Advancements in Dental Care: How New Tech Is Shaping the Future of Dentistry

As you’ve likely already noticed, there is an evolving expectation for businesses to meet users where they are and bring a level of modern sophistication to every patient experience. In dentistry, we’ve seen significant advances recently in consumer messaging and even AI-based tech that augments traditional diagnostic tools to increase efficiency and provide clinicians with deeper insight. Consider issues that were once the domain of large corporations, like ransomware or phishing attacks, are now relevant to all businesses. Your practice can no longer rely on “flying under the radar.” 

Technology in dentistry is constantly evolving. With over two decades of expertise, we spoke with David Hanson, the Chief Information Officer at Apex Dental Partners, to understand the trajectory of tech in the dental industry. Hanson’s career began as a developer, where he refined his skills across areas such as web development, e-commerce, and mobile applications. He then embarked on a path of consultancy, delving into cloud infrastructure and integration of enterprise resource planning systems. In his current role, Hanson oversees the IT infrastructure and software development for Apex and its expansive network of over 40 uniquely branded dental practices across Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas. 

At Apex, If a practice is struggling, we can likely say we’ve encountered this problem before. Hanson says, “Technology isn’t new and scary to us. We are problem solvers, and we’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. Our goal is to help our practices get back to focusing on taking care of the patient. That’s the distinct advantage to the way we operate.”

5 Tips for Embracing New Technology

1.Prioritize Patient Care

“We want to prioritize technology that helps the patient have a closer relationship with your practice and team,” advises Hanson. “At the same time, we want to do that in a way that protects patient records and provides security to the patient and the data within the practice. A fantastic patient experience is one where they trust us not only with their dental care but also with their private health information.”

By investing in state-of-the-art equipment and software, practices can expedite accurate diagnoses, offer minimally invasive treatments, and personalize patient interactions. We recommend embracing tools that offer improved diagnosis, treatment, and communication with patients. The right technology solutions will integrate well into your current workflow and elevate the overall patient experience. 

2. Use Software That Streamlines Administrative Tasks

Create or invest in tools that help the practice run as efficiently and streamlined as possible for your team. By harnessing technology to automate tasks such as appointment scheduling, patient record management, billing, and inventory tracking, your practice can reclaim valuable time and resources while empowering staff to focus on providing higher-quality patient care. 

Hanson suggests, “At Apex before we implement new platforms for our administrative team, we want to make sure that the process is well thought through. We have to ask, ‘Is this time well spent?’ and, ‘How can we make sure our teams understand the added value?’”

By working in tandem with our Clinical Leadership Council, Hanson has been able to put himself in the shoes of our in-office teams to assess if the strategies and software he develops will make the work of each practice more pleasant, simple, and straightforward. 

3. Develop Processes to Ensure HIPAA Compliance

In data security, the cultivation of a process-driven organization is essential. With the sensitive nature of patient information, the establishment of robust processes to ensure HIPAA compliance is more important than ever. Establishing safeguards within the organization, such as conducting regular audits of user access to electronic PHI systems, monitoring unauthorized access attempts, and creating employee HIPAA training programs is vital when evaluating the effectiveness of the processes and allows for procedures to be adapted to evolving security demands.

These safeguards also provide an opportunity to assess the staff’s comfort level in embracing the processes. “You don’t want to throw a procedure at them and then expect them to blindly follow the steps. The goal is to help them understand and feel invested in keeping patient data safe,” says Hanson.

4. Don’t Get Too Attached to Vendors

Managing contract negotiations requires a delicate balance. While it can be tempting to take advantage of the entire spectrum of tools available to enhance patient experience, vendors are constantly looking for ways to improve their bottom line. Hanson clarifies, “You have to be very careful with your vendors, especially those in the marketing and technology spaces. These high-tech companies frequently have large investors, which means they must make a return on their investment. Once you get deep into integration with a company, they may turn around and try to make a larger profit off of you by increasing rates.” If your contract no longer works for both parties, you should be flexible to explore new options. Ask yourself: 

    • Does the vendor’s solution still align with our practice’s requirements? 
    • Is the product performing reliably without frequent downtime or issues? 
    • Does the vendor’s technology integrate well with other systems/software in the practice? 
    • Is the technology intuitive and user-friendly?
    • Does the technology enhance the patient experience?

If you answer negatively to any of these questions, it may be time to find a new vendor or renegotiate a current agreement. 

At Apex, we try to avoid locking into specific vendors for long-term projects. As a growing organization, we have software developers who can help us integrate open-source software or write our own software to help us have more control when it comes to contract negotiations. This benefits our practices because we can acquire more specialized technology at a lower cost than a private practice could on its own.

5. Stay up-to-date on Tech Changes 

Continuing education events are a great way to get exposure to new technology. Looking at the trends of what vendors are investing in, can give you a more clear picture of what upcoming technologies may look like and how modern advancements may soon affect your practice. 

Hanson also recommends staying aware by looking beyond dentistry to technology in other sectors like AI. 

However, the best way to adapt and learn to embrace tech changes is by partnering with a group of industry experts who specialize in managing the systems that move your practice forward. 

Elevating Your Tech Through an Apex Partnership

At Apex, we have dedicated software for marketing, patient communication, practice organization, clinical efficiency, and more; all designed to enhance the user experience for our team members. This approach allows our clinicians an unfiltered view of treatment acceptance, patient experience, practice collection, P&L, and more. By entrusting this level of insight to our clinical leaders, we empower them to deliver an elevated experience to our patients, ultimately fulfilling our mission to deliver exceptional dental care.

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By choosing the right partner, selling your dental practice can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your professional career. At Apex Dental Partners, we work closely with you every step of the way to ensure you feel comfortable and confident you're making the best decision for your future.