What is Automation?
Automation has been a big topic in the dental industry for some time now – and for good reason. Its presence in almost every industry – including dentistry – makes it a topic worth exploring, but what exactly is it? And what role does it play in the future of dental practice management?
Let’s answer that first question. Automation is a process by which technology can replicate manual human efforts when performing certain tasks. In a nutshell, it means that technology can facilitate efficiency in people’s work, by doing certain manual tasks automatically. Automation can make processes more efficient and give time back to a dental practice’s team.
So, let’s answer that second question: what about automation and practice management?
What Role Does Automation Play in Dental Practice Management?
It can be hard to predict exactly what the future holds for your dental practice and its management. But, truly, when it comes to automation, we are not just talking about the future. We are also talking about the present. Automation is becoming increasingly commonplace in dental practice management.
Automation can take many different forms. We’ll focus on the one we know best: automated dental appointment software. As we all know, scheduling appointments is time-consuming for any dental practice. But, because it is such a common-place, everyday part of a dental practice, it can be easy to overlook the importance of this task – until staff begin to have challenges with it. When staff become overwhelmed with appointments, it can hinder their ability to stay on top of other tasks. This, in turn, can hinder their ability to be emotionally available and attentive to patients.
Automated dental appointment software is an effective practice management solution, which allows you to manage appointments, schedule them, and keep track of patient information. This makes it easier for you to see what patients need and when they need it. This is why automated appointment software is not just a nice to have; it is becoming a norm at dental practices across Canada and the United States.
Let’s dive into the benefits that dental practices can see with appointment reminder software.
Benefits of Automated Dental Appointment Software
Improved Patient Experience
With an automated system, patients can receive key pre-appointment instructions attached to their confirmation message. With some tools, patients have the option of receiving their confirmations or other messaging via email, text, or phone. One of the advantages of attaching pre- and post-appointment instructions digitally is that they are always accessible to the patient in their phone or computer, increasing the likelihood of patient compliance. Which can make for less stress for both patients and staff!
One really useful feature of dental appointment software is a two-way chat feature. This functions very similarly to a virtual waiting room. This can help ensure patients aren’t enduring long wait times or staying on hold waiting for quick questions to be answered.
However, one of the key reasons that automated software can support an improved patient experience and improved dental practice management is through efficiency. Giving staff time back means that they are emotionally resourced to support patients. It can also result in an improved work-life balance for staff, who are able to more easily stay on top of tasks.
Improved Operational Efficiency
Let’s talk a little more about efficiency. As we’ve mentioned, automated dental appointment software can be so integral for dental practice management because of increased efficiency. One key way to do this is to ensure that the automated appointment software of your choice can integrate with your existing practice management system. This ensures that your staff doesn’t have to spend time manually entering patient data back and forth between both systems. Having an automated appointment software in place allows you to manage your practice’s workflow better to keep everything running smoothly. At Intiveo, we hear variations on this theme from many of our clients!
As an added bonus, dental professionals who run multiple locations can use this software to manage all their appointments and communications remotely. This allows them to run each location more efficiently and increase productivity across the board.
Data breaches can happen at dental practices – something nobody wants. Automated appointment software can help you protect your practice by providing extra layers of security that prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information. When choosing an automated tool, be sure to choose one that is HIPAA compliant (PIPEDA compliant, in Canada), to ensure maximum security.
Every Challenge is An Opportunity
As the dental practice management landscape continues to rely more and more on technology, your practice will encounter challenges getting staff and patients on board. We recently published a blog addressing anxieties in choosing patient management software or in switching to a new one. This section will address similar challenges – but for dental appointment reminder software. Remember, every challenge is an opportunity! We’ll touch on the hurdles you might face and give you tips on how to introduce them into your practice!
Staff Resistance to Change
The appointment reminder software market has a wide range of options to choose from. Of course, many dentists are still operating their practice manually. This is partly due to the fact that automation isn’t always easy to implement and staff can be resistant to change. But in this case, learning how to use automated appointment software can truly be an asset.
In order to help make the transition easier, here are a couple of ways you can get started on automating your practice:
- Set a goal. It’s important that you set a clear goal for what you want out of your new system. This will help keep your end goal in mind as you navigate through the process of choosing an appointment scheduling software and implementing it into your office.
- Be patient. As mentioned earlier, the world of dentistry has been slow to adopt new technologies and as a result, some staff members won’t exactly be jumping for joy at the thought of new technology. But don’t worry, If you want your staff to buy into the idea of automation, then they need to understand why it’s so important for your business.
- Explain how it will save them time and increase efficiency. In addtion, explain how much easier it will be for patients to book an appointment online. They’ll be more likely to embrace change if they feel like there’s a tangible benefit for everyone involved.
- Set aside some time to properly train your staff. For staff that aren’t the most tech-savvy, learning new technology can be overwhelming and feel counterproductive. Don’t make the mistake of expecting them to learn it in a few minutes, and set aside time when the practice is quiet to give your staff the training they need. This will help them feel comfortable using it alongside their normal workflow – and give them the confidence to embrace new technologies moving forward.
Compatibility with Current Systems
While there are many benefits to integrating dental appointment software with your existing technology can be a challenge. And when it comes to both productivity and dental practice management, it only makes sense that you’d want to find a system that works with all other systems in your practice.
When searching for appointment reminder software, you need to consider how it will integrate with other systems in your office. Your practice management software should be able to share data with your new software, which will ensure that all patients have up-to-date information about upcoming appointments and treatment plans. The same goes for financial software like invoicing and billing — these systems should be able to communicate with each other seamlessly so that your patients don’t run into payment or insurance troubles.
Tip: When interested in software, always ask for a demonstration of the product to see the software in action. This can give you an idea of what to expect out of the software and also allows you to ask some questions. The most important question you should ask is, “Can this software integrate with my current ___ system?”.
Is There Such a Thing as Perfect Software?
There are many different types of appointment software on the market today and it can be difficult to choose which one is right for you. However, you must make the decision carefully because your practice will be relying on this software for years to come.
So how do you pick the perfect automated software? Here are some top considerations:
- Ease of use. How easy will it be to learn how to use this software? How long will it take? Is there a learning curve? Will there be any training or support available? If not, what will you do if you run into problems or lose interest in using the system after a few months?
- Automated features. What automated features does this software offer that make your life easier? Do these features require additional purchases or upgrades? Are they available at no extra cost as part of your subscription fee?
- Security. How secure is this software from hacking or data breaches? Does it protect your patient’s information from being stolen?
- Compatibility. Is the new software compatible with your current systems?
- Support team. Does this new partner have a good support team? If you need to troubleshoot, how responsive will that support team be?
The Present & Future of Dental Practice Management
Automation has become an integral part of dental practice management, with appointment reminder software taking the lead. Its presence in every industry has shown its effectiveness and benefits, not just for increased efficiency but also for providing a better patient experience and increased security. And as technology continues to advance, we can only expect more innovations and developments in the field of dental automation.
At Intiveo, we are committed to helping dental practices navigate through these changes and stay ahead of the curve. Our platform offers a plethora of resources, from informative blog posts to useful tools like ROI calculators, template packages, and more. We believe that by staying informed and utilizing these tools, practices can thrive in this ever-evolving landscape. Join our community today and subscribe via the link at the right!