Learn how to use orthodontic lab management software to drastically improve your working environment in this free ebook!
Have you ever been to a retail store that was disorganized and had inventory stuck in odd places, and you were unable to get answers to a basic question? Then, when you were ready to check out, there weren’t enough cashiers, or there was a long line because someone had to go manually check a price.
Compare this kind of experience to being in a store with a neat, orderly layout and modern technology. Staff is available to help if needed, or you can quickly find the information that you need using digital devices. You can even check out yourself using digital tools. Cashiers have access to real-time pricing info at their fingertips and can get answers to your questions using headsets or voice-enabled apps, all without having to stop what they’re doing.
Which experience would you prefer?
A modern, efficient, and organized retail store simply provides a better customer experience. A better working environment also helps eliminate many staff frustrations.
While you’re not in the retail business, you do have to provide a positive patient experience, and that requires having a good working environment for your team members.
Thriving Practices Work Efficiently
In many dental and orthodontic practices, staff members feel burned out. They struggle to manage workloads or to make up for staffing shortfalls. Staff burnout is a real thing and it’s prevalent. About 84% of dentists and orthodontists report showing the primary signs of burnout, and 86% say that they suffer from high levels of stress.
If you’re feeling it, your staff probably is too. This doesn’t bode well for productivity. When patients are anxious about their appointments, it can also raise their stress levels.
You can help de-stress the environment by providing your team members with the right digital tools for them to manage the office efficiently. Practice management software can help streamline workflow and automate things like patient appointment reminders and recordkeeping, reducing the burden on manual tasks. Lab prescription and digital workflow software also help.
Research shows that workers spend nearly 20% of their working hours every day looking for information and tracking down colleagues or associates. In a five-day work week, that adds up to an entire day of lost productivity just hunting for information!
Besides making it easier for staff, efficiency frees up time to work on other areas of the practice that will benefit from more attention. Time and attention are essential for creating a thriving practice. With less time spent on mundane manual tasks, everyone in the practice can do their job better.
Patients want a pain-free, efficient, and professional experience every time they visit their dentist or orthodontist. They expect you and the staff to be friendly, organized, and responsive to their needs. When they ask questions, they want answers.
For example, they may want to know how much treatments will cost. This can sometimes be a challenge, involving waiting for labs to evaluate cases. It would be great if there were a transparent way to see pricing for appliances up front. The right orthodontic lab prescription and digital workflow software can do that, even for highly customized lab bases in many instances.
That’s just one instance of how an efficient workflow can help enhance the patient experience and create a better working environment for your team members. A digital workflow can also help in other areas of the practice, such as hiring and retaining staff and optimizing processes.
Hiring and Retaining Staff
Many practices today are struggling to recruit and retain quality staff members. That’s only gotten more challenging in the past few years. According to the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute, nearly 36% of practices are trying to hire qualified dental or orthodontic assistants. More than 80% of providers say that it’s more difficult now than it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s not just orthodontic assistants either. Front office and administrative staff hiring and retention are challenging. A survey by HPI showed that more than two-thirds of practices have raised pay to try to attract or keep quality employees.
While pay is always a part of the equation, those quitting orthodontist practices often cite their general frustration with systems and processes. This inefficiency is playing a role in continuing high turnover rates.
While creating more efficient processes won’t completely solve the turnover problems, it will certainly help.
With additional time, you can look for other operational efficiencies that can help streamline workflow and grow operations. Common ways that orthodontists create a better working environment and more efficient workflow include:
- Online scheduling
- Automated appointment reminders
- Digital patient onboarding
- Integrated payments
- Integrated claims filing
With the right digital tools, you can also dive into the data to uncover ways to further optimize your practice.
- If you have a choice between types of appliances or labs to use, does one provide a higher profit without impacting the cost to patients? If so, you’d want to know.
- Is there a lab that has a higher error rate or is more likely to fall behind on meeting delivery promises?
- Is there any correlation between patient satisfaction and specific types of appliances or lab cases?
Analyzing these data points and others can help you make your practice more efficient and profitable.
Your Brand Is the Experience That Your Patients Have
Every touchpoint that patients have with your practice will impact their perspective. Most of this takes place before they ever sit down in front of the orthodontist. Any marketing, online reviews, phone conversations with staff, wait time in the lobby, or interactions with dental assistants play a part in the overall customer experience.
If your practice appears disorganized or you can’t find the information that they need, it can send the wrong message. For example, if someone shows up for a pre-set appointment only to find out that the appliance hasn’t been delivered from the lab, it can cause a great deal of frustration. Even if it’s the lab’s fault, your practice will take the blame.
The overall patient experience may be more important than the actual treatment. Many people check out online reviews before choosing a healthcare provider. If you look at these reviews, most focus not on the care itself but on the experience that patients had. If they receive good care and have a positive experience, they’re more likely to share it with others. This, in turn, helps with attracting new patients.
The flip side is also true. Even if patients have great outcomes and are satisfied with the orthodontists, having to wait too long, feeling ignored at reception because the staff is busy, or miscommunication can lead to poor reviews.
No matter how high your standards are for the quality of care, your brand—and your business—is tied directly to patient experience, and it can be affected in so many small and subtle ways.
Here’s an example. Someone calls your office ahead of their appointment to ask if you’ve received their appliance from the lab. If you can click a few keys, quickly review the status, and give them the information immediately, you appear professional and organized. If you have to put them on hold to find the note, ask a colleague, or call the lab to find out, it creates a different impression.
Being efficient, friendly, and professional during every interaction is essential to creating a positive experience.
Efficiency Creates Time to Build Better Relationships
When your practice is running efficiently, it gives everyone on the team more time to spend on building patient relationships. By reducing manual and time-consuming tasks, staff members don’t need to rush when handling patients, and patients won’t be kept waiting any longer than necessary.
Relationships are crucial to building trust and loyalty. Studies show that when patients trust their healthcare providers, it produces better outcomes. With dentists and orthodontists, patients with trust have less anxiety, which can lead to a better patient experience overall. This results in fewer canceled appointments and increased patient retention.
One study of 11,000 patients concluded that interpersonal communication is essential in establishing trust. While many people’s fear of going to dentists or orthodontists is based on past experiences or a general fear of pain, the research shows that relationship building may be more important than providing a pain-free experience.
How Orthodontic Software Improves Patient Experiences
The right orthodontic software can help create better patient experiences.
Digital workflow enables faster processing and a more efficient system that works better for orthodontists. Practices can process lab case orders more quickly and efficiently in one platform, regardless of the lab they choose. When all information is available to anyone who needs it at any time, things run more smoothly.
The best orthodontic software will also integrate with practice management software.
Case management is often challenging, especially for smaller practices. You can spend too much time calling to track down lab cases to find out the status or sending emails back and forth to clarify details on an order. When you’re not using orthodontic software, so much of the work is manual. Spreadsheets, notebooks, and sticky notes mean information can easily get lost or misplaced. Handwritten notes may be difficult to decipher. If you have a practice that spans multiple offices, keeping everything organized and in sync can be even more difficult.
Orthodontic software can help you keep your practice organized. By going digital with your workflow, you can leverage your orthodontic software to provide various benefits, including:
- Making case management easier
- Taking advantage of the paperless workflow, as it means no more searching among misplaced documents for what you need or struggling for info when a particular staff member is out of office
- Using digital impressions because they provide superior accuracy, which results in fewer retakes, callbacks, or rework
- Improving communication with patients by providing transparent pricing, treatment planning, and updates
With the right orthodontic software, you never have to worry about patients showing up for appointments only to find out their appliance hasn’t come back for the lab or having to make repeated phone calls to find out when appliances will be completed and shipped.
By consolidating all your lab cases in a cloud-based platform, you can see everything in production from every lab in one place with real-time updates.
How EasyRx Works for Orthodontic Practices
For dentists and orthodontists, EasyRx enables practices to manage their lab prescriptions and digital workflow to maximize efficiency. Management of patient labs, orthodontic appliances, and clear aligners can happen within the EasyRx software platform.
Using a universal lab prescription form, orthodontists can ensure that they are providing all the information that the labs need to get started. A universal library of parts, appliances, and templates can be customized by labs to reflect the way that they work and make it easy for practices to choose what’s needed.
The EasyRx orthodontic software provides secure, efficient communication with labs in a digital platform that provides complete tracking and documentation. Digital cases can be transmitted with the click of a button, and cases that require plaster or physical impressions can be easily matched to digital files.
Here’s an example of how the digital workflow can accelerate the process and ensure maximum accuracy.
- Any digital file for patients and prescriptions can be stored and transmitted, including STL files.
- Through integration with iTero®, you can automatically attach scans for both iRecord and iRecord/Invisalign®.
- Through integration with 3Shape TRIOS scanners, you can also link TRIOS scans to prescriptions.
- Rather than hand-drawing or adding written notes to models, you can annotate digital models for greater accuracy.
- EasyRx also provides automatic STL file optimization to optimize digital models for 3D printing.
- EasyRx 3D enables you to view and base STL files.
- Practices can also use the EasyRx Aligner Tracking System to set up a clear aligner workflow to track and manage your aligner cases.
All these digital workflow processes provide dental labs with clearer, more complete instructions on what is needed for patients.
Practices also benefit in other ways when they work with a lab using EasyRx solutions. They can quickly view the most updated status reports on prescriptions to track them from submitted to received and from completed to shipped. This eliminates frantic calls from office managers to dental labs trying to figure out what’s going on.
Provide Comprehensive Digital Case Management
More than 1,600 practices currently use EasyRx solutions to provide comprehensive digital case management to streamline workflow, improve efficiency, and create a better working environment.
Here at EasyRx, we help orthodontic practices by giving them the tools that they need for comprehensive case management to streamline their workflows and achieve maximum clinical efficiency.
To see how we can help your practice get away from paper documentation, confusing spreadsheets, and costly workflow errors, contact our specialists today!