New Owner Dives in to Paperless Dental Office

In an established dental practice, a time of owner transition can be ideal for transitioning from paper to electronic charts. Drs. Brett and Irene Druger took over a 25 yr. old practice in New Jersey. Right away they invested $40-50,000 installing Dexis imaging software, followed by a three day transition to the Dentrix practice management system using operatory and front desk computers. Technology expert Dr. Martin Jablow confirms that while many practices want to install digital imaging in advance of operatory computers,

“you can’t go to digital radiography if you don’t have computers in the operatories.”

Even with 16 hours of training over the three day implementation period, Dr. Druger regrets not planning more training time from the vendor. It took nearly a month of using the system before they began to feel comfortable with it. Dental technology expert Dr. John Flucke was asked for comment:

‘”I am a huge fan of training, although I didn’t use to be,” he said. “I used to think it was just another way for them to sock on another couple of grand. But learning how to do it right and be efficient is so important. I’d rather spend $2,000 on training than $2,000 on Tums and Pepto-Bismol.” His office — which has been digital for well over a decade — uses EagleSoft (Patterson Dental), and they bring in a trainer every year or two for a “booster.”’

The Druger’s office digitized charts over the first six month period of implementation. Adopting digital technology while taking over an established practice has been a good way to introduce themselves to patients. The doctor team had the advantage of previous experience using Dentrix and electronic records, and, most importantly, they are not intimidated by technology. This may be the number one element of their success, as Dr. Fluke points out:

“Nowadays, the technology is so good and so many people have done this, you’re not inventing the wheel anymore — you’re just learning to roll it.”

Lesson Learned:

  • A shift in ownership in an established dental practice is an ideal time to transition from paper to digital charts.
  • Invest in more training with your practice management system than you think you will need, and commit to continued training on a regular basis.
  • Upgrade and ready your operatory computers before implementing digital radiography.
  • Get over a fear of failure by identifying a technology “go to” person within your office.

Kincade, Kathy (2011, April 26) Taking the digital plunge: A dental success story. DrBiCuspid