How to Make Technology Work for Your Practice (Instead of the Other Way Around)

October 24, 2018 Rieva Lesonsky

lighthouse 360

With the number of dentists in the United States projected to grow steadily through 2035, it’s more important than ever to differentiate your practice. The technology you use in your office can help by automating many daily tasks. But there’s a dizzying array of productivity, practice management, and patient communication software available for dental offices (not to mention all the general business software you could implement).


Make the wrong decision, and technology could make your life harder instead of easier. How do you make the right choice and put technology to work for your practice, instead of the other way around? Follow these steps.


Step 1: Identify the problem/s in need of solution/s.

Before you begin investigating your options, determine exactly what you need the software to do. What are the current problems in your dental office?  How are you wasting time? What is costing you money (or patients)? For instance, if each member of your front desk staff spends an hour a day calling patients to remind them of appointments or reschedule appointments, how could technology simplify that task?


Talk to your entire team to identify problems and get ideas for possible solutions. After all, the people who will be using the new technology should have a voice in selecting it.


Based on your discussions, decide what type of software you need, and create a list of key “must-have features” and “nice to have features” it should include.


Step 2: Do your homework.

Using the needs and key features you’ve identified, do some research to create a list of software that might solve your practice’s problems.


Step 3: Investigate your options.  

Read all about it. Look for articles about the products you’re continuing, expert reviews, and user reviews.

·      What do users in practices similar to yours have to say about the product?

·      Do similar complaints pop up again and again?

·      What type of reputation does the provider have?

·      How frequently do they update the software or add new features? A company that regularly adds new features to improve the product is clearly listening to what dentists have to say and taking steps to serve their needs.


Compare all-in-one vs. standalone tools. Companies implementing software often err in one of two ways:

·      They choose a product that only handles one function. On the plus side, these products are typically easy to use. On the downside, users may need several different types of software to accomplish a task. Logging in and out of different apps all day isn’t very efficient.

·      They choose a product that offers more functionality than they need. On the plus side, it’s nice to have software that can grow with your business. On the downside, if your software is too complex to learn and use, employees won’t make the most of its functions.  

You need to find the sweet spot: a product that does everything (or almost everything) you need it to do and nothing (or almost nothing) that you don’t.


Consider the total cost of ownership. “Cost” is the number-one reason dentists give for not using technology. But since just one no-show or cancellation per day can cost the average dental practice $30,000 in lost revenue annually, it’s important to assess both the total cost and the potential ROI of new software.

Total cost of ownership (TCO) goes beyond the price or licensing fees. It’s a comprehensive assessment of the costs of acquiring hardware and software, management and support, communicating the benefits of the software to, expenses to the end-user, and opportunity cost—that is, the cost of time normally spent on other tasks that will be spent on installing, learning and getting up to speed on the new software.

To estimate ROI, assess the expected cost savings the software will generate and potential for additional revenues the software will create. (For example, patient communication software can have a big effect on loyalty.) How long will the investment take to pay back? Measure both TCO and ROI out for at least two or three years.


Find out what type of customer support is available. What type of training is provided to new users? Once the system is up and running, can you get help online, on the phone, or only via email? How soon can you expect a response in an emergency? What if you need help on a weekend or after office hours? Is customer support included with the solution or does it cost extra?


Step 4: Enjoy the benefits

Once you’ve adopted the new technology, make the most of all training provided. Then track your results to make sure that the solution is actually delivering on its promise.


Don’t wait until all the other practices in town are using a particular software product to play “catch-up.” Being an early adopter of new dental technology can put your practice ahead of the pack.


Learn more about how Lighthouse 360 can help your practice improve patient communication, retention and recall.


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