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The Digital Revolution Continues to Delight and Disappoint

Issue: Summer 2009
By Kerry & Olivia Straine

Intraoral cameras were the first tool that enabled doctors to help their patients “see” in seconds what they had been trying to explain to them for years. Everyone agrees the intraoral camera has revolutionized dentistry. As a matter of fact, one of the rarely discussed benefits of using the camera is that it also enabled the doctor to “see” something for the first time too—what the patient really wants. Patients aren’t the only people who weren’t listening. But if the intraoral camera is such a fantastic tool why do most doctors have just one—sitting in the operatory that no one uses?

Technology comes with a hefty price tag, and I don’t mean in dollars. The real cost of technology is learning how to integrate it into the practice’s management system. Futurist Joel Barker says any time one thing changes everything returns to zero—every time a business owner makes an investment in technology, everything returns to zero in the practice.

There is a simple solution to all of this: Keep things just they way they’ve always been. I’ve met business owners who still haven’t made the leap to purchase a fax machine and regardless of the difficulty they have communicating with the rest of the world, they are determined to maintain the status quo. It “costs” too much to learn the new technology!

But I ask you to consider this: When does maintaining the status quo start costing more than investing time to learn something new? It takes more energy to resist than it does to rejoice! The technological opportunities out there offer so much in terms of patient service that one might argue it is malpractice to resist them. I tell my clients that every business is like a shark, it must keep moving forward if it wants to stay alive, and a dental practicemust continue to embrace new technology if it wants to stay relevant.

The light at the end of the tunnel is much closer than you think; manufacturers and dental supply companies continue to astound us with their innovations—and integration is made easy with the help of committed advisors who support the willing dental practice owner make the leap from old to new. Intraoral cameras, digital radiography, digital imagining, electronic services, voice, identity, image, dictation, and other patient service and education tools are making their way into more and more practices. What’s the buzz your patients are sharing with their friends and family about your practice?

We have studied, interviewed, and consulted with thousands of practices over the past two decades in order to identify “best practices” strategies. The main findings of our observations are that highly productive practices exhibit the following characteristics:

  • They have a vision of purpose, not just function, and identify the behaviors required to anticipate their patients’ needs before they are expressed.
  • They have a desire to instill the “wow” factor in the minds of their patients.
  • They move from thinking about exceptional patient service to exceptional patient experience.
  • They understand that each point of contact with their patients provides an opportunity to either delight or disappoint.
  •  They understand that success comes from making strategy everyone’s everyday job.
  • They manage processes rather than people.
  • They use benchmarking to identify opportunities for improvement. This involves writing down every single step, no matter how small, in a particular task.
  • They update operating policies when re-engineering their brand.
  • They emphasize continuous improvement and praise incremental gains.
  • They rely on patient satisfaction as the main measure of performance, overcoming the tendency to focus on internal goals at the patient’s expense.
  • They stimulate productivity by introducing a constant stream of new services.
  • They develop their most appreciable asset, their staff.
  • They treat advisors as partners.

You have the most highly trained advisors in the dental industry today with Team Schein. It’s not just a cliché that the mission at Schein is “Everything Dental.” Did you know that Schein underwrites the opportunity for you to receive a complimentary practice analysis that examines the clinical, administrative, technology, economic, leadership, and teamwork components of your practice? The next time you talk to a Team Schein Representative, whether it’s a Regional Manger, Field Sales Consultant, or Equipment Sales Specialist, ask for your complimentary Straine Practice Analysis.