As I hope the title of this article indicates, I'm actually advocating that you follow a practice that is reputed to have been common in the Old West. I'm recommending that you "shoot first and ask questions later." This might not be what you'd expect to hear from a business consultant, but the financial benefits of installing digital radiography are so great that you simply can't afford to wait.
Installing digital radiography in your practice is so important that, even if you make a mistake initially, the benefits will far outweigh any mistakes you might make by choosing the wrong vendor. What's more, if you discover that you're not totally happy with the system you've purchased, you can generally opt out of your purchase and choose a vendor with a better product.
Make no mistake: I'm not quite telling you to just go out there and buy the first digital radiography system that's demonstrated in your office. There's no substitute for doing your homework. What I am saying, though, is, "Get out there and buy a digital radiography system for your practice now.” Let me explain why.
First, there are the financial rewards that accompany installing digital radiography in your practice. I've actually found that there are many dentists who don't realize how much money they are paying out each month to maintain their film X-ray systems. Film radiography has been the de facto standard of care for so long that many doctors have just come to accept the fact that such consumable supplies as film, chemicals, developer equipment and maintenance, and mounts are significant out-of-pocket expenses. I've come to recognize that these are "invisible" or "phantom" costs that many dentists have become so accustomed to that they simply don't question them.
I think it's high time they do start to question them. It’s time that dentists who are still taking film X-rays realize that not converting to digital radiography is costing them serious money. When I say "serious money," I'm talking about a minimum of $400.00 every month in film, chemicals, developer equipment service and maintenance, and mounts. If, for instance, your practice takes an average of 50 film X-rays a day (or 200 per four-day week), you're spending that much money every month with no chance to recoup your expenditure.
This is not to mention the time your team members spend developing film X-rays. It takes an average of 12 to 15 darkroom visits to develop and mount 50 film X-Ray images in a given day. This means that your practice is wasting two to two-and-a-half hours of staff time daily just to develop film X-rays. If you multiply that times $20.00 per hour, you’ll find it’s costing you as much as $50.00 a day. That translates to $800.00 to $1,000.00 a month in wasted staff time to develop film X-rays.
I call it "wasted" time because in the best digital radiography systems the X-ray image is displayed instantly in the operatory on a large-size computer screen. In other words, there is literally zero development time involved in producing a digital X-ray. Which means that there are zero dollars in lost staff time for your practice.
To put it bluntly, film radiography has become a Return-On-Investment nightmare. Even if you converted to Unknown Company Digital Radiography, you'd be better off financially than you are with film. But there are other digital radiography options out there that make even better sense.
If you add up the lost costs of film radiography for a practice that takes around 200 X-rays per week, you'll find that they amount to some $1,300.00 per month. These costs include the price of consumable supplies, system maintenance, and wasted staff time.
The typical lease cost for a digital radiography system is around $500.00 per month. If you subtract the $500 lease cost from $1,300.00, you’ll see that your return on investment is somewhere in the neighborhood of $800.00 per month, or just shy of $10,000.00 per year.
What's more, you can actually begin to realize a cash-flow benefit from converting to digital radiography within less than two weeks. That's because once you pass the point where your unrecoverable expenses for film radiography exceed the cost of your monthly digital radiography lease payment, you're realizing positive cash flow for your practice. For most practices, this point is reached after about five or six working days each month.
And so, my question to you is, if you haven't yet converted your practice from film to digital radiography, "What are you waiting for?" Ready! Fire! Aim!
Converting to digital radiography will provide you with one of the fastest returns you're ever likely to get for your money. By the end of the first month, when you make the first lease payment on your state-of-the-art digital radiography system, you'll be hundreds of dollars to the good. That's because you'll already have realized at least $1,300.00 in savings. The ROI for digital radiography starts early and never goes away. It's one of the best financial moves you can make.
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