Seven New Year’s resolutions for technology in your practice

Dec. 21, 2009

By Tom Terronez, Medix Dental

The technology tools and information used in dental practices can often seem like hindrances rather than the organizational and productivity boosters they should be. Computers seem to move in slow motion, software freezes, networks crash, and sometimes things just won’t work.

To help you get a handle on the tech tools in your practice, and to make sure you are using technology to its fullest, Medix Dental put together a list of seven technology resolutions for 2010.

Whether you’ve painstakingly avoided these issues or just haven’t had the time to address them, these resolutions will help things run smoother, and hopefully remind you that technology exists to make your life and your employees’ lives easier.

1. Resolve to regularly check the backups of your practice’s data. Test restore backups on an ongoing basis to ensure the proper data is actually being backed up. This is particularly important if you are using a manual backup, like tapes, DVDs, or external hard drives. Your data is extremely valuable, and lost data equals lost money. There is nothing worse than thinking you’re backed up, only to realize that things aren’t working as they should.

2. Invest in technology training. If you have recently acquired new technology, make sure you and your team are fully versed in using it. This means more than just performing the basic functions. Make sure you’re using the software to its fullest in order to draw all efficiencies.

3. If your computers are more than three years old, resolve to upgrade them in 2010. Computers that are three years or older are likely not performing at their peak and are more prone to failure. Just think — if a staff of seven waits on a slow computer an average of five minutes a day, that’s more than 11 wasted hours each month.

4. Plan ahead. Even if you’re not planning an immediate technology purchase in 2010, start researching and collecting quotes. It will make your decision that much faster and easier when you’re ready to purchase; plus, you can make needed budget provisions instead of acquiring debt. Also, try to get your hands on the technology you’re considering so you can try it out. This is particularly relevant for equipment you may be using in your day-to-day activities with patients.

5. Stay up to date. Make sure your operating system has the latest updates and your anti-virus software subscription is current. Not doing this will make you susceptible to security threats that can wreak havoc on your system. The risk of not updating your anti-virus software far outweighs the minimal amount of time it takes to do it.

6. Think green. Reduce the amount of paper used in your practice by printing only what is necessary. Also, set all your printers to the duplex mode, which will allow you to print both front and back. Consider going digital to further reduce the amount of paper used in the office. Utilize e-mail and social media to communicate with patients and decrease postcard and mailing usage when possible. These steps will help the environment and also save money.

7. Finally, give back. As you upgrade your technology, it’s likely another practice or clinic could use what you consider old technology. Call around and see if you can find someone who can use it instead of simply throwing it away. One person’s trash may be another person’s treasure.

Whether you look back at 2009 and see a year of struggle, a year of success, or a year of innovation when it comes to technology, sticking to these resolutions will help make technology work for you in 2010.

Tom Terronez is president of Medix Dental, a dental technology consulting company that provides dental practices the technical expertise, resourcefulness, and solutions that will increase productivity and make their practices the best they can be. For more information, visit