Are You a Digital Dropout Dentist?
Are you waiting for some government official to show up at your door demanding you drop the chart and pick up the mouse? I am not certain it will play out this way, but why wait for the “ax to fall” before making the change to technology? There have been amazing changes since the 1990s in dental software. You don’t have to be a “high-tech” person to learn and become comfortable with technology that is available now. If your vision for practice success includes highly efficient, smooth running and low stress days, then you are ready for a paper chartless practice.
The sooner you and your dental team become proficient at using the practice’s dental software program, the sooner you will feel comfortable incorporating EMRs (Electronic Medical Records) to your practice before the looming 2015 deadline. Using practice management software has allowed practices to work with smaller, more proficient teams. Many of the administrative chores of days gone by, such as printing and stuffing statements, sending recall cards, posting the charges manually into the computer and verifying the scribbled handwritten notes on paper are now automatically done within the software charting system.
Creating treatment plans and presentations for patients can be done quickly with just a few keystrokes by the clinical team, and are ready to view at patient dismissal. Submitting and tracking insurance used to be a full time position in many practices, and now takes about an hour to file claims electronically including attachments. Patients love being contacted via text or email because that is how they live their lives now. Stopping to make a phone call to the office just seems outdated and annoying. Technology frees up time to develop a more trusting and confident relationship with our patients.
In addition, most patients are educated enough to know that digital x-rays are far more beneficial to them and to the environment. Having outdated systems in your practice can spell disaster to attracting and keeping new patients.
Here are some guidelines to help you begin to go chartless:
1. Get the practice management software with computers and monitors in each operatory. Soon we may be able to access from one computer.
2. Get a digital x-ray system. Get an intra-oral camera too.
3. Pick a date to go chartless.
4. Each new patient is chartless as they come in for the first time. Fill in all fields and make sure health history is complete. Signify patients with e-charts with the letters EC in alerts. Existing patients, enter all information in the digital chart, not paper, as they come in for recall. Pull the paper chart for past history or old x-ray comparison only.
5. Use the health history form in the computer and have the patient sign on signature pads. If you’re not ready for this, you will have to scan health history forms into the document center in the patient digital chart. This is not difficult, but it can be time consuming. It is much cleaner and easier to read on the digital health history form.
6. Incorporate a digital patient education system that integrates with the software to create amazing treatment plans and informed consent. CAESY in Eaglesoft and GURU in Dentrix are amazing products that give a polished and vivid treatment video education in addition to a printable treatment plan.
7. Have regular software training either by the software supplier or a well trained staff member. Everyone is to be crossed-trained. Clinical assistants and hygienists need to enter treatment plans and clinical notes; front office needs to know how to do treatment estimates from standard fees and PPO fees, if in network.
8. Sign up for a patient reminder contact system like the service from Sesame Communications.
9. Electronic claims processing must be set up to attach and send x-rays, narratives and documents seamlessly to all companies that accept electronic claims. This is completed daily.
10. Your dental software company is the best source for updates to the digital system and should have the current information on government mandated electronic compliance issues.
11. Don’t look back. Don’t let the paper charts define how many patients you have. Your software will give you a far more accurate number based on when the patient was last seen and whether they are active in the recall system.
12. Verify that you have the best back-up system available and that it is offsite. Back-up must be transmitted daily to a reliable and verifiable source.
Need help getting your team on board for upcoming changes? Call McKenzie Management today for professional business training.Forward this article to a friend
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