Technology-Out of the Closet and Into Hygiene

So, you’ve invested thousands of dollars on various technology breakthroughs in dentistry. Whether you are a technology geek or just beginning to dabble, the key to getting a healthy return on your investment is to get your team on board. Achieving this starts with you, Doctor. Being excited and confident about your new piece of technology is the first step. The next step is to inform your team BEFORE the equipment arrives. Nothing sends a piece of equipment to the back closet faster than the old, “unpack it and figure it out” mentality.

Let’s look at a few other tips for successfully implementing new tools into your routine.

1-Training- Before purchasing a new tool, be sure the company selling it provides adequate training for you and your team. Skipping this step results in slow adoption and failure to learn the full capability of the product. I’ve been in several offices where team members don’t even know what technology tools are in the practice, much less how to use them.  You and your team can quickly learn the ins and outs with the help of a good trainer.

2-Agreements-It’s so simple but sometimes team members need to create written agreements for the use of technology equipment. If your hygienists share a digital x-ray sensor, you might put in place an agreement that as soon as x-rays are complete, the sensor is ejected from the computer and put into a basket with all the needed holders and accessories. The basket is then placed on the edge of the counter or another spot where it can be easily picked up by the other hygienist. This small step can save loads of frustration and resentment between team members.

3-Accessibility- This is huge! I often coach hygiene teams that have various technology tools in their office and they are all located in one central location…that back closet again. The theory is that if they are kept there, everyone will know where to find them. The reality is, it just doesn’t work. Hygienists live and die by the clock. If they have to walk down the hall to get the intra-oral camera, that just ate a valuable 5 minutes of appointment time. A better solution is to store the tool in the hygiene operatories. Let’s say there are two hygiene ops side by side. If your hygienists are using a digital camera for intra-oral photos, it too can be placed at the edge of the operatory. Another great idea that I learned from my Doctor is to buy a digital photo card for each team member. This way, one hygienist can take photos, eject her card and then pass the camera on to the other hygienist without having to worry about lost or deleted photos.

4-Scheduling-Allowing enough time for your team to use technology is a piece of the puzzle often overlooked. You’ve heard me say this before…I have never coached a team that didn’t increase production when they increased their adult hygiene appointment time to 60 minutes. It takes time to take quality intra-oral photos, put them up on the monitor and then share the information with the patient. This is a huge practice builder in the hands of a well-trained, motivated hygienist. It can add tens of thousands of dollars to the doctor’s production each month. Adding 5-10 minutes to the hygiene appointment time is a small investment that pays you back, big time. So, pull out that intra-oral camera, dust it off and get it into the operatory where it will work to increase patient care and productivity.

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