Scalability and growth go hand-in-hand for dental practices. As more demand for your services lead to more appointments, do you have the infrastructure to support increases in volume as well as more strain on capacity, bandwidth, and resources?
If you want your practice to thrive at scale, you need to develop tools and procedures that can be scaled up to meet the increased patient demand that you hope to see in the future.
Many of the productivity improvements that you can make are various types of “back office automation.” This term refers to the use of software that replaces manual processes with automated systems.
Dentists use back office automation to speed up the completion of various recurring tasks. These improvements free up staff time, help the practice run more smoothly, and equip the practice for growth.
In this guide, we’ll provide a basic introduction to back office automation, including the best uses of automated systems for dental practice owners.
The Benefits of Back Office Automation in Dental Practices
Back office automation speeds up the completion of administrative tasks, replacing tedious data entry with automated procedures. The benefits of back office automation may include:
- Increased efficiency in managing data and documents
- Reduced labor costs
- Improved data accuracy and compliance
- More time for face-to-face patient care and interaction
- Faster turnaround times for patient communications
While speeding up your internal procedures, you’ll also improve the patient experience.
Patients directly benefit from improvements like automated wait-time updates. Meanwhile, automating processes such as medical record updates helps your staff spend more time on the quality of care and less time manually updating and poring over charts.
The overarching benefit, though, is found in the value of time spent during business hours. Your staff’s time will produce a more positive impact for your patients instead of having to spend time doing tasks that do not necessarily require human input.
The value of time spent also can lead to a better employee experience. When your staff feels like their work is more meaningful and less rigid, this can increase their job satisfaction which can lead to you retaining quality team members for longer.
Examples of Back Office Automation in Dental Practices
Back office automation involves replacing a human decision with a digital, automatic procedure. Obviously, some choices require human judgment and should not be automated. However, many of the day-to-day actions and approvals that occur in a medical practice can and should be sped up with automation.
Examples of automation tools in a dental practice may include:
- Practice management software (PMS)
- Electronic health record (EHR) software
- Automated billing and collections
- Appointment scheduling software
- Online patient portals
Automation software is customizable, permitting practice owners to choose their preferred level of automation. For example, you may use an appointment scheduling program that permits patients to view and request open time slots but requires staff approval to finalize a booking.
How Back Office Automation Makes Dental Practices More Scalable
Reliance on slow, manual procedures places a limit on a medical practice’s bandwidth.
Automation opens up a practice’s potential for growth.
When a data entry task requires a certain amount of staff time, (e.g., 30 seconds) that means the task can only be performed a certain number of times per day. The right solution can remove that limit and thus removes many barriers to growth by improving a practice’s scalability.
More specifically, automation tasks help in these ways:
Streamlined Workflow Process
The foundation for any scalable practice is process. With carefully outlined, standardized, and transparent processes in place, you can identify the best ways to implement automation in your everyday workflow.
What process can be fully handled by software? Which must be overseen by a staff member? With these insights considered, you can create a more efficient working environment that allows time for more patient service.
Reduced Human Error
Anytime someone is managing your practice’s computer systems, the risk for error exists. Automated processes can help eliminate human error for recurring tasks so that you can more easily verify and ensure the accuracy of patient data.
Improved Resource Allocation and Time Management
Automated solutions require nothing more than a purchase price, fee, or subscription to access. For low-level repeating tasks, you can trust this system to perform these functions reliably without additional added expenses or time constraints like payroll, benefits, or work schedules. As a result, your employees are also able to spend their time more intentionally at your office, focused on tasks that directly benefit your patients.
How to Find the Right Back Office Automation Solution
The healthcare software market is competitive, with software companies rolling out new products and updates every year. Before purchasing a software program, be sure to vet multiple options so that you can compare and contrast.
Your software purchase should be based on the following factors:
- Price (consider both upfront cost and subscription costs)
- Product demonstrations
- Desired features and benefits
- Customer reviews
Many healthcare software programs aim for an all-in-one approach that streamlines all of your office systems into a single software platform. This may be a desirable approach for your practice. Or, you may only need to add a single-purpose platform that addresses an area of need.
When adding new software, take the time to patiently and gradually train your staff. First, become an expert on the software yourself. Then, provide training that progresses down through your organizational chart, one level at a time.
Implement new procedures in phases, starting with limited rollouts that apply to certain days or certain patient groups. Compare your results and task completion rates with your old methods to make sure that you’re effectively improving your practice’s operations and scalability.
Get More Insights to Improve Your Dental Practice Efficiency
At Duckett Ladd, we’re a team of advisors and CPAs that works exclusively with dentists.
We offer services, resources, and guidance in these areas:
- Tax strategy, planning, and filing
- Back office automation
- Growth and profitability consulting
- Strategic planning
- Continuing education resources
If you’re working on growing your practice, we can help. Contact Duckett Ladd today to learn more.