9.27.13 Issue #603 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Technology: Bells, Whistles, and Waste
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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What if members of your team put forth a mere 10%-30% effort daily? What if your handpieces operated at 20% power? Or the lighting in your operatory was reduced to just 10%? Would you tolerate that? Of course not, yet when it comes to the productivity of practice technology, doctors and their teams will tolerate inefficiencies, poor performance, and very low return on investment. And it’s not because the technology can’t deliver what is promised. Rather, it’s because too often dentists like to feel as though they are getting a good deal. Let me explain.

When dentists make major technology purchases for their practices, many will convince themselves that they don’t need to “waste time and money” on the training program that can be purchased as part of the package. After all, the doctors may reason that the new gadget, software or hardware should be intuitive enough that anyone could figure it out. So the doctor passes on the training options and plans to teach himself and his team. It’s a great idea that almost never works.

As dentists, you are expert clinicians and superior problem solvers. Unfortunately, because you are so effective in these areas, you often convince yourselves that you can figure out how to use just about any product or device. You further persuade yourselves that you will create time in your nonstop schedules to teach the staff and make them experts as well. However, as the primary producer in the practice, the chief executive officer, and in some cases the human resources director, you don’t have time to serve as vice president of information/practice technologies and corporate trainer too.

Consequently, dentist after dentist will invest tens of thousands of dollars in new technology, gadgets, devices, hardware and software, only to benefit from a mere sliver of what the device is capable of delivering because they habitually fail to spend money on training. The result: Neither you nor anyone on your team really knows how to use the technology – hardware or software – to its full potential. Consequently, that wonderful new state-of-the-art tool delivers a fraction of what it’s capable of.

Typically, doctor and team will certainly try to make it work, at least for a while. After all, the practice spent a LOT of money on this thing. But the process is frustrating. You and your team are in a hurry; who has time to figure this stuff out. Precisely. In the case of practice management software, it’s not uncommon for staff to claim it won’t do what they need it to do, so they find ways of working around it because they just don’t know how to make it work effectively for them.

Before long, that expensive new equipment or software is pushed aside - but you continue to promise yourself that this is just a temporary delay. In a few weeks, you’ll have a little time to figure out how to use it correctly. Then you will most certainly get you monies’ worth out of it. And that simply never happens.

Rather than overextending your technology budget to the point where you can’t afford training, develop a plan that will allow the office to truly maximize this major investment. Without a plan, it is easy to be seduced by the latest model of this and the greatest model of that, only to end up with a mishmash of excellent equipment that is, together, an inefficient jumble of bells, whistles, and big bucks. Rather, take a step-by-step approach to determine how to most effectively integrate technology into the practice.

1. Start with a technology vision for the practice. How do you want the practice to use technology? How do you want patients to benefit from technology?
2. Identify which system your technology purchase will enhance and improve, such as scheduling, treatment presentation and acceptance, treatment financing, reduction in broken or failed appointments, etc.
3. Conduct your technology inventory. Examine what you have in hardware, software, and networking capabilities.
4. Don’t try to do it all at once. Plan to integrate technology in stages.
5. Train staff.
6. Budget for technology on an ongoing basis.

Finally, pay attention to best practices for team training. Depending on the technology or software that you are integrating into your practice, in some cases training dollars are better spent if the instruction enables staff to master one element of a system before moving on to the next.

Next week, what’s your return on that technology investment?

For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
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