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The Glorious Benefits of Paperless Dentistry

March 1, 2004
Take a walk through one woman's dental office and see how paperless translates to a smooth running office and more time for YOU.

Take a walk through one woman's dental office and see how paperless translates to a smooth running office and more time for YOU.

Paperless dentistry doesn't start in the back office, the operatory, or the front desk. Paperless dentistry starts before the first team member or patient arrives in the morning, and it certainly doesn't end when the last patient or team member leaves at the end of the day.

Paperless dentistry's benefits aren't best shown by the amount of technology fit into an office. Its benefits are best shown when a dentist leaves her practice for the day with the schedule cleared, patients impressed, and finances in order, arriving at home before her child's piano recital.

That's what paperless dentistry is for me with the help of practice-management software from Dentrix. As a general dentist, practice owner, wife, and soon-to-be mother, using my practice software to its fullest means I save time so I do not have to work long hours. It means that I can leave my practice by 5 p.m. every day.

Paperless dentistry is more than just moving your hardcopy files to a computer. It has everything to do with how the information flows throughout your office and how it fits into your everyday process. It's about being able to access patient information anywhere in your office at any time. It's about taking anything you would find in a patient file and making it available to those who need it when they need it. To better understand, let's take a look at a day in my practice.

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DENTRIX practice-management software makes an integrated dental office a reality.
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My office utilizes DENTRIX version 10.5 software. As the first team member comes into the office, she views the schedule for the day. All scheduled patients have already been called and confirmed using customized reports that were created the previous day. For appointment slots that may have been cancelled, we also have access to a list of patients who are willing to come in on short notice. With user-friendly software, I know that my team members, new or experienced, can have this done well before I even get in to the office. The Inventory Manager feature helps us make sure we have all the supplies we need to operate that day.

Patients notice the difference between paperless offices and other offices. The ability to store literally everything within the software provides a clean, clutter-free atmosphere. Void of file cabinets, the office shows our customers that we are well-organized and advanced. The moment a patient enters our practice, I am confident that everything I need for that visit — X-rays, medical history, etc. — is legible, clear, and will be found in the patient's file. And so far that patient has barely made it through the doorway.

As the patient is ushered to the operatory, we use the Patient Eligibility function to preapprove treatment. With this software, my team is highly efficient and more productive than ever. When the patient sits in the dental chair, I doubt he or she realizes that a paperless office is ideal for infection control, eliminating the interoperatory shuffle of charts, X-rays, X-ray mounts, and much more. What the patient notices and is astonished by is the technology we employ. It starts with the DENTRIX ImageCAM, where the click of my wireless foot pedal immediately stores intraoral pictures directly into the patient's chart. After that, I can use DENTRIX Image cosmetic imaging software to show the patient in a few clicks how his or her smile could look after treatment.

Finally, the patient is most impressed with the DENTRIX ImageRAY, the digital X-ray sensor designed to work specifically with Dentrix's practice-management software. While the patient appreciates that the sensor requires 80 to 90 percent less radiation than traditional X-rays, and that he or she can view bitewings on a large monitor display, I appreciate that each digital X-ray taken eliminates film, chemical, and mount costs. The image is instantly stored in the patient file, so emailing digital X-rays to specialists becomes effortless. The patient never notices the time these integrated products save my practice daily.

Before the patient reaches the front desk again, my team has prepared a walkout statement in which treatment plan fees have been entered. In a single click, we can quickly schedule a follow-up appointment. As the last patient leaves, we can access reports to make sure that day has been efficient and financially productive. The software offers automated reports to close the day and an electronic insurance claims filing service.

Payment for current dental services is much faster than with the traditional printing, stamping, and mailing of claims.

A major concern for many practices is computer information protection and security. The new DENTRIX eBackup allows my information to be sent automatically and securely through the Internet to an off-site facility. I have peace of mind knowing that my software has great technical support too. My calls, on average, are answered in less than two minutes.

Technology and dentistry really do go hand in hand. To provide the best care to patients, we must be willing to adapt to what benefits our patients. Those benefits far outweigh the financial investment. So what should a practice-management software system provide for the dentist?

  • A smooth-running office that is efficient and productive every day, with information accessible all the time.
  • A feature-rich system that provides a quick return on your investment.
  • A one-stop shop for all your integration needs (digital sensors, cameras, etc.); outstanding customer service; well-trained support technicians; and up-to-date enhancements.

Above all, to me, an integrated office means I will be able to make it home in time to enjoy my family. A simple equation sums it up: Paperless = Clutterless = Less Stress = Improved Quality of Life = A Happy Dentist!

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Linh Bauer, DDS
Dr. Bauer graduated from the University of California at San Francisco, School of Dentistry, in 1996. She completed advanced training in cosmetic dentistry from the Pacific Aesthetic Continuum in 2001. She currently practices dentistry in San Jose, Calif. You may contact Dr. Bauer at www.linhbauer