<a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/mikeuretz?rel=author" rel="author">Mike Uretz</a> is a 30-year technology veteran and nationally-recognized Healthcare software and Electronic Health Records (EHR) expert. Mike has consulted with hundreds of practices and multi-clinic groups to help them properly evaluate and select their software solutions, structure and negotiate contracts, and provide management and oversight for their implementations.

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Prioritize Vendor Training for ROI

software ROI
Training from your software vendor is a crucial step to successful use and ROI on software investments. In my experience, many practices, especially small ones, think that they can read the manual and self-train and get the benefits of their software. However, many times dissatisfaction with software is actually a lack of training. Many practices don’t use all the relevant features, or use them wrongly, and therefore spend much more time and effort on tasks than needed.

When selecting software, asking around is a common method to figure out if software will work for you. Talking to other users, checking references and finding out about the user experience is valuable.  However, dentists need to recognize that few dental practices prioritize vendor training and make the most of it. Further, at any particular software vendor, there may be several trainers and there may have been changes/upgrades in software. Furthermore, practices that use a software may have purchased the wrong software or not allowed enough time for their own training.

In addition, training from a vendor is the first step in a two-way relationship. Establishing the importance of the software in daily work is necessary both internally to the practice and to create a channel of communication with the vendor. Ideally, a practice has selected the best software for their needs, and will use that software for years to come. To build a strong, ongoing relationship, practices need to treat vendor training as a mechanism for setting up communication channels, providing feedback and important information. The trainer often becomes the go-to person, the key link in the communication chain for practices to understand upgrades, communicate unique needs and problems, and receive important information from the vendor.

Using your software fully demands deep knowledge, and trainers can provide personalized information about the nuances and features. Communicate with the vendor and trainer; don’t suffer in silence, and don’t expect the vendor to read your mind.

In small and large practices, the organization must value the training and be committed—even if that is hard to do. Treat training as an obligation and an opportunity that you have paid for.

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Secure-Mail Protects Dentist-Patient Confidentiality


Many of the work processes in dentistry are from the era of dentists meeting patients in the exam room, recording items on clipboards, and calling other dentists or doctors where necessary. Trust is and always has been a cornerstone of the dentist-patient interaction, but in the digital era, that trust goes along with a culture of data sharing.

High quality digital imaging available for consultation, patient records and doctor collaborations allows dentists to participate in the ecosystem of health data around American patients. As the oral-systemic health connection continues to be recognized, collaborative tools and demands will keep pace with technology and allow dentists to communicate patient data to interested parties.

But protecting the patient’s trust, and personal data, requires specific steps to protect and safeguard that data. Between HIPAA, HI-TECH and PIPEDA, regulations continue to develop and constrain what can be shared, and how. Many dentists do not realize that emailing referrals or images to laboratories can be illegal and break HIPAA compliance.

Software and technology have stepped into this gap. Secure email is offered by different providers to allow dentists to safely, securely share information without breaking the law or compromising patient trust. These out-of-the-box solutions offer immediate compliance and security, operating with existing clinical and practice management systems. Examples include BrightSquid’s Secure-Mail, and RecordLinc‘s referral services. Dental practices can modify behaviors and learn to operate in a HIPAA-compliant fashion, but for those short on time, a technology solution may be a faster and more realistic step.

Lessons Learned:

  • No conventional email solution is secure or compliant for transferring or accessing patient information.
  • Out-of-the-box secure communications systems can be added to existing software to meet HIPAA and patient privacy needs.
  • Collaboration and patient data sharing is likely to continue to rise.

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