9.11.15 Issue #705 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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New Technology and Old Protocols Donít Mix
By Nancy Caudill, Senior Consultant

New technology that you incorporate into your office is not only impressive to patients, it also makes coming to work more fun for you and your team. Not having to manually call 50 patients a day to confirm their appointment is a great technological advance – if you doubt it, ask your Business Coordinators! Other advancements that can make life easier for you and your team include the ability to review the computerized appointment book from your telephone or other device, as well as emailing digital radiographs to specialists or other dentists (as well as receive them) instead of having new patients bring in a paper copy of an FMX or Panorex.

These and all the other technological advancements in dentistry all bring along with them a different set of challenges you may not have considered. I would like to review a couple here in this article.

Chartless Offices
Let’s say you have a new patient whose last name is Cenisky. A paper record would have the letters CE on the side for filing purposes, even though it was misspelled in the computer as Senisky. The chart is still easily located. When you are chartless, accuracy is much more important. If this patient’s name was misspelled in your software program and you are trying to find their clinical chart, you are going to have to search around for a bit…quite a bit.

Do you now use kiosks for new patients to complete their patient information, or have a link on your website to the software itself that auto-populates the patient’s demographic information? Be sure that all information in entered correctly from the beginning. 

Digital Radiographs
Using digital technology forces team members to accurately attach x-rays to the correct patient to avoid errors. The “old school” way of taking processed x-rays included preparing the x-ray mount with the patient’s name on it. It could accidentally get filed in the wrong paper record and you would never find it again, but at least there was a name attached to it. So, again, accuracy is so important.

Also, in order to send and receive patient medical information from another medical entity, it must be sent over a secure email address, opposed to the patient bringing you a copy of their x-rays. Is your email secure and HIPAA compliant?

Automated Confirmation Systems 
Back in the day, telephone confirmation calls were made during office hours and most of the time you could actually speak to someone. If they needed to cancel and reschedule their appointment, it was handled at the time the call was placed. Not anymore with automated systems. Now your system sends out an email to the address that is on file and an automated call is placed to the patient or a text message is sent to a cell number. The patient responds at 9:00 p.m. to inform you that they are not going to keep their 8:00 a.m. appointment. You may get this information on your smart phone or another device, but are you going to start “dialing for dollars” to fill the opening? I doubt it.

Again, accuracy is key in keeping the patient’s demographic information updated. Statistics say that 17% of us change our email address every six months, and subscribers change theirs annually. You can’t assume that patients don’t change theirs as well. As a result, it is important to review the demographic information of your patients more often than in the “old days” when there was only a home and work telephone number. And what do you do with patients who don’t respond to email, texts or calls? It used to be that you kept calling until you actually spoke to someone. Do you have the same protocol now?

Just like those who live or die by their smartphones and carry them everywhere, automation can also keep you “connected” to your practice much more than you really want to be. Technology is great and we need it to be more efficient, accurate and productive. Be careful, however. Avoid finding yourself insisting that your Business Coordinator have cancellation notifications go to her personal phone or even an office smart phone so she can respond and/or review at all hours of the day. Review all your protocols that are “old school” and make sure they still apply to your office today. If you don’t have protocols for an efficient and productive office, contact us. We can help.

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Consulting Coaching Programs can help you implement proven strategies, email info@mckenziemgmt.com

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