Since the advent of the Internet, the term “cloud computing” has been used to refer to a variety of capabilities: online data storage; instantaneous file sharing across multiple users and wide geographies; and universal access to information that keeps businesses running.
It’s important to note that many cloud services have been around for a while, including now-ubiquitous products like Citrix®, Google Docs™, and iTunes™. Even basic services we all use every day, such as cell phones and ATMs, make use of cloud technology. Newer companies like Dropbox® are distilling the almighty power of the Internet down to amazingly simple, low-cost offerings that speed up the basic ways we share information. So, while not a new concept, running a business “in the cloud” has many exciting implications for the dental industry that are just now being realized with stable Internet bandwidth and operating platforms.
“The advantages of universal access and easier file sharing fit naturally into what dental labs [and practices] do every day. Communication with a clinician can help avoid frustrations and, with the cloud in play, collaborating with outsource partners, dentists, surgeons and suppliers can be accomplished in a variety of simple ways.” – Noah Levine, Senior Editor, www.dlpmagazine.com
Henry Schein DDX
At Henry Schein, more of our products and services are cloud-ready than ever before. In particular, Henry Schein DDX offers an extremely exciting network for dentists and labs to submit and receive new prescriptions, share lab case information, collaborate on case design, and manage account details like payments and statements—all integrated with technologies dentists use every day, like D4D, Dental Wings, and 3Shape. DDX is built and delivered online with no software installation necessary, and mobile access is planned for 2012 release. For added efficiency, DDX has been embedded into all of Henry Schein’s practice-management platforms, giving 47,000 practices the ability to create lab cases with just one click and without ever leaving their practice-management software. It’s also accessible via the Web, so any practice can use it—though practices with Henry Schein software will enjoy the maximum level of integration. Any lab can access DDX via the Web as well, so all labs can accept cases with DDX through a simple online set-up process.
The best part? DDX is completely, 100% complimentary for dentists.
As the health care environment evolves and national legislation for basic care enters the horizon, we at Henry Schein see many dentists view the cloud as an elusive goal, a distant utopian future that some may think, like a truly paperless practice, requires sizable investments in software and equipment to implement. For many, distrust of security, questions of HIPAA compliance and perceived productivity loss due to staff training will slow adoption of cloud technologies in the short term.
Fortunately, cloud services like DDX are designed to be low-cost, secure, surprisingly easy to use and, for most, complementary to your existing software. They must, or where’s their value? The tumult of an Internet boom in its infancy is thankfully stabilizing into a recognizable adolescent landscape of minimum thresholds for dentistry: EHR, digital imaging, design and milling, Web-enabled front desks that schedule and notify patients electronically, etc. For the dental practice, an industry-standard practice-management system like Dentrix or Easy Dental provides the foundational software within the practice walls—patient scheduling, charts, financials, and records databases. Then, with a single click from the patient’s chart, DDX instantly populates a digital lab slip that can be sent to any lab, anywhere, with imaging files of any size attached: the perfect launchpad for liftoff.
DDX and the Cloud
In the cloud, of course, the lab prescription is just the beginning. Once a dentist takes a few seconds to submit the prescription, the chosen lab receives an automatic alert that the case is coming (or an automatic pickup request, if the practice chooses). Practices can more accurately schedule the patient’s follow-up appointment right in the chair, since DDX instantly generates an accurate turnaround date based on the lab’s production calendar.
With just a few clicks, the lab case and all its related info is in the cloud—secure, trackable, transparent, with all necessary files attached—and viewable by both the dentist and the lab, anytime, anywhere, forever.
There are more than 35 million lab cases in the U.S. annually. Given an aggregate caseload of 15–25 cases per month, per dentist, and hundreds or thousands of cases per month, per lab, this means DDX puts a critical aspect of the patient experience under greater oversight and provides an atmosphere of collaboration for both dentist and lab. At the same time, significantly reducing phone calls, lost staff time running down cases and costly rescheduling can virtually eliminate familiar hassles in today’s lab/dental environment—hassles that currently slow patient flow and lab production. Given that many practices work with multiple labs, and most labs work with multiple practices, the dental team can now log in and view a centralized case record, with no lost reporting time to patients, lab managers, or doctors. In January 2011, a survey of DDX-enabled labs reported that most saw around a 30% reduction in staff phone time after implementing DDX—time those employees can now dedicate to important tasks such as improving customer service or making outbound marketing calls to generate new business.
“This revolution has resulted in true increases in efficiency, security, accessibility, immediacy, and simplicity, since running software in the “cloud” (i.e., online) frees the user to no longer be concerned about the complexities of obtaining, installing, and maintaining software and hardware and focus instead on exploiting anywhere, anytime access to one’s programs and data.”– Bruce Lieberthal, VP Emerging Technologies, Henry Schein Inc.
How It’s Going So Far
In the short time DDX has been available, DDX-enabled practices say it has helped them improve:
- Efficiency—67% of DDX-enabled practices say DDX makes their practice more efficient
- Competitive edge—58% of practices increased the volume of cases they submit to their DDX-enabled lab
- Profitability—35% of practices credit DDX for reducing patient rebookings
With the program’s responsive, flexible, and customizable platform, dentists and labs can agree on the criteria required for a case and then standardize that criteria so incomplete prescriptions can never be submitted. Zero incomplete prescriptions! In the words of DentalOne Partners, a large dental practice-management service provider, “We partner with Henry Schein on the enhancement of the lab slip, the graphics, and the reporting enterprise and have been able to share ideas. Henry Schein has supported our training of the product and has taken on lab enrollment.” – Susan Huff, General Manager, DentalOne Partners
Put DDX and the Cloud to Work for You Today
For practices exploring the wisdom or efficacy of a sea change like totally paperless practice management, a smaller step that harnesses the power of cloud computing can deliver needed changes quickly, inexpensively and with measurable results. DDX provides dentists and labs with a universal network to communicate using technologies they already have, speeding adoption of ever more powerful solutions that just keep getting easier to implement and leverage for growth. Visit www.DDXDental.com to learn more today.
1Integrated practice management software includes: Dentrix, Dentrix Enterprise, Easy Dental, OMSVision, EndoVision, PerioVision, DentalVision and DentalVision Enterprise.