Implementation as a Means for Process Improvement

Introducing or changing dental  software means change for a dental practice. However, conscious change can be a wonderful, quality-improving and time-saving tool. When considering a dental office’s standard routines, how many tasks and steps are based on old habits? How many of the things done every day are not optimized?

When introducing or switching dental software, Christodoulou of XLDent recommends using it as a time to evaluate practice habits and routines and improve overall efficiency:

“The secret to success is in the workflows and how they are assessed and changed to effectively achieve superior patient care through electronic records implementation…Since paper was and still is the data origination point in most dental practices, workflows didn’t change.”

However, after a rigorous selection process, dental offices need to approach implementation with a similar open, methodical approach. Rather than expecting software to slot in to routines, or to simply be plug-and-play, dental offices can consider how the EHR or practice management software can transform their practice. What tasks can be eliminated? What tasks can be automated? Why are some tasks done regularly, and others sporadically, and can the software assist in consistency?

Asking questions within the practice and intentionally creating new routines and evaluation points will allow dental practices to enact conscious change, and make the most of any software investment.

Lessons Learned:

  • Paper was and is crucial to most dental office workflows.
  • Approaching an EHR implementation with an eye towards efficiency and changes in routine can be highly beneficial.
  • Expect new software to change everyday and periodic tasks, behaviors and interactions.

 

Reference:

Christodoulou, Dawn (2012) Workflow and the Electronic Dental Record (EDR). Catalyst, Quarter 4. Last Accessed 6/11/2013: http://www.burkhartdental.com/sites/default/files/catalyst.q4.2012.workflowandtheedr_0.pdf