Technology: Maximize Your ROI
From digital radiography and photography to 3-D cone beam, to digital panoramic X-ray to electronic charting, to more efficient practice management software, dental practice technology is a rapidly moving target. You no more than remove the packaging on that shiny new device, and the next better, faster, sleeker, and cooler generation is waiting in the wings. Certainly, new technology presents a host of temptations that can create a lot of expense and an often undefined return, unless there’s a solid plan.
Those that achieve the greatest return on their technology investments are integrating the equipment, hardware, and software methodically. Their focus is quality, not bargain. And they know exactly how each component will be used – from the flow of patient and practice information through their practice management software to the clinical software and hardware that enables the practice to enhance diagnostic capabilities and treatment acceptance. In addition, these practices have a budget and they adhere to it.
Consider your pending technology purchases. How much will you invest? How will you use the technology? How will you measure the return on your investment? I have created a technology ROI spreadsheet that doctors can use to enable them to better understand exactly how much this major expenditure will cost, how quickly they can recover that cost, and most importantly, how much will the practice benefit financially from this investment over time.
And that is the key - carefully evaluate what your anticipated return will be on this major technology investment. Establish your priorities and consider fully what system(s) in your practice will improve because of this investment. Is this a software program or patient communication tool that will minimize patient cancellations and no shows? Will it simplify the treatment financing process for patients, thereby improving treatment acceptance? Will it enable the doctor and the team to more effectively educate patients on treatment options using state-of-the art digital tools?
Keep in mind that your investment will likely involve far more than the new device, new hardware, or new software. Do your homework. Determine what additional costs need to be factored into the equation. Maximizing your purchase will likely require that you have a technological infrastructure that can support it, including the hardware, software, and wiring. You’ll probably pay more up front, but the investment will serve your needs more effectively and for a longer time period if the infrastructure is in place. You’ll also need to plan for ongoing service, maintenance, and probably training as well.
When it comes to digital radiography, you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons of purchasing the imaging software from the practice management software company or a third party vendor. From the practice management software vendor, you’ll benefit from a virtually seamless integration between the management component and the radiography component of the software. Regardless of your decision, it’s essential that you evaluate your options and have a clear understanding of where your costs will lie and how quickly your practice can recover its investment.
Consider the package deals. Piecemeal purchases often make you feel good initially, only to leave you shelling out cash again and again for additional options, new updates, service packages, etc. A “good deal” today in which you are saving hundreds or thousands may well have you paying more for service and upgrades down the road. The same goes for short-term vs. long-term costs. Short-term deals are very attractive, but may end up costing you more in the long run.
As is the case with virtually any other product on the market, when it comes to technology hardware and software, you get what you pay for, so prepare and invest your dollars wisely. Develop a plan, establish a budget, and arrange to professionally train your team to get the very most from your technology.
For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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