Professional Courtesy: Guidance From The Top by Dr. Thomas Giacobbi

Professional Courtesy: Guidance From The Top

by Thomas Giacobbi, DDS, FAGD, editorial director

Mike Baird has served as CEO of Henry Schein One, the largest portfolio of practice management services in dentistry, for more than 18 months. I recently had the opportunity to meet with Baird and candidly discuss the landscape of practice management products and the future of technology in dentistry. We covered four key areas that I’ll touch on briefly in this month’s column and will be covered in-depth throughout the year. These areas are priorities for Henry Schein One and by extension, dentists should watch them no matter which software engine is under the hood of their own practices.

Security has become a big issue for dental practices regardless of location. Some dentists worry more about office property and equipment, but all of us must be concerned about data security.

In 2022, you can’t operate a dental practice without access to the internet; electronic claims, EFT payments and communication with patients and specialists are daily tasks that require access to the digital superhighway. Once you have access to the outside, you must protect your castle from intruders: Offices get hacked by nefarious individuals who have great phone skills, can create clever email attachments or are bold enough to steal your entire server. A multilayered approach is mandatory in a world that casts a dim light on data breaches.

We communicate with our patients daily, but phone calls and postcards are not enough—we need email, text messages and website chat windows. These methods need to be coordinated so we can use the right approach on the right patients at the right time. We’re surrounded by businesses that are rewriting the script on what their customers expect. (As dental practices, we also have the benefit of communicating in ways that are more personal than big companies with automated phone menus.)

If you’ve paid attention to the many lessons from Dentaltown founder Dr. Howard Farran, the one you should remember the most is to watch your numbers. (Some consultants call them key performance indicators, or KPIs.) Watching your numbers is more important now than ever because the nature of our profession is changing and we are amid record inflation that will challenge our businesses. The DSOs that grow and prosper year after year watch every KPI like hawks, because they’re usually run by people with business degrees, not dental degrees.

Solo practices could often get by just checking the bank account balance at the end of each month, but that single indicator is no longer adequate. A smaller practice doesn’t have the staff time to track a multitude of indicators, however, so in the coming year we’ll see greater interest in practice data dashboards, such as Jarvis Analytics, that automate this task.

“The cloud” no longer refers to technology used only by Fortune 500 companies. Cloud technology is all around us, and your practice management systems will be better served when they migrate to this distant, unseen computer locked away in an unmarked building.

We rely on cloud services daily when we access email, photos and documents from any computer with our login credentials. Dental practices will benefit from the practical advantages of secure storage and redundant backups. In addition, the different services we rely on to communicate with patients, track numbers and store records will integrate better in the cloud. Thousands of practices continue to run on a client-server platform and they will soon have a path forward to the cloud. New dentists and scratch-start offices often choose a cloud solution from the start. They see the benefits and don’t want to get left behind.

I look forward to sharing more on these topics in feature articles throughout the year. Please share your thoughts on this article. If you want, you can also reach me by email at

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