3 technological innovations to help grow your practice

By Dr. Lorne Lavine, DrBicuspid.com contributing writer

April 28, 2021 -- Dentists' jobs have become so much more complex in the current times.

Patients have become more aware and well-informed consumers who refuse to settle for anything mediocre, since they can easily steer change with the abundant options available at their disposal. For dentists, this implies that there are just as many expectations to be met.

Dr. Lorne Lavine
Dr. Lorne Lavine.

One research white paper published by TeleVox stated that 85% of people in the U.S. would rather communicate with their healthcare provider through remote means such as emails, text messages, and voicemails than in-person visits.

All of these factors further prove that dental care providers don't just compete for new patients amongst themselves today; they're also competing against retail clinics and other vendors in the space. Therefore, positive patient experiences and healthy communication matter more than ever when trying to retain existing patients, attract new ones, and grow your practice's bottom line as a whole.

Technology can greatly help dental care providers on this front. In this piece, I will share a few technological innovations that dental care providers should include in their practices when aiming to grow.

1. Mobile apps

Mobile technology is one rapidly evolving innovation that is greatly contributing to the presence of a strong communication channel between care providers and their patients. However, the advantages that come alongside leveraging mobile tech in healthcare aren't limited to enhancing patient communication.

Dr. Vinati Kamani, dentist turned healthcare author, explained in one of her latest articles how mobile apps have completely transformed healthcare delivery in the recent past. "Healthcare mobile applications are actively contributing to improved patient outcomes while improving on the accessibility and convenience to streamline delivery of medical services," she wrote.

The following are some of the most notable benefits of getting a mobile app developed for your practice:

  • Brand recognition: Having a dedicated mobile app for your practice is one of the easiest ways to get your brand the exposure it requires to grow. The app will not only place your practice more within patients' reach but also help you get noticed.
  • Increased time and cost savings: Your dental practice will no longer have to invest in tools and agendas that aren't as effective once you have a dedicated mobile app. With significantly fewer patients calling in and the elimination of potential errors through digital appointments, your staff will have more time on hand to focus on other crucial tasks that directly contribute to your practice's expansion and growth.
  • Practice analysis: With the help of the detailed dashboards and insights furnished by mobile apps, your dental staff can easily monitor channels, appointments, payment status, subscription expirations, prescriptions, etc. Also, dental care providers can use these platforms to view how compliant their practice is and avoid penalties.

There are many other advantages of using a mobile application for your oral care practice. Although it will require a little initial investment on your part, it will strengthen your relationship with your patients and garner huge returns in the long run.

2. Data management solutions

Data management can either be a single integrated solution or a combination of various disparate solutions that work together in perfect harmony to streamline documentation in a dental practice. This leaves dentists with more time to focus on other important tasks that directly contribute to their practice's growth.

One of the most common benefits of improved data management in dentistry is the lowering of operational costs. The better you manage data, the less likely you are to shell out extra bucks to avail the exact same advantages.

As healthcare professionals, we know that our industry is almost always under pressure from governing authorities to maintain optimal compliance and safeguard sensitive patient information. This further adds to operational costs.

Cloud hosting is one data management solution that allows dental offices to store the majority of their data in an organized manner on a centralized repository. While this solution is often more expensive due to monthly subscription costs, it is often more secure when compared with in-house solutions.

Many dentists will focus on the benefits of a cloud solution, but it's important to realize that practice management data are just one source of patient information. As a result, practices moving to a cloud solution will still need to have a server and workstations and will still need to meet all HIPAA and related compliance measures.

Therefore, when looking at cloud integration, it is important to consider the demands of your particular practice and consider which features exactly are going to be needed and which ones aren't.

Now, moving back to data management, this solution can also help mitigate costs related to patient care. More effective segregation and storage of data and faster retrieval help dentists furnish preventive initiatives faster than other conventional models.

If data can be applied more accurately, then patient conditions can be identified and treated sooner. It's a win-win situation for both parties.

Therefore, data management solutions are one tech innovation that dental care providers trying to gain traction in their practice growth should consider integrating into their daily workflows right away.

3. Teledentistry

Virtual care delivery, more commonly referred to as teledentistry when used in the dental care space, has surfaced as a powerful technology solution in the healthcare space, especially amid the ongoing COVID-19 global emergency.

According to the findings of one recent survey conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital, 79% of patients were of the opinion that arranging a follow-up visit on telehealth was far more convenient than scheduling an in-person follow-up.

This state-of-the-art technology innovation has a lot to offer. Some of the benefits that come alongside leveraging telehealth for your dental practice are as follows:

  • Telemedicine platforms can help dentists expand their reach to facilitate faster and more streamlined care delivery, while also ensuring optimal safety since there's no physical contact between dentists and patients.
  • Telehealth platforms can help cut avoidable expenses (such as those incurred due to travel, equipment, etc.) significantly for both patients and their care providers.
  • Patients miss routine checkups less often with telemedicine because these platforms usually embed features such as push notifications that can be used to send out reminders. Doing this also reduces patient no-show rates for your facility.
  • Storing patient information from your telemedicine app on a dedicated cloud server makes it more interoperable. Data interoperability makes it easier for patients and staff across your clinic to access information remotely from any location and at any point in time.
  • Virtual connectivity lowers the patient-provider barriers, resulting in higher engagement levels. Telemedicine can also be used as a patient education tool to bring dental care awareness to the masses.

There are innumerable other ways in which teledentistry can help oral care providers improve the overall patient experience and speed up care delivery. Hence, this is definitely one technological innovation that can help dentists grow their practices in 2021.

Apart from the ones mentioned above, there are many other progressive tech solutions, such as two-way texting, artificial intelligence, patient portals, and natural language processing (NLP), that are taking the dental care space by storm.

As a forward-thinking leader, you need to constantly explore what works best for your patient base and meets the demands of your practice in particular. Embracing technology is the only way ahead.

However, it is also important to remember that although technology has endless benefits, it should only be used as a care facilitator and not a replacement for human touch. In the end, it all comes down to how well you can maintain connections with your patients so that they keep coming back to you.

Dr. Lorne Lavine, founder and president of the Digital Dentist, has more than 30 years invested in the dental and dental technology fields. Lavine writes for many well-known industry publications and lectures across the U.S. His articles have appeared in Dentistry Today, Dental Economics, and Dental Products Report, among others.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.


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