Many dental practices are still sticking to their paper routines because they have some very powerful concerns when it comes to transitioning to a paperless practice. Let’s shed some light on these common concerns and see what can be done to overcome them.
Our paper chart system works fine, why change?
There is no question about it – your current paper-based system has been tuned, tweaked, and improved over the years and everyone in the office is familiar and comfortable with it. Besides, busy days in the practice leave little time to implement new systems, so why change?
The answer to this question will come individually to each practice. Converting to a paperless practice may be different for each practice. Consider your pain points. What activities take up a lot of your team’s time? How could this time be used better to grow your practice? What areas of your practice would you like to improve? How would utilizing digital technology help resolve some of these issues?
Keep in mind that while your paper chart system may not be your biggest concern right now, it’s the inefficiencies and time-consuming manual processes that prevent your team from working on the things that are important to you.
For example, in one practice, the time saved by not having to print, scan, and shred paper forms would be better spent on reaching out to inactive patients and filling the hygiene schedule. In another practice, the time saved from having to pull, file and hunt down missing paper charts, would be spent on catching up with past due insurance claims. In a third practice, the ability to present and sign treatment plans chairside on an iPad would allow more patients to accept and start same-day treatment. Of course, most practices would realize multiple benefits as they utilize digital technology and become more efficient and effective.
Not everyone is comfortable with technology. Will it slow everyone down?
Patients will notice and be impressed by your switch to a digital office. They will love having the ability to fill out forms from home, so no time is wasted at your office. They can update their file on an iPad when they come in instead of completing paper forms each visit. There is no need to enter duplicate information every time. The check-in process is quicker, which makes for less wait time and a faster appointment. Sure, as with anything new, there is always a learning curve. You should expect some delays in the beginning, but soon your office will be humming along smoothly.
My staff is not tech-savvy. Will they be able to adopt the new technology with ease?
Unlike the younger generations that are considered “digital natives” and are comfortable trying new software and new systems, your older employees might be more reluctant to embrace new technology. That said, it does not mean that your practice shouldn’t enjoy the benefits of new technology. With many people working well into their senior years, it’s important that they adapt to new technologies. Older employees may have a different learning style and knowledge gaps than your younger team members. Rather than leaving your low-tech employees to figure things out on their own, offer ongoing training. Such training does not have to be expensive or time-consuming. From online courses to community college offerings, there are a lot of low-cost options to help your employees become more comfortable with technology. They will likely to be grateful that you care enough about them to help them grow. Keep in mind that becoming more comfortable with technology will help these employees take advantage of many other benefits of a computerized practice. And the benefits may expand far beyond the workplace.
While these concerns are powerful, we need to remember at the end of the day that it’s about being as efficient in our dental practices as possible. Creating a paperless practice may seem like a daunting task at first, but it will streamline workflow and eliminate the unnecessary busy work. No one wants to be tied down printing, scanning, and shredding documents all day when providing great patient care is our primary concern.
This article is an excerpt from our newest eBook, “Your Journey to a Paperless Practice.”