Years ago, when I got started in dentistry, we did not have the internet, smart phones, or the cloud. Now, we have services that even help us run our practices. There are services to help us to reach patients, monitor our office statistics, make our offices paperless, record phone calls, and help with social media. In some ways, it’s the best possible time to be a dentist and a dental team, considering all the help that’s available to start, grow and run our dental offices. But, sometimes all of these “tech solutions” can be overwhelming and hard to manage.
When it comes to using technology to better serve our patients and staff, there are three types of offices. First, there are the tech holdouts who don’t use any services at all to help them run them run more effectively or efficiently. (Frankly, I think this is a mistake. Why not get the help you need to run your business?) Second, there are a few offices out there that have the right balance: just enough support to help them but not get overwhelmed with managing it all, and they are using all the services on a regular basis. Finally, there are the offices who have too many services and too much technology. These offices are either paying for it but not using it all, using it on a regular basis but without deciding how to manage everything efficiently, or feeling so overwhelmed with services that their practices aren’t being well served by paying for those services. In fact, for the latter type of offices, they might be worse off than the first kind who don’t use anything to help them. Juggling too many services can cause negative results based on confusion, cost and overwhelm.
How do you know when you have a good balance and are employing just the right amount of help for what you need?
There are three ways to determine whether a service is needed and useful for your office.
1. Is it fixing a problem or helping you grow?
Basic practice management software is great, but it does not have all the bells and whistles that we need to help us get our jobs done more effectively and more efficiently. Any additional service or software that you work with should be an enhancement to your practice management software and help your office grow or fix problems. Some examples might be: reaching patients you can’t reach via phone, helping team members with time consuming tasks like scanning papers all day long, reaching out to patients who need to be reactivated, or asking patients to review your practice so you can grow your online reputation. If you are using a software or service add-on that is not obviously either fixing a problem or helping you grow, then you may not be using it the right way or possibly it is something that you really don’t need pay for in your office.
2. Are you using it fully, regularly and correctly?
Many offices purchase software but do not take the time to implement it well and understand all the things it can do to support the team. Successful implementation is key, not only to get your team to embrace using the new technology, software or service, but also for training them fully so they know how to use it easily and appropriately to assist and not hinder them in their jobs. Integrating something new is not always easy, and if this training period is not handled well, you will get resistance from your staff or the new process will not get used to its maximum capability. It is important to let the team know why the new service or software is being brought into the practice, as well as to implement the initial training effectively so that staff is likely to use it correctly. It is important to focus on reaching a point of daily use. Many times, staff are resistant to change and are quick to return to the old way when things don’t go smoothly. Continuous training is a good idea. Learning a new process takes time, and over time there will be team members who show the aptitude to learn more about the new system. Set the expectation of continual training, so team members can learn how to handle specific changes they will face while implementing the new software or service.
3. Are you using it to improve (and if not, why)?
When you are paying on a monthly or yearly basis for a service or software to help your office grow, but you don’t use it, why pay for it at all? There are great resources available to help us measure how well the office is doing in different areas, record calls so we can improve conversions, access training videos to increase the skills of the team members, and so on, but what is the point of having technology if you don’t do anything with it? It’s as if you hired a consultant to develop the perfect filing system but continue to operate as usual with papers piled high on your desk. Paying for great services for your office doesn’t magically make anything happen in terms of practice growth or meeting your goals. These services will only benefit your practice if you take full advantage of them. Use the data you find to grow your practice and improve systems within your office. Otherwise, you will only be paying for short-term results instead of adding to the long-term sustainability of your practice.
Take the time to assess your practice and the technology you are using - it will be worth it when you identify the gaps and opportunities you may be missing!