High technology: Yes or no?

Dentists from all over the country have asked me in my seminars or called The Levin Group recently to ask for advice about buying technology. They want to know in what new technology they should invest, which is only a fad, and which has staying power. Most of their questions involve intra-oral cameras, digital radiography, automated periodontal probes, automated confirmation calls, on-hold educational messages, interactive educational technology, patient-education modules, and practice-manageme

Roger Levin, DDS, MBA

Dentists from all over the country have asked me in my seminars or called The Levin Group recently to ask for advice about buying technology. They want to know in what new technology they should invest, which is only a fad, and which has staying power. Most of their questions involve intra-oral cameras, digital radiography, automated periodontal probes, automated confirmation calls, on-hold educational messages, interactive educational technology, patient-education modules, and practice-management software, among others.

The truth is that practices will be investing in a great deal of new technology to keep up with the times. Our suggestion is that you must evaluate your office needs, your budget, and your desired level of productivity carefully to determine what you should purchase. Technology successfully implemented into the dental practice can and must result in quicker, more efficient, and/or more productive practice operations.

An investment in technology should pay for itself many times over. The technology available today has the potential to increase significantly the quality and the speed of the clinical care you provide, as well as improve communication with and build value for your patients. When patients realize the value of the dental care you provide, they are more likely to get excited about treatment, accept treatment, and refer others to your practice.

Determining your technological needs requires having a detailed plan. Develop a one- or two-year plan of purchase and implementation and regularly monitor your progress to make sure that all of the pieces work together. According to technology expert Marshall Salzman [(888) 781-5324, mdsalzman@msn.com], who has created and implemented many technology-purchase plans for dental practices:

Many dentists are unsure of which technologies they need first, how to purchase them, and how to integrate everything so that it works together efficiently. Proper planning saves time and money, but you also need to consult experts who can provide hands-on help and support with installation, as well as integration of equipment and software.

I thoroughly agree with him. Technology is becoming an increasingly important element in the dental practice. Because technology is expensive - and hasty purchasing decisions can result in inadequate and incompatible systems - plan your purchases carefully. Be sure you have a complete plan and budget accordingly.

Proper integration of the various high-tech systems is necessary to achieve quicker, more efficient, and more productive practice operations. Successful integration results when all pieces of equipment and software can share information.

The competitive dental office of the future will be technology-based. You do not have to wait to start building technology into your practice. My suggestion for you is to begin building the high-tech practice of the future today.

Roger P. Levin, DDS, MBA, president and CEO of The Levin Group and the Levin Advanced Learning Institute, provides worldwide leadership in dental management and marketing for general dentists, specialists, and dental-products companies.

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