Dentistry used to be pretty stable on the technology front for many decades. Mirror, pick, pliers…manual drill. Designs slowly evolved, but through the course of a dentist’s career, he or she (usually a “he” back then!) would basically make use of the same tools and procedures with very little variation.
However, the confluence of electronic equipment and advances in treatment procedures has changed all that.
Now, it seems like every few weeks some new piece of high-tech gadgetry is released that’s set to “revolutionise” your dental practice. And new treatment procedures and approaches are being published several times per year in journals like the British Dental Journal.
So, in a world changing at such a rapid pace, how do you make sure your practice stays up to date?
Here are some of our recommendations:
Firstly, Go Paperless!
If you can make the transition to a paperless practice, you’ll enjoy large gains in efficiency across the board. Keep all client data stored on a central database, and share documents and images between staff over your intra-net or services like DropBox and Evernote.
Of course, some paper is probably necessary – new-patient and treatment consent forms, perhaps – but the idea is to use software to minimise paper usage, and thus decrease the friction it causes in your practice.
You’ll also make savings overall, once you’ve recouped the cost of the initial software.
You might as well make use of it in your marketing, too – paperless is sustainable and ecologically friendly, which you can point out in your brochures and leaflets. Patients like to know their dentists care about the well-being of their environment as well as their own.
If you opt for paperless, do make sure you back your data up periodically!
Stay Abreast of The Latest Treatments
Of course, you should be reading relevant journals on a periodic basis. Don’t be afraid to send senior dentists to the best conferences too – they might be costly, but oftentimes, they’re the best way to stay on top of the advances in your field, make contacts with the big players and stay up-to-date with the cutting edge advances in the world of dental treatments.
Watch Out for New Technology – And Decide If You Need It
The pace of change of technology in the dental industry is only set to accelerate – there are hundreds of university technology spinouts working away on industry-changing dental technologies as we speak.
And technologies like DVD glasses for patients, dental smartphone apps, laser dentistry and cutting-edge patient calming treatments are already with us and available to buy in your practice.
With this abundance of new technology, how do you decide what’s actually going to be a good investment for your dental practice? It can be difficult, and really it comes down to sitting down and putting your analytical cap on, weighing up the pros and cons of a given product for your practice.
Most new technologies will issue “white papers” and marketing brochures that should give you some idea of the problem they solve in your practice and how much of an investment they’ll turn out to be. They’re worth a read and can help you make decisions, but do take their claims with a pinch of salt.
There are several websites such as DentalCompare.com that host reviews of products from practicing dentists – check them out, because honest reviews are often the best way to get a feel for the new technology.
Above All… Don’t Forget The Fundamentals
Technology is set to transform the dental industry over the next few years, but remember what constitutes the heart of effective practice: highly competent clinicians, great patient care, efficient processes and effective marketing. Run your practice according to those core tenets and you’ll give yourself the best chance of success, even as the industry rapidly evolves.