A visit to the dentist is often a poor experience, especially for patients getting a painful treatment such as a tooth extraction or a root canal. Often, their stress over the treatment itself is compounded by the hassle of setting the appointment, filling out endless forms, and getting asked the same questions over and over by the dental staff. But by improving your processes with IT tools, you can make it easy for patients to set appointments and obtain their dental records, as well as shorten their wait times.
Beyond improving your patients’ experience, improving efficiency with IT tools can also reduce costs, minimize stress, and increase revenue. Let’s take a look at some of the digital tools that can help you achieve all these things.
Retrieving printed health records is a hassle for staff, and printouts can easily be misfiled or lost to termites, fire, or other natural disasters. These concerns can be avoided by digitizing your documents. Digital documents offer the following benefits:
- Easy-to-track historical data
Since paper records can be lost, gaps may form in a patient’s history or dentists may miss the latest information about a patient. Digital records are easier to preserve, especially since you can automatically create backup copies and store them in another server.
- Instant and automatic data syncing
Wherever a patient’s electronic health record (EHR) is updated, the data is synced across all platforms. This means that the front desk administrator and the dentist’s assistant will see the same information, preventing miscommunication when discussing that patient’s case. You will also see any updates from previous health institutions, ensuring you will have a holistic view of your patient’s situation.
- EHR access restrictions
Only authorized personnel can access patient records, which are protected by HIPAA.
Beyond EHRs, you can also use digital documents to keep standardized procedures. This could include scripts for how front desk staff should answer the phone and protocols for gathering information before bringing a patient to the dentist’s chair. And speaking of gathering information, you can also build online forms so that it’s easy to create and maintain patients’ account records, and to obtain reviews and feedback from patients.
Setting an appointment doesn’t have to feel like pulling teeth, so in addition to letting patients call the front desk, offer them online appointment scheduling. Not only is this more convenient for them, but this also helps reduce your front office staff's workload.
For example, digital scheduling can be combined with automated text, email, and phone call appointment reminders. And when patients join an automated waitlist for open appointment slots, they get notified of earlier appointment times when others cancel their appointments. Not only will getting earlier time slots please patients, but you also get to reduce downtime — and less downtime means more income for you.
Online appointment scheduling is also useful to dentists when it is integrated with patient management software. Dentists can easily check what their patient needs just by looking at the EHR, so they can schedule several treatments for one visit, as well as plan multiple visits if continual treatment is required.
Last but not least, digital scheduling allows your practice to be more time-efficient via block scheduling. That is, instead of treating all hours as the same and switching between invasive procedures and routine ones like cleaning, you can set aside blocks of time for the same or similar types of treatment. For instance, a dentist might want to perform surgical procedures on Monday mornings, then decompress in the afternoon by doing general cleaning. Another may prefer providing orthodontic services on Tuesdays, then restorative dentistry on Thursdays.
Inventory management software
It’s important to keep important items in stock. To illustrate, your practice can’t run out of anesthetics, especially when painful procedures such as root canals are scheduled. Inventory management software can help your staff track the supplies they used after each procedure to ensure timely replenishment.
These technologies can offer immense benefits to your dental practice, but only when they’re optimized to meet the particular needs of your business. For help in implementing these and other digital tools, rely on Healthy IT. Contact us today to learn more.