If you’ve been to a dental conference, read a dental newsletter, or simply spoken to a colleague lately, you’ve probably noticed a common theme: the dental industry is facing a staffing crisis. No position is spared with dental assistants, hygienists, and administrative staff all harder to find than ever before. The American Dental Association shared that 70% of dentists find staffing to be very to extremely difficult at this time.
The good news is that there are plenty of innovators working diligently to build new solutions for the industry, many of which can help alleviate this challenge. While we’re still a few years away from robots doing all of the implants, there are automation solutions to help short-staffed practices do more with less people, from the front desk to the operatory to the back office.
Today, many DSOs track their equipment and service requests via email, paper, and spreadsheets. These processes are manual, require time and effort to keep up-to-date, and can be exponentially complicated to manage as an organization grows. A new cohort of software companies like UptimeHealth have emerged that provide DSOs with cloud-based software to simplify tracking equipment, creating tasks to perform on a particular schedule, or even notifying an organization when it’s time to replace a particular piece of equipment. These products allow users to digitally create service requests and even generate analytics related to capital expenditure budgeting. Applying automation to this function has been shown to reduce the labor hours and even extend the life of their client’s equipment because of more efficient management.
Traditionally, there has been no “magic bullet” for verifying patient insurance. You did it with brute force: phone calls, web portal visits, and fax backs. Outsourcing options have popped up over the years, pushing the job off to another team—often overseas—but with humans doing it the old-fashioned way.
New software products like AirPay offer completely automated workflows around verifying patient insurance, pulling all the necessary benefit breakdowns, and even calculating the patient’s out-of-pocket responsibility. DSOs leverage this type of software in a variety of ways to inform patients of their treatment cost before they leave the office. Those with a central verification function are using these products to speed up and make their team more efficient; others are distributing it to the front desk at the practice level, bringing real-time verification and quotes to their registration and treatment planning process.
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For decades, the periodontal charting process has remained largely unchanged and has always required two people—one to probe, one to record. (I still have nightmares of having to do both myself in dental school.) A number of voice-recognition solutions have popped over the years that took care of the recording, allowing your dental assistant to focus on more high-value tasks. The problem is that they never seemed to function very well—the workflows were clunky, and they didn’t seem to understand what I was saying behind my mask. A new crop of solutions like Denti.AI have popped up recently that use AI to provide voice-enabled perio charting with incredible accuracy and seamless workflows. It seems that at last, this problem has finally been solved.
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Ten years ago, practice consultants preached the value of implementing systems for teams to standardize their call notes in a system that could be easily tracked and reviewed. This was fantastic—except for the fact that it was tedious, time consuming, and most practices did a poor job of it. New AI solutions automated this phone process for front office teams. Peerlogic, for instance, provides voice-based conversational intelligence, allowing practices to review text transcripts, play back audio of each call, prioritize callbacks, assign monetary value to each call, and easily track which patient calls result in a scheduled appointment.
It seems like every DSO we speak to is planning on “doubling in size over the next 12 months.” Of course, it would be nice to achieve all of this without also doubling the size of the administrative teams, and it’s becoming increasingly apparent that automation is a key unlocker.
Dental practices spend too much time on tedious, manual processes and this is exponentially more true for DSOs. By using technology to automate these workflows, organizations can reclaim countless hours that are better spent on growth and providing an incredible experience for patients.
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About Dr. Giddon
Derek Giddon, DDS, is a Brooklyn-based dentist and the founder of AirPay.
AirPay provides automation solutions for dentists to run more efficient, profitable practices. From insurance verification, treatment plan quoting, to flexible payments, AirPay saves countless hours and increases case acceptance for top DSOs across the country.
***DSOPro readers receive 10% off AirPay for the first year.***