Is Your New Technology Flawed?
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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There you are in the middle of the show room floor. The object of your dreams sits before you. Dazzling under the bright lights, you can see yourself taking control, firmly in the driver’s seat of your practice, zipping right along. Challenges, frustrations, lackluster production all left behind in the dust, as you and this coveted new toy ride off into the sunset and the practice of your dreams emerges before you.
Ahh yes, new equipment fever has taken hold and all semblance of reality is lost as you immerse yourself in the glossy literature of dentistry’s latest gadget or gizmo. You hang on every word as the salesperson explains in fine detail each major feature and subtle nuance. Glimmers of doubt or uncertainty are promptly squelched as you let yourself get lost in the possibilities – skyrocketing production, incredible treatment acceptance, more vacation time, less stress – this thing is the answer to it ALL. Hand over the credit card. You can’t wait to get this in the office and figure out how to use it.
From digital X-rays and photography, to electronic charting, to laser handpieces and microscopes, to practice management software and clinical hardware, dental practice technology is constantly churning out the newer and the better. Companies line dental meeting exhibit halls with expertly designed technology displays and skillfully choreographed presentations so enticing that even the casual browser wishes they could purchase it all. The wares promise to fill essential practice needs, simplify procedures and operations, reduce stress, and increase productivity, and many of those promises could be fulfilled if it weren’t for one major flaw. Let me explain.
Often dentists are so enamored by the specific features of a particular piece of equipment they don’t consider how well or even if that new item will work with their current platform. Or they invest in the major technology, but don’t buy one of the most important pieces to ensure that it runs correctly – the training. Consequently, that wonderful new hardware, software, or state-of-the-art tool delivers a miniscule 10% - 30% of what it’s capable of delivering.
When purchasing new technology follow a strategy for success, starting with careful research and planning. Think about your technology vision for the practice. How do you want to use technology? How do you want your patients to benefit from technology? Next conduct a technology inventory. Examine what you have in hardware, software, and networking capabilities. Then establish your priorities, which technology do you want to add or integrate first. How do you plan to pay for it? The cost of technology has come down considerably, but it remains a significant investment for virtually any practice. Don’t try to do it all at once.
Next, evaluate which companies you will consider for your technology needs. Do your homework. In many cases, you’re entering a long-term relationship with a company. You want to know how they handle questions, concerns, problems, staff/doctor training. How long have they been around and what’s their reputation. Talk to your colleagues. What are other dental teams saying about the technology and the company they purchased it from?
Determine how your practice will integrate the new equipment. What steps will you have to take to ensure the integration is smooth? How much staff/doctor training will be required to ensure success? Involve your staff. What are their concerns, insights, and perspectives on how best to implement it? It’s essential that staff understand the benefits of integrating the new technology and, if possible, have some ownership in the process.
Plan to incorporate it in stages and pledge to allocate necessary resources to train staff at every step in the process. If you start thinking that you’ll buy the equipment now and train the staff later, think again. If you can’t afford the gas, you can’t afford the car. In other words, if your budget isn’t big enough for training, you’re not ready to make the purchase.
Next week, determining the technology budget.
Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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