Dentistry business: The cost of dental downtime

I have practised as a specialist in the UK for the past 11 years – in Harley Street and the City of London initially and then for the past nine years in Wokingham, Berkshire.

Working within multi-discipline referral practices, I have always appreciated the importance of the effective use of the best available technology in providing clinical excellence.

It therefore followed that to provide the same level of excellence throughout the practice, we also needed to use technology that was accurate, efficient and reliable for the administrative functions.
The pace at which computer technology continues to evolve is so rapid that few dentists can constantly evaluate, implement and then maintain the best technology that could possibly be used within their dental practice.

I have always thought of myself as an early adopter to new technology, however, the amount of time required to remain ‘ahead of the technology game’ simply became far too demanding and I sought a more effective way to achieve this.
With the arrival of cloud computing we can now link our office with our home and beyond.  This allows us to continue to provide administrative and managerial input no matter where we are in the world.

We can if we choose to, even continue with clinical assessment, reporting, treatment planning and other clinically related functions through the internet, i-pad and android tablets, and other technology that is now available.

Most of us use iPhones, i-Pods and iPads and if we are honest with ourselves, have become somewhat dependent on them.

I am also sure that most of us (some more than others) have experienced varied levels of frustration knowing what is possible but then not being able to maintain an efficient and reliable contact with the office through the www. – wishing we had the abilities of those ‘tech-geeks’ that just press a few buttons and get things back on track with such ease.  The truth is, we do have that ability!
With ever increasing pressure to maintain profitable dental practices, we must work smarter because it is simply not possible to always work harder.

Can we then afford to have ‘downtime’ from the support technology in our practices?

Not being able to print an invoice or process a payment, a business no-no for most of us!

The embarrassment and inconvenience of not being able to acquire a radiograph, image or a patient’s records, not to mention the looming questions that are likely to be raised by the GDC/ CQC from ‘losing’ the patient’s records.

I have heard of practices losing all their records and not having a backup, I can only imagine the financial implication and stress this could potentially have.
Most of us that use advanced technology have high expectations from it and rightly so.

Small glitch
The disappointment and stress caused by any, even small technological glitch can be significant.  The cost of technological downtime has obvious and I believe significant financial implications for any dental practice, however, it also has a negative rippling effect on clinical and support staff, accountants and other external institutions we might rely on.  In addition and possibly most importantly, our patients use advanced technologies and could reasonably expect us to do the same.  Do we consider the cost of losing a patient that experiences poor service in a practice, due to failed technology?
Calculating the daily loss of income from the single handed practice to a larger multiple surgery practice, it might be fair to say that this could be between £1,000 and £10,000 and more.  This excludes the long-term cost of patient loss, legal implications and stress management for affected staff, not to mention the dentist.
Solving the problem
There is a wide range of ability among dentists to resolve hardware and software problems, with most of us not really being able to do too much really.
It has never made sense to me that dentists would spend valuable time trying to solve technological problems, when there are dental technology experts readily available.
I was introduced to MicroMinder in 2001, by Ed Bonner.

Ed had worked with numerous companies over many years and when he recommended them, I took note.  This has proved to be one of the most important collaborations in assisting us to achieve what we have at smile2o.  In writing this, I was pleasantly reassured to discover that we had never (in 9-years) had a single issue unresolved by the close of play on any business day.  This continues to provide our staff and indeed our clinicians and most importantly all our patients with the peace of mind that the advanced technology that we have invested in will always provide what it is expected to.
The maintenance contract that we have with Micro Minder provides us with the immediate response that we expect.  Helping us address any problem that can and does arise from time to time with advanced technology.  Excellent value for money and the peace of mind with support for all our computer and IT needs.
I cannot more highly recommend a maintenance service that all modern dental practices should have.
Bring on the next generation of technology!

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