Good charting software has many features. One of the most important is that it eliminates all paper. That means the software must accommodate all the bits of paper data that accumulate in a chart and it must have a method of importing virtually anything either with a scanner or file import function. If some bit of paper possibly a lab slip or patient letter must be stored in a folder then you have lost one of the primary benefits of an electronic chart.Continue Reading
Times are changing fast and technology is the primary driver of change.
You will Lose Your job to Technology, Unless…
For years I skated around the worry that technology would take jobs away from dentists and dental staff. I can no longer make that claim. Your job in dentistry will go away or at least be severely limited by technology in the future. There is one sure fire way to ensure that you will still have a job in the high tech revolution. Become the
If you believe your job is to poke teeth with an explorer and take impressions you are fast becoming out of date. If you believe your job is to understand and use digital diagnostics and digital impressions then you are ahead of the pack.
If you believe your job is to pull charts and answer phones your job is in jeopardy. If on the other hand you believe your job is to maintain paperless charts and set up an online system to answer questions and take payments then you are secure.
The person who believes that their job is to understand and use technology effectively, can easily add new systems to the mix and embraces change will become indispensable; They will be an MVP the most valuable person in the office.
Here are three simple examples:
|Practice Staff Person||Practice Technologist|
|Pulls charts every day, spends time hunting for the lost chart then puts them all back again at the end of the day.||Knows the management software well enough to create and maintain completely paperless records.|
|Hands a clipboard to patients to fill out forms then re-enters all the information in the computer.||Sets up and uses online forms that synch with the electronic records. No paper and no dual entry.|
|Spends considerable time every day phoning and mostly leaving messages with patients to confirm (remind) them of an upcoming appointment.||Sets up and maintains an online e-service that sends daily reminders with no additional input from office staff.|
It is vitally important that the dentist understand the technology available to the office. As the practice leader the dentist needs to know what is possible in order to create a vision and lead the team.
Three days of Adventure C.E. that will change your practice, your Team, and your life!
Technology on the Rocks – May 18-20, 2017
2016 is the year to “Go Paperless”
Stop putting it off, going paperless can save you tens of thousands of dollars. Make it a New Year’s goal – paperless in 2016.
My comprehensive technology guide, “How to go paperless in the dental office” will answer the basic question…Why bother? It then provides step by step help in setting up a paperless office, including the eight essentials that need to be in place before you get started, four ways to digitize stuff, and front deskless workflow. There is even a budget and financial analysis that shows how your current paper system is costing you over $40,000!
“How to go paperless in the dental office” will answer all your questions, provide a plan and show you how to save money… all delivered in a fun and easy to understand style.
Paper charts don’t just appear in the office for free. The paper folder and all the other papers cost about $2.50 each. If you have 2500 charts they cost you at least $6,250 to create and every time a new patient walks in it’s another two-fifty; cha-ching.
Other chart contents, like X-Rays and photographs can be even more costly. A set of bitewings with film, processing and mounts can be a dollar or two. A photo printed from the intraoral camera is $1.50 or more. It is reasonable to add at least another $2.00 to the cost of each chart for these contents adding another $5,000 to the cost.
Storing the records isn’t free either. A typical office with 2500 charts will need three or four full size lateral files to hold them all. Depending on how nice the files are they will cost about $4,000 and could be a lot more. They will take up office space costing another $550 per year. Plus all the “inactive” charts stashed away somewhere else?
So far our inexpensive paper files are costing us $15,800, but that’s not the total cost. There is the human effort to make the chart, type the label, arrange the contents, file new bits when they arrive in the mail, write the notes, pull the charts every day and then re-file them. And of course there is the daily ritual of the lost chart, which no one can find only to have it turn up days later either misfiled or hiding in a stack on the doctor’s desk. The human cost is at least $11,520 per year.
What we have is a paper chart system that is really quite expensive costing $15,800 to create and $11,520 per year to maintain for a total of $27,320.
One of the common mistakes dentists make with electronic charting is that they only go part way. Sometimes we miss the obvious, it is the old “can’t see the forest for the trees.” In this case the trees are the individual processes that can be used to create digital information. The forest is the paperless record. If all you see are trees then you might use an electronic chart for treatment planning but make progress notes on paper. You might install a digital radiograph system and not link it to other records. You might have a computer up front for finances and scheduling but don’t have computers in the back for charting.
The tendency is to concentrate on individual processes or technologies without integrating the process into the whole.
For example: The office may use a paper chart in the treatment room during diagnosis to mark future treatment. Then they take the paper chart to the computer and enter everything again. They will use the computer to create an estimate, insurance forms and schedule. Then they will go back to the paper chart to enter procedure notes, back to the computer to take a payment, back to paper for a prescription, back to the computer for the next appointment then back to paper to check the x-rays.
What the office ends up with is a mess. Everything is done at least twice, the paper chart is still needed no one is ever sure if something is on paper or in the computer. As a result the computer chart doesn’t save time and money it makes things worse.
Another mistake is to gather digital information, such as photographs, but store it in separate dental software that is not part of the patient’s digital record. To be most effective the digital information must be all part of the same record using either a fully integrated system or linking each system using computer bridges.
Time and again the dental office has everything in place to go paperless but they still make paper just because that is the way they have always done it. Overcoming the inertia of change is frequently the most difficult task of going paperless.
There is also an element of fear. Often it is the dentist but it may be the staff; one or the other is afraid of what they do not know, the future, so they hold on to what is known, the past.
For more help on creating a paperless record look here.