Going Paperless with a Practice Management System
Benefits include supporting your practice, patients, and the environment
Dennis J. Stiles, DDS | Marie Tigani Stiles, DDS
Being in business for almost 30 years, our dental practice has always focused on the patient and building strong and trusting relationships. To maintain these relationships we are continuously looking for ways to better the patient experience. One way in which we accomplished this was by going paperless in 2011. For us, it made perfect sense—going paperless allowed us to run a more efficient practice, gave us more time to focus on our patients, and helped us become more environmentally friendly.
These three benefits have helped us greatly in meeting our practice goals:
• Efficiency. Sifting through papers, confirming they are all filed correctly, and making sure they are legible takes a lot of time and energy. Going paperless has eliminated lost paper records and the time it took to find them. Not only are we a much more organized practice, but we have been able to cut down on our overhead costs significantly.
• Patients are the key focus. Your practice wouldn’t be a practice without patients. This is why our main focus is ensuring that we are doing everything we can to give our patients the most enjoyable dental experience possible. Paper records were a distraction, as our hygienists would have to focus on writing notes, or locating the right piece of paper rather than focusing on the appointment. Now, our entire dental team can spend more time with our patients and make sure they feel welcomed and valued during their visit.
• Going green. We all have a responsibility in today’s world to be more environmentally friendly. A key environmental responsibility is cutting down significantly on the amount of paper we use. We encourage all of our staff and outside specialists to email us documents and reports rather than print and mail them. Not only does it benefit the environment, going paperless also provides an easier, more comprehensive storage platform. Documents are much easier to find when they are all in one place, such as our practice management system.
Making the Switch to Paperless
The process of going paperless can seem like a very daunting and intimidating task, but it doesn’t have to be. Finding the right practice management system can and will ease this transition. We’ve had Eaglesoft in our practice for nearly its entire existence and knew it would be the right system for us when making the transition because of the great support team and the user-friendliness of the system.
We knew the way to undergo this process was to create an end goal, take the integration one small step at a time, and gradually build upon each piece of the puzzle. We started the process in 2009 and were fully paperless in 2011. We began by converting our charts and then implemented fast check-in computers and scheduling.
Practice Management System Benefits
Not only does a practice management system save your practice time and create efficiency for your team, it also helps with the day-to-day business aspects. Traditionally, our patient coordinator would have to go through all end-of-day reports manually, print them, and hand them to both of us. We would then need to pull out valuable numbers or information only to input the data elsewhere. Thankfully, that is no longer the process.
Now, our hygienists can go into Eaglesoft and specify what we want to see from each report and give us a complete overview without all of the hard work of locating and combining the information done by the electronic system. Instead of going home with stacks of paper and a surplus of numbers to run, we are now emailed comprehensive and easy-to-understand reports, allowing us to see trends and numbers we may not have looked at before. With the touch of a finger, we are able to pinpoint exactly where our practice is excelling and where we could cut back and save money.
How Patients Benefit
As we mentioned earlier, our patients are our first and foremost priority. Yes, a practice management system allows our practice to run more smoothly and efficiently, but we wouldn’t be so passionate about it if it didn’t also benefit our patients.
Within our practice management system, we are able to add notes and profile pictures for each patient. We write notes about our patients to make sure we keep track of what’s going on in their personal lives. These are meant to trigger our memory and help us communicate with each patient on a more personal level, making them feel comfortable and more at ease during their visit. The profile pictures allow us to recognize the patient before they even enter the room and we all know it’s great to put a face to the name, especially when we see so many patients per day.
Something else that has saved our patients time is scheduling from the back office. Our team members are able to pull up the practice’s schedule right in the operatory to confirm our patient’s next appointment—it is a one-stop shop. We’ve found that some patients still enjoy the traditional routine of going to the front office to schedule an appointment on their way out, but it is a great alternative for those who are in a time crunch.
Our society has become much more advanced when it comes to technology, and many people are relying on it more and more to make their everyday decisions. This means that having a “high-tech” office has also become more and more important to help capture those potential patients.
Investing in a practice management system has helped our practice grow. From the efficiency to the patient benefits, Eaglesoft has been a great asset to our practice, especially during the process of going paperless. For those considering going paperless or implementing a practice management system, we encourage you to do your research, take your time in the implementation process, and utilize your practice management support team.
About the Author
Dennis J. Stiles, DDS, and Marie Tigani Stiles, DDS, have been working together for more than 30 years, providing their patients in Gaithersburg, Maryland, with optimal dental health care and wellness. Both received their Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degrees from Georgetown University School of Dentistry in Washington, DC, and serve as dean’s faculty at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. Together, they complete more than 100 hours of continuing education courses per year, including at the LD Pankey Institute in Florida.