Going Digital In Your Dental Practice

A Guide To the Dos and Don’ts of Going Digital In Your Practice

A Simple Guide For the Dos and Don’t of going digital in your dental practice

Step 1 Getting quotes from the Big 3 isn’t like getting 3 separate quotes, they all tend to only sell the high priced options of things so when they offer quotes to you it appears like all options are roughly the same price, but there are 5 times as many options as most of them will ever mention to you.

Step 2 Determine your practice management software choice. If you already have a practice management it may be easiest to continue to use it. If you are starting from scratch I would suggest considering a software like Open Dental. There is a big advantage to going with a Practice Management software solution that is not tied to one of the Big 3 supply companies. You do not want a software package that comes from a company that will use that software as leverage to influence your purchasing decisions.

Step 3 Going digital in your dental practice has a lot to do with your digital imaging software choice.Using a software like Xray Vision from Apteryx does not require you pay a yearly support fee to get software updates. Using Xray Vision is our choice because it is not tied to any other company as far as hardware. The company does their best to work with every sensor device and every practice management option. Having options is always the best way to insure you get the best service and price. If a company can lock you into their software, their hardware, and so on then they have a way to force you to keep paying the prices they want.

If you pick the right practice management and the right image management you have already solved 90% of the issues of going digital. If you pick Dentrix or Eaglesoft then you can look forward to Schein and Patterson making many of your purchasing decisions for you.

Step 4 – Computer Systems

Determine your number of systems in your practice to determine your server needs. If you have 12 or less than your server should cost under 3000$ and should not be a Server Operating system. Instead I suggest you use a Workgroup Server that also serves double duty as the doctors personal computer in the office or a back office system. Essentially a system that can be used lightly and isn’t easily accessible to the public.

If you have more than 12 computers then you should use a server operating system and domain setup. The system should not cost more than 5500$

For More information on how to pick your server see my Pick Your Server Guide

As for the workstation and operatory computers we do not build them. If an IT professional offers to build you computers for your office then you most likely have the wrong IT professional. No system builder builds enough machines to work out the bugs in their parts choices as well as the big system builders can. Also, no system builder can supply a 3 year or 5 year warranty like Dell can with a next business day guarantee.

The trick to buying Dell is to not purchase the cheaper home user versions like the Vostro series. We always use the business lines like the Optiplex series and we always use at least the middle of the processor options. Many people end up with bad Dell computers because their IT guy picked the least amount of RAM, the lowest grade processor and the onboard video card so they could have more markup on their sale.

When it comes to monitors in operatories the important thing is to avoid track mounts or expensive ceiling mounts for getting small screens closer to the patient. Instead, mount a 32” lcd to the wall and to the ceiling and a 12 oclock behind the patient and tie these all into one computer. These 3 monitors will cost less than the traditional track mounted monitor with medical grade monitor.

Network is your next concern. Always run category 6 network cables from the network closet all the way to the computer operatories, front desk PCs and network printers. Many IT companies get lazy and daisy chain switches so they can run one long network run and branch off multiple PCs. This always leads to network slow downs and problems in the future. Absolutely do not use wireless as a network options.

Digital X-Ray sensors are the next most important decision to make. Dexis 12K$ per sensor plus 8K$ for Dexis Image includes a 1 year warranty and additional years warranties are 1500$ per year per sensor. We do not suggest the big names in sensors, Schick, Dexis, Gendex and Kodak are all greatly over priced and in our experience of repairing sensors the only big difference we have found is price not quality. The QuickRay sensor which is the same sensor as the XDR is a direct to USB sensor, modeled after the Dexis Platinum is $5,300 for a size 2 and $4,300 for a size 1. These sensors take great images, are comfortable and are priced well. The imaging software (Xray vision) is around 3500$ with 10 licenses.

If you would like us to quote out the job based on these specs please tell us how many operatories, front desk stations, and private offices the practice has. Also, please tell us the max number of Hygienists and doctors working at any one time.

So the Do’s simplified
-Do get business grade computer systems made by a major brand with a manufacturers warranty longer than 3 years
-Do get quotes from more than supply companies
-Do use a WIRED network with Category 6 Cable In Your Office Punched down into a punchdown panel and keystone wall jacks
-Do get Gigabit Network Switches
-Do shop your digital xray sensor options by PRICE and WARRANTY from more than the supply companies
-Do get a FIRM QUOTE with exact labor charges
-Do get a Color Network Laser printer (Fast and Affordable Printing – Inkjets are cheaper upfront Pricier long term)

So the Don’ts simplified
-Don’t let sales people use words like cheap, unknown, untested to make you FEEL like you don’t have the right to consider different options
-Don’t let fear make your purchase decisions
-Don’t forget to see the bottom line and add up all the costs
-Don’t forget to know the value of your own time vs trying to be your own IT guy
-Don’t forget that the weakest link of the chain determines the strength of the whole chain, don’t sacrifice quality on computers to spend money on other technology
-Don’t believe that because a lot of people make a bad decision that it is a good decision, otherwise that would mean that McDonalds has the best burgers in the world

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