In the ever-evolving landscape of modern dentistry, the digital revolution has brought about transformative changes that have significantly improved patient care, diagnosis, and overall practice efficiency. Central to this transformation is the concept of a digital workflow, which is revolutionizing how dental care and administrative tasks are performed. The digital workflow in dentistry represents a systematic and technology-driven approach to patient care and practice management. While it can be compartmentalized into specific silos of workflows, it encompasses the entire patient journey, from appointment scheduling to diagnosis, treatment planning, clinical and laboratory workflows, and post-treatment follow-ups. Unlike analog systems, a digital workflow leverages cutting-edge technologies, such as 3D imaging, intraoral scanning, CAD/CAM laboratory or in-office systems, and practice management software to enhance every aspect of a dental practice.
The focus of this issue is the digital workflow. Digital workflows may be implemented to create efficiencies within the practice, provide a standout experience for patients, improve outcomes, reduce the need for workers, and enhance revenues. There are distinct benefits of digital workflows, including:
- Improved patient experience. The digital workflow reduces discomfort and overall chair time by minimizing the need for traditional impression materials and the integration of same-day indirect restorations. Moreover, more accurate diagnoses and efficient treatments contribute to overall patient satisfaction.
- Enhanced diagnosis and treatment planning. High-quality digital images and the use of artificial intelligence enable dentists to detect issues earlier and with more accuracy. Ultimately, dentists can plan care more appropriately and predictably, resulting in better outcomes and reduced complications.
- Efficiency and productivity. Digital workflows streamline processes, reducing manual tasks and paperwork. This boosts efficiency, allowing dental professionals to see more patients and increase revenue.
- Cost savings. While the initial investment in digital technology can be significant, the long-term cost savings from reduced material waste, improved treatment accuracy, and streamlined administrative processes can be substantial.
- Professional development and fun. Learning new approaches to patient care enables dentists and team members to continually learn, which can be extremely satisfying and fun.
The digital workflow is revolutionizing dental practice management and patient care. By embracing a digital workflow, dentists can provide higher-quality care and operate more efficiently. As technology continues to advance, dental practices that adopt and adapt to digital workflows will stay at the forefront of the industry, ultimately benefiting both their patients and bottom line. As we approach the end of the year, now is the time to consider end-of-year purchases that will support professional and practice growth and enhanced patient care and experiences.
Editor's note: This article appeared in the November 2023 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.