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How Digital Dental Ecosystems Are Changing Our World

There is so much noise surrounding the dental practice today.

 

“Digital” this and “milling” that, going paperless, HIPAA compliance, 3D imaging, and virtual models are just a few of the buzzwords showing up in our dental publications lately. Do you find yourself frustrated trying to keep up? Do you sometimes feel like the world is passing you by? Everything these days costs so much! What equipment is worth investing in to keep your practice up to date?

Let me attempt to put your mind at ease and bring some clarity to the world of all things digital.

Let’s take a look at why we might be feeling a little confused. We can begin by trying to understand new nomenclature like Digital Workflow. Digital Workflow itself begins with the idea of Digital Business Ecosystems or DBEs. This term is used to describe businesses that rely on information technology (IT) to achieve a set of common objectives. The DBE Process includes all of the business processes, all of the people involved in those processes, collection of all information relevant to achieving business goals, and the technology that supports everything. Now we can tackle Digital Workflow, which is becoming a catchphrase in dentistry. Though the more accurate term would be Digitally Enabled Workflow since every patient ultimately needs a treatment outcome that is not digital. While technology can make us more efficient and effective, it can’t replace actual dentists. I’m sure that makes us all feel a little bit better!

Stay with me now as we look at how the business world is taking hold of this opportunity. In an August 2015 article in Digitalist Magazine, the author, Susan Walker, helps us to see how today’s businesses are making the most of technology and why dentistry should be as well.

“A new level of connectivity, between machines, sensors, people, and businesses is providing enhanced customer experiences and levels of service. Businesses are driving to digitize their products and services. Companies are starting to realize that by integrating with this huge network of connections they can shape experiences and outcomes in a way that would have been impossible operating as a single entity.”

 

2015 Digital Vision Trends

The “Internet Of Me” highlights how the end user is increasingly becoming the center of every digital experience.

“The Outcome Economy” explains how digital devices on the edge are enabling a new business model that shifts the focus from selling things to selling results.

“The Platform Revolution”
looks at how digital platforms are becoming essential building blocks for digital ecosystems.

“The Intelligent Enterprise”
examines how software intelligence is being embedded into every aspect of businesses to drive efficiency and innovation.

“Workforce Reimagined”
looks at how Intelligent technology is contributing to a new collaborative workforce composed of both people and machines.”

 

Hopefully, you are starting to get the picture that the world is indeed changing – and rapidly – but that you are not alone in your feelings. However, once we begin to consider the opportunities available to us to become more accurate, more efficient and more profitable, we should all start asking some important questions:

“How do I become more engaged in this new way of doing business?”

“If I invest in new technology, what is the learning curve and what kind of return on that investment can I expect?”

“Where do I even start?”

The last question is the easiest. Building a digital workflow in your own office begins with a computerized office and an integrated practice management system. After that, you’ll need a digital imaging system – one that best suits the scope of your practice. Digital impressions come next with a pathway directly to the laboratory. All of these pieces together create the flow of information and processes that make up a digital workflow.

Here’s an example of the workflow for an average dental office today:

1. New Patient Information… health history, examination, x-rays, diagnostic models, photos
2. Diagnosis and Treatment Planning
3. Dental Treatment
4. Laboratory Design and Fabrication
5. Delivery of Final Treatment

As we walk back through the steps above, let’s take a look at where we can utilize digital technology to make the process more efficient and profitable.

  • We can utilize HIPAA compliant software instead of time-consuming, hand-written forms to gather the patient’s health information saving valuable time and allowing office staff to focus on developing the new patient relationship.

  • The exam is completed on dental software which creates a permanent, digital record of the patients existing conditions.

  • X-rays, diagnostic models, and photos can be linked to digital software that becomes a new patient’s permanent, HIPAA-compliant medical record.

  • Diagnosis and Treatment Planning can be completed using software that permits the dentist or staff to go to a single, central, online location for all of the information needed to develop the patient’s treatment plan.

  • When collaboration is necessary, it is easy to get support from specialists by utilizing secure, in-system emails. Your answers come back more quickly because your questions can be answered 24/7 by the desired provider instead of being limited by regular office hours.

  • Images and files can be shared quickly and securely with those helping to develop the final treatment plan.

  • Treatment plans can be presented to your patients immediately using digital displays to point out problems and to offer solutions. The clarity and understanding that comes from this kind of display is not only impressive, but allows the patient to say yes more easily to their necessary treatment.

  • Once treatment begins – whether it is Restorative, Orthodontics or Implant Dentistry – digital scanners can create incredibly efficient, high-quality impressions which lead to significantly better outcomes.

  • Once the digital scans reach the laboratory, the process becomes more interactive with the dental teams. Labs have the ability to get various steps of design and final treatment quickly approved along the way.

The digital process opens up a whole new world of efficiency for dentists and laboratories by making it easier to connect with each other from virtually anywhere.

This speeds up the process and leads to a more acceptable end-point of treatment. If the digitally-enabled workflow has achieved its goal, dentists will require less chair time, produce higher quality restorations, and exceed the demands of busy patients.

Communication and tracking between specialists, laboratories, and digital services are becoming more simplified.

A digital workflow allows us to, in effect, create virtual patients to enhance the planning, treatment, and execution which leads to a better patient experience overall.

What role does Centergistix play in the digital workflow paradigm?

It is the glue that binds it all together. It’s the essential building block to your digital ecosystem! We’ve created the communication tool that keeps all of the digital components working seamlessly for you and your patients. For the first time, you can efficiently utilize the digital workflow and create communication channels that open the doors to endless possibilities of collaboration – all in one, cloud-based solution. Centergistix will help you connect all of the pieces and grow your practice.

Everyone in the industry is striving for better dentistry and more comprehensive solutions. We can no longer sit on the sidelines and wonder when the time will be right to take the next digital step. J. Paul Getty got it right when he said, “In time of rapid change, experience can be our worst enemy.” We can no longer rely on old systems to grow in a modern world.

 

The technology – and the opportunity to invest in the future of your practice – is here today.