The High-Tech Computerized Office: Is it Worth the Price of Admission?
By Dr. Brian D. Miller
When you start out in practice, whether you purchase, become an associate or start from scratch, you will be faced with many decisions. Most likely, one of your biggest concerns will involve office computerization. After speaking with several other practitioners, I have concluded that it is a very personal issue. When I go to meetings, I hear people speak of becoming paperless, and inevitably someone sitting near me snarls at the idea because they have experienced an office-wide shutdown courtesy of a computer glitch. Others say they could never live without their digital systems. So the question is, how much is enough and can there be too much? Furthermore, what advice would be helpful to someone just getting started?
The following is some advice from my own personal experience:
- Find someone to take care of your system who actually knows what they are doing. There are so many people out there who claim to be “experts” in information technology. You may spend some serious cash only to find out later that you have wasted thousands of dollars and you need to start over. If you use a friend or family member who dabbles in computers, you may just get what you pay for.
- Don’t overwhelm your staff with too many things at once. Unless your entire staff is under the age of 25, they may not all be computer savvy. I know clinicians who have had to hire instructors from junior colleges to teach their staff how to use basic computer applications. In addition, many people are resistant to change. The impact of trying to migrate the mindsets of existing staff to a new boss and a new way of performing their jobs, could seriously affect the overall mood and flow of your practice.
- Always look for ways to increase efficiency. For example, after spending many hours doing case write-ups in my orthodontic practice, I found a computer program that has dramatically simplified the process.
- Don’t scare your patients away with too much at once. For the most part, people are impressed with technology. However, there are some patients who may be intimidated by jumbo LCD screens everywhere, especially after giving them your fees.
I hired a local firm that exclusively specializes in dental practices to take care of my computer systems. Here are some of their tips:
- Rely on the experts. Just like with dentistry, the general public should rely on the experts when it comes to technology. Particularly when any small business like a dental practice is so heavily reliant on using computers and technology to run their business, the impact of not having someone proficient, reliable, responsive and professional to help support their business can really be the difference between the success and failure of the venture as a whole. Practice management software and other tools related to digital radiograph and imagery are very different than what you’ll find in the general information technology world.
cut corners. Like anything in life, doing things “right”
always has a greater impact on the final outcome of any project. The
amount of time, money and aggravation any dental professional will
inevitably experience due to lack of quality in workmanship will
far outweigh the cost of doing it right from the beginning.
Whatever direction you may take it always helps to get the advice of those who have been there before.