There are many great reasons for dental offices to transition from paper charts to digital charts, though change in any capacity always takes work. Rest assured, this change will be well worth your efforts, and those of your staff. Your investment of time and money will not be wasted, and for years to come you’ll enjoy significant improvements in how your office functions from day to day. Your team will also appreciate the new system, once they adapt and accept the change. Being a chartless office can even become part of your marketing, because it offers many benefits to patients, as well.

Dentists have to take the reins for this transition, providing resources and leadership. Three areas in particular should take top priority: training, leadership, and support. If you plan first, then execute the transition, you’ll set the stage for a smooth and well organized change.

Undergo Team Training for Digital Technology

First and foremost, any dentist who goes chartless needs training. The best advice comes from Dr. Larry Emmott. On his blog, he recommends that everyone on staff is trained, and retrained annually, on the selected practice management software. This will ensure that the entire team knows how to integrate digital systems into their daily functions. They will see how the overall system works well when everyone performs their assigned duties properly and consistently.

Some components of your digital office may include digital imaging, photography, and impressions. These tools will serve you best if your knowledge of them is up to date, so your team should stay on top of training on the tools you use, as well as the software.

Prepare yourself for some discomfort. Have you ever purchased a new brand of cell phone, or learned to work on a Mac after having worked with a PC for years? The change can be frustrating, as you strive to become proficient in the (supposedly intuitive) new systems. In time, however, the headaches become history, and the payoff is well worth your effort.

Your team may buck the transition, because at first, it will be faster and easier to do things the old way. Once a digital office is in place, however, your production and communication with gain rhythm and become more efficient. Take small steps, and don’t give up, but most importantly…

Set a Good Example by Doing Your Part Consistently

Perhaps the biggest challenge to any transition is falling back into old habits, even for a strong leader who quarterbacks a change. To guide your team’s success, you must not only set the stage with a positive attitude about your investment, but you have to actually do your part consistently, without fail.

Using digital treatment planning software can seem tedious, particularly if you’re short on time. But if you skip your assigned tasks in the transition to a chartless office, your staff members will either resent you or slip into bad habits, following your example. They will see your priorities and adopt them as theirs. Your actions will say that saving time today is more important than saving time tomorrow, when your mouth has said that a time investment today will save us more time in the future.

You may need to budget more time in the schedule, spending a few more hours at the office each day after or before seeing patients, to make certain you lead by good, consistent example.

This kind of reliable and predictable leadership will win the loyalty of your staff members, but you must also make sure they do not slip. Stick to the guidelines established in training, and expect everyone on your team to do the same. If one is not held accountable, others will feel resentful. In the transition to a chartless office, employee management is essential to success.

Line Up Excellent Technical Support

Training on how to use a digital office and implementing what you learned are only the first two steps to successful transition. Think of your software and computer system as part of the team. It, too, must consistently function properly. You and your staff members absolutely cannot use your digital system if your computers fail. For this reason, excellent and reliable technical support is a must, for any dental office that’s going paperless.

Imagine that your office is having a great day. All employees are using their training to integrate digital recordkeeping into the office, and communication is smooth between the front and back office. You’re noticing that appointments run more efficiently and quickly, and patients have commented that the new system really does save time. Then a computer revolts. For seemingly no reason, an integral part of the puzzle fails, the system comes to a screeching halt, and you have a full schedule.

The office breaks out into chaos as team members start searching for paper records in the storage room, the schedule falls behind, and patients become frustrated – as do you and your staff. This, you will think, is why I didn’t want to make the transition in the first place! But stop right there. If you plan ahead, help will be only a phone call away.

When it happens (and it will happen), you will need to call on technical support, stat. Arevtech is a US-based technical support firm that serves dentist offices across the nation. We provide timely, helpful service for common and not-so-common technical issues, so your office can quickly get up and running smoothly again. To learn more about our technical support services, call us.

Planning and Execution Key to Success

Before you leap into the big transition from paper charts to digital charts, plan ahead. Research the best technology and software, and make sure you find good training for your team. Commit to set an example and hold your staff accountable for doing their part. When everyone works together, with positivity and consistency, the process can be quite smooth. Lastly, even prior to beginning your transition, find reputable and reliable technical support. With the right tools and a good team, this big change can yield big success.

Author: Ron Vesely