The choice to implement new electronic health record (EHR) technologies or not in a dental office can place a heavy burden on the practice. It’s certainly true that if you choose with absolute certainty to not employ newer technologies or upgrade your current system, your practice will eventually cease to exist. On the other hand, if you over invest in technologies that you might not need, you run the risk of going bankrupt. That might sound a little scary, but evaluating your practice and strategizing plans will help in the decision-making process.
“When the propensity of practitioners to invest in technological upgrades is examined, dental professionals find themselves all over the map. There are those who define their practice by being on the cutting edge. These are the “gotta have it” doctors. At the other end of the spectrum are some who may be extremely slow adopters, the “all those gadgets are just bells and whistles, not necessary to practice good old-fashioned, quality dentistry” crowd” (2010).
Dentists practice in many settings in a variety of socioeconomic areas. Some are more stable than others. A major factor in the technology and EHR election process is the patient profile. What type of patients do you primarily serve? Are they older? Are they the younger crowd? Do you want to differentiate your practice? Do you want to be more innovative? Evaluating your practice to determine what technology needs will best fit for your current practice as well as the future.
“A useful mechanism for patient profile evaluation may be for doctors considering a purchase to simply survey their existing patient pool. Questions may be “What features of our practice are factors that weigh heavily on your decision to trust us with your oral health care?””(2010).
As with any dental practice considering new EHR technologies, gaining staff buy-in is crucial to success of implementation and adoption. Make sure your staff is on board and motivated. The practices’ organizational culture can make or break any major renovations to the office. The best run organizations will always have the proper training and support to ensure a smooth transition.
Strategizing the return on investment (ROI) is tricky and best left to the professionals. Needless to say, there is much to consider when a major acquisition is in the works. Is the equipment best for this practice? Will it improve operations? What are financing issues? Will there be a return on my investment? At the very least, the dental practice will need to invest in a good, reliable practice management (PM) system. Without one, your practice will not make it off the ground, let alone survive.
“A contemporary practice that does not strive to keep abreast of technological advancements and new product entries may find itself out of date and struggling to make up lost ground if reinvestment lag extends too long” (2010).
- Carefully scrutinize your practice and technology needs.
- Evaluate your patient profile to determine current and future patients.
- Decide how you want to market your practice to attract new patients.
- Invest in technologies you will use and plan for upgrades.
- Consider your ROI factors such as initial cost to future benefit.
Hakim, F. DDS, MBA, and Kachalia, P. R., DDS. (2010, May). Implementation strategies for incorporating new technologies into the dental practice. CDA Journal, 38 (5); 337-341.