When dental offices consider the move toward digital records and paperless systems, they may worry about appearing cold and impersonal. Reality is exactly the opposite. When practice management systems are used to their full potential, patients are better served. Relevant information is recorded accurately and lines of communication are defined among office staff and with patients.
Electronic records allow space for a greater amount of pertinent patient information to be entered and retrieved than in previous paper systems. When this information is standardized and entered accurately, it enhances patient safety by becoming accessible to those who need it throughout the practice, without having to pull a chart.
Practice management systems also enhance communication in the form of alerts and notes, but if your office suffered from poor communication between business and clinical staff before implementation, don’t expect the system to solve this. Spend some time establishing a staff intranet or other consistent system for communication that has buy in from all staff members.
“Linkage communication means team members are communicating so the right hand knows what the left hand is doing and vice versa. Accurate digital recording of all information is crucial, as is having both business and clinical work stations orchestrated for all patient interactions with accuracy.”
Just as communication among staff members is so important, communication with clients is equally so. Author and practice manager Cathy Jameson states:
“Communication is the bottom line to your success in any relationship. You can individualize your digital contacts, stay in more regular contact with patients and personalize each connection.”
Modern practice management software allows you to have some form of communication with your patients every 90 days through visual formats like newsletters, electronic marketing specials, social media, website videos from staff members, or webinars. It also concentrates that communication on the patient need, not the practice need. Practice management software allows you to personalize communication to the patient in a way that paper records never did.
“Text messages and emails are more readily accessed with today’s busy people than a phone call—unless the phone call is to their smartphone and, even then, they’re most likely catching e-mail on the run! Each time you interact with patients, ask them about their preferred method of contact and make sure you have the accurate contact information.”
- When used properly and accurately, modern practice management systems can facilitate a warm dental office experience customized to the patient’s need.
- Don’t expect linkage communication among practice staff to be an intuitive component of your practice management system. Spend time as a team deciding on a consistent system of office communication that works for everyone.
- Strive to personalize communication to patient preferences. Make contact every few months using formats that are both visual and educational.
Jameson, Cathy (2012, March 20) The dental patient experience of paperless. Dental Products Report.