By David R. Brown, DDS
Communication is crucial for any dental office juggling critical factors such as patient retention, timely reimbursement, and referrals. Communicating in a way that enhances employee performance and the patient experience can add value to the care provided. Our team has collected a few helpful technology tips, tools, and functions that we’ve found ensure the efficiency of a practice while strengthening relationships with satisfied patients.
"Measuring key performance indicators on a regular basis is a critical part of enabling practices to achieve their business growth goals," said Kevin Bunker, Vice President and General Manager for Henry Schein Practice Solutions. "Dentrix has always provided robust performance reporting capabilities. By consolidating KPIs from individual Dentrix reports into a single, comprehensive snapshot of the overall health of the practice, we can save our customers significant time in deciding which areas of their practice they can improve to make the greatest impact to their profitability."
We know patients value the interactions with their care providers. We employ an intraoffice paging system, BlueNote Communicator, that allows us to minimize interruptions during patient face-time and still communicate with our staff real-time.
With our paging system, every employee and every action has an assigned sound. For example, our front desk can signal the dental hygienist that the next patient has arrived, or I can signal a colleague to say that I have a patient who needs anesthetic — all with a non-disruptive alert. Each of us knows our assigned sound and all of the basic action sounds that signal where we need to go and the action required, all without even looking away from a patient. Our paging structure has minimized distractions, which allows us to have more focused, quality time with our patients.
As mobile devices have become helpful tools in the home and office, practices like ours also benefit from iPad integration. Our staff uses iPad integration with Dentrix practice management software, which has made processes such as check-ins and forms fast and paperless. Files can be completely and automatically organized, and the need for paper files is virtually eliminated.
Another iPad application we use is the dental demo suite for general practitioners called DDS GP. DDS GP allows me to educate patients through video animation and pictures. The program helps me explain different conditions and treatment options. For example, I can start and stop animations of what the future progression of a root canal will look like. Additionally, it allows me to show patients various treatment options in an understandable way. Better informed patients have an easier time making decisions, and this relieves much of their anxiety.
Other staple technologies, such as an office phone system, can be designed to integrate individual patient records, which pop up on a computer screen when that patient calls. We use the Dentrix-integrated OfficeSuite Dental phone system so that any time patients call, our front office can reference notes such as their history, prescriptions, account balance, and appointment before even answering the phone. This helps us hold informed conversations with patients while efficiently addressing their needs. Our staff also receives automatic alerts for critical things such as missed appointments and what pre-medications patients need. The range of phone system features designed for dental practices helps us keep track of all aspects of our patients’ accounts. Features like voicemail and email make it easy for our staff to work from home when needed, as well.
Efficiencies in communicating with external suppliers save our team members time and resources. We use a representative and tag system from Burkhart Dental Supply that ensures anytime a product supply gets low, our representative is informed and automatically refills it for the practice. The representatives come in every other week, and we never run out of anything.
David R. Brown, DDS, is the owner of Dr. Brown Dental in Yakima, Wash. The practice offers a full range of state-of-the-art dental care services in a comfortable, family environment. For more information, visit www.drbrowndental.com or call 509-966-0303.