By: Edward Shellard, DMD

It seems like new technology is released every week. Think of how often you’ve had to upgrade your cell phone over the last decade-even your phone’s operating system has to be updated on a routine basis.

Dental technology is no different than consumer technology. Once everyone gets comfortable with one system, there is another system out there that can improve diagnostic efficiency, treatment planning, and patient care. Some of the most recent examples include in-office cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) and the move from conventional to digital impressions.

And, just as your patients need to come in for regular checkups, practice technology needs an evaluation every once in a while, to ensure all systems are up-to-date and in good working order. After all, outdated or broken equipment can cause workflow interferences at best and potential hazards to your patients’ health or privacy at worst.

The following are just a few of the reasons why you should consider performing a practice technology checkup on a routine basis.

Ensure HIPAA compliance

Protecting your patients’ critical information is not only important from a compliance standpoint, but it can also help you avoid potential damage to your practice’s reputation. When systems-even hardware-become outdated, it can become much more difficult to ensure they meet HIPAA requirements. By ensuring that your equipment is recent, or that you have the capability to update it, you are better able to protect your patients and business.

Avoid compatibility concerns

Digital technology goes far beyond the equipment-you must also consider data. While digital data is more convenient than analog, it can create some issues if data storage and retrieval are compromised.

If the recent discontinuation of Windows XP support has taught us anything, it’s that we must be aware of our equipment’s compatibility with certain operating platforms and the problems that may arise when they are no longer secure. Are your imaging systems and practice management software compatible with the newest platform? A quick evaluation will uncover any potential weaknesses with your workflow.

Improve efficiency

Often, we get used to doing things a certain way. However, it can be beneficial to step back and look objectively at your current practice activities to determine if there is technology that can streamline your office and improve overall efficiency. Could electronic reminders help you reduce your number of no-shows and last-minute cancellations? Would switching to digital impressions improve your restoration turnaround time? Evaluating your practice’s efficiency can open up a number of areas for improvement.

“Wow” your patients

Leveraging the most current technology within your practice provides great opportunity to highlight your expertise and to make a positive impression on your patients. When patients feel you have invested in their care, they are not only more likely to return to your office but to encourage friends and family to visit your practice as well.

In addition, cutting-edge systems make it easier to educate your patients, resulting in improved case acceptance. When you can pull up a three-dimensional scan of the patient’s mouth or show a high-resolution intraoral camera image of a cracked tooth, you allow the patient to feel in control of his or her oral health.

Through a dental practice technology checkup, you will be better able to understand the current state of your technology and identify areas for improvement-whether that means making minor tweaks or incorporating newer solutions into your workflow. The result will be a more productive, secure, and happy practice.

Edward Shellard, DMD, has more than two decades of clinical and executive experience in the dental industry. Since 2008, Dr. Shellard has driven global marketing strategy and product development efforts for the latest innovations in dental and practice-management technology.