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Going with the (work) flow

Nov. 1, 2007
In a dental office, a wave of activity occurs around each patient’s visit.

by Brad Durham, DMD

In a dental office, a wave of activity occurs around each patient’s visit. The whole team must be aware of various parts of the patient’s history, needs/wants/values, treatment plan, digital radiographs, and digital photos. All of the office procedures and patient information should be organized to ensure efficiency and inspire patients’ confidence. In essence, we have to go with the flow, but this “flow” is one we’ve created for maximum effectiveness. Sequential communication - making sure that all members of the team have the necessary information at their fingertips - is vital to the exceptional dental practice. We do not want to “drop the baton” of communication!

Digital imaging
Click here to enlarge image

Our work flow starts with Integrator, which fluidly combines our practice-management software and our image storage and retrieval. In these programs, we store all information about our patients, their treatment goals, contact information, specific procedures that interest them, as well as X-rays and oral photos. In this way, we not only have returning patients’ histories, but when I meet new patients, I also have plenty of customized information to discuss during our first visit. We “know” them before they arrive at the office!

Click here to enlarge image

Sequential communication also helps us to better serve our patients. Here are some thoughts from the office staff on how they “go with the flow.”

Angela Rodriguez - New-Patient Coordinator and Hygienist

“With a workstation in each operatory, we can pull up any image in any room. Because it is all digital, Dr. Durham can zoom in on a specific area for a better view. The patients appreciate this attention to detail. My expertise is in hygiene. If a patient needs further information about treatment, that fact is evident right on the screen. Our digital X-rays and intraoral camera images pinpoint areas of concern. Patients are amazed because they never get to see their mouths with this level of detail.

As new-patient coordinator, I take digital X-rays on all newcomers. I know immediately if I have captured the best image. The efficiency and ease of taking X-rays is further enhanced by the rounded-edge sensor, which feels more comfortable in the mouth than traditional film. Patients can see their X-ray images instantly on our large viewing screens.

Elizabeth Breden - Treatment Coordinator

I am in the operatory alongside Dr. Durham. Digital radiography in this office simplified my life. I don’t have to use fixer and developer - that was so time consuming. We have two-way radios to communicate with the front desk, so that they can instantly e-mail information and images to and from referring dentists. Streamlining our workflow allows us to spend real quality time with our patients. We have more time, so our patients have our undivided attention. High tech combined with high touch makes this truly niche dentistry.

Dr. Brad Durham has practiced dentistry for 25 years with an emphasis on the treatment of head, neck, and facial pain, dental cosmetics, and complex dental reconstruction. His practice combines art, science, and technology with personalized care. He is a clinical and featured instructor at the Las Vegas Institute, and was the first in the world to earn the LVI Mastership award for esthetic reconstruction. Dr. Durham teaches a series of courses titled “The Niche Practice” at LVI and his home in Savannah, Ga. Contact him at [email protected] and

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