry, as well as the opportunity to ask any questions you may have during the transition or in the future.
4. CONSIDER HOW TO BUDGET
Going digital is expensive, bottom line. Be sure to consider the return on investment (ROI) of the new technology and equipment. Remember that your patients will value going to a dentist with state-of-the-art equipment and the ability to keep up with the latest trends in the dental industry. The increased productivity and efficiency will allow you to see more patients, and give them the best care possible, affordably. It shouldn't be a question of CAN you afford to go digital, but WHEN can you make the switch.
Staffing is another source of budgeting concerns. With a digital practice, you may find that your staff will have more time for continued education. If you are able to keep the same number of employees while increasing your productivity and efficiency, plan on cross-training employees to create value for them in other positions.
There are ways to break up the cost of incorporating digital technology in your dental practice. Work with your IT partner to see if you can digitize your practice in phases. Many vendors also have financing options, which can ease the initial financial burden.
5. Be Proactive
Expect that there will be bumps in the road and do your best to plan for them and how you'll respond. Even with additional help from an IT specialist and advanced preparation, there is no guarantee that everything will go perfectly when transitioning to digital dentistry.
By creating a plan for possible problems that may arise, you will have some peace of mind, and continued efficiency within the practice. Set up a plan that allows you to track the quality and progress of the integration of new dental technology.
As you transition to digital, determine the training and support you need to stay on track, improve productivity, enhance patient care, and of course, have a backup plan. Even if your patients are well aware of your transition period and are expecting some hiccups, be sure you have your traditional tools ready to use, all files and data saved, and staff aware of your plan just in case something falls through.
The Benefits of Transitioning to Digital Dentistry
The Transition to Digital Dentistry Will Allow You To:
- Save Time and Be More Efficient
All files, scans, and x-rays can be immediately sent to external labs, specialists, insurance providers, and pharmacies. Visits will be faster since images will be available instantly and you will be able to look at x-rays without waiting for them to be developed. New digital software can be used to make impressions, avoiding messy molds. Your dental practice will become more efficient.
- Predict Treatment Results
Smile design software can show patients what their cosmetic, orthodontic, or restorative procedures can do for them. Digital treatment planning can also reduce communication issues when discussing treatment plans.
- Early Intervention & Better Prevention
Digital detection systems allow you to find oral health concerns as soon as possible, which will allow you to provide treatment to your patients sooner, avoiding additional damage and more extensive treatment.
- Maintain Patient Records Safely
“Going paperless” with digital records will let you quickly reference patient files and past treatments so you can make the most accurate recommendations. Digital records will also ensure that paperwork and files will not be lost, and all information will be secure and private.
Finding the Right IT Service Provider
Through the transition to digital dentistry, you will be able to access files more quickly, and increase overall efficiency in your workplace. With the assistance of an IT specialist, the transition to digital dentistry does not need to be an added source of stress to you and your practice.
Do you know what to look for in a managed IT service provider? Download our checklist to learn if you’re making the best choice for your practice.