Why Have a Digital Dental Practice?

Why Have a Digital Dental Practice?


Why Have a Digital Dental Practice?

I frequent the dental town message boards and was posed an interesting question after asking one myself, why have a digital dental practice?  A Dr had mentioned that he has the digital dental practice over film dental practice discussion  a lot and that he couldn’t justify spending the money to outfit his practice since he didn’t think he would see a return on it.  So I informed him that with our technology solution and staff training our doctors see a production increase of at least 15% within their practice and that the practices are able to cover the cost of equipment with the percentage increase.

Of course he rebutted with, “What jumps out at me immediately is “every practice that my company has transformed to a digital dental practice has seen a minimum of 15% production increase”  Certainly a 15 % increase would cover   an investment in digital.  I don’t understand how digital x-rays would result in any increase in productivity.  How do you figure?”

Here is my answer to that question.

Please keep in mind that the production increase is based on our offices that have a full technology solution outfitted in their practice including PCs in every operatory, 12 o’clock monitors, patient monitors, digital x-ray sensors, and intra oral cameras.

All of this technology in conjunction with our on-site staff training will assist you in increasing your production a number of different ways.

From Film to Digital:

Film in itself is time consuming.  Although it may only take a few minutes to develop an x-ray and those mere minutes seem minute and insignificant, how much are they really costing you?  Let’s say film takes 5 minutes per patient to process the x-rays and have them in your hands for diagnosis and let’s say that you take film on 5 patients per day.  This equates to 25 minutes per day, for a 5 day work week that’s 125 minutes or nearly 2 hours of your time spent on film x-rays alone every week.  That 2 hours per week that you’re spending on film could be replaced with 2 new patients per week.

Add to this the cost of film itself, chemicals to develop the film, staff time to process the film (don’t forget, employees get paid by the hour), and the time spent travelling the film around your office and into your hands; you can quickly see where you can reallocate this wasted time to more productive things than simply processing film x-rays.

Money costs aside think about how much more convenient it would be to view x-rays immediately after their taken by looking at them in the privacy of your office or at a central office PC (or any PC in the office).  As an added bonus you can even view a patients x-rays, chart, and intra oral images from home!

Advantages of Digital Intra Oral Imaging:

Personally, I feel like this is fairly obvious.  Let’s be honest, we’re all sales people here.  I am more of a tech guy than a sales person but I wouldn’t be able to make a living if I didn’t sell my services or product.  Although I do sell products, part of my vision with Sodium Systems is providing practices with a solution that provides them the ability to offer superior diagnostic capabilities and dental care while increasing their production (the two kind of go hand in hand).

My point here is that having intra oral cameras, digital radiography, and a dedicated patient monitor allows you to provide visual cues for everything that you are trying to offer your patients.  Your patient may have an amalgam with leaky margin, you as a dentist can of course see that material is getting under the amalgam, causing decay and is creating a cavity which would need to be removed, drilled out, and replaced… but can your patient see this?  To a patient looking in a mirror their filling looks fine, why would they be compelled to have you replace it?

By utilizing an intra oral camera and a patient monitor you are able to physically and immediately show your patient exactly what you are seeing.  With the magnification of the IO camera you can very clearly show any patient what a failing filling looks like and why it should be replaced as soon as possible.  What would your patient acceptance be if you were able to provide immediate imagery for your patients to better understand the problems occurring in their mouth?

Theorists say that more than 60% of the population are visual learners, needing a visual stimuli to truly grasp what is being taught to them.  With this theory in mind it’s easy to see why a lot of patients in practices without technology are reluctant to have work done right away or at all.  Dentistry before technology consisted of paper charts and film x-ray and a Dr who then processed the information and gathered and verbally presented the problems and solutions to the patient.  By only verbally communicating these things a door is open to the patient to decide in their mind that the work might not be important to have done that day or at all (out of site, out of mind kind of thing).  With intra oral imaging their problem areas are plastered on a giant TV monitor where all of the little nooks and cranny’s of their teeth are exposed for them to see and process within their minds.  If you show anyone a decaying tooth under an IO magnification I can almost guarantee you they will be impulsed to do something about it immediately rather than wait till the next time around.

Staff Training:

Every practice that we outfit will receive at least a full day of training.  This training creates a precedent for them to follow giving them a set of daily procedures that will show them how to increase production.

Staff training will include:

  • proper placement of digital sensors
  • how to hold an IO camera properly
  • how to take clear images
  • how to quickly take a full IO exam on a patient
  • how to utilize the IO patient exam by announcing problem areas in the mouth while taking images (this sparks patient interest which segway’s into the patient asking YOU for additional treatment minimizing your need to “sell dentistry”)
  • how to efficiently use your practice management software and image management software to create a consistent patient flow throughout your practice
  • and also to answer any questions they have about the new technology and to alleviate some of their stresses

The Bottom Line:

By utilizing digital technology in your practice you will create a much more stream lined and stress free work flow within your practice allowing you to be a better diagnostician and to continue taking pleasure in your life choice of helping people be more healthy and live longer more enjoyable lives.  You’ll be able to provide better dentistry while bettering your way of life whether it be taking more pride in your work, increasing production thus enabling you to take more time off to spend with your family, or keeping the same hours while increasing production and in turn increasing profits.

Thank you for reading.

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