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5 Best Ways to Automate Your Dental Practice

By March 30, 2023 January 30th, 2024 No Comments
dental assistant using mac

As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, more and more organizations are leveraging automation to meet and adapt to changing needs among patients and clinicians alike. An article in HealthTech Magazine notes that opportunities for automating healthcare system components like customer service and patient support can help improve the quality and outcomes of life-saving care. The benefits of automation also extend toward efficiency and productivity, with the added value of generative artificial intelligence as an automated tool in healthcare organizations being estimated at $2.6 trillion to $4.4 trillion annually.

This increased adoption of automation is also particularly applicable to dentistry. As an integral part of comprehensive health systems, dental practice can revolutionize operations, service delivery, and patient outcomes with the help of automation. So, we look at the specific benefits of automated dental practice and how providers can best drive this technological change within their clinics and offices.

Benefits of automating dental practice

Like other healthcare practices, dentistry can cost significant financial and labor resources due to detailed workflows encompassing everything from patient scheduling to diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring. By automating these essential processes, however, dental offices can save time and money since they can optimize repetitive tasks, like scheduling appointments and sending emails, without having to hire additional staff. The dental care market was worth $38.21 billion in 2023 and is already poised to reach $65.23 billion by 2030, but cost savings from automation can further drive and accelerate this revenue growth.

Because automation can eliminate tedious manual processes like patient data entry, it enables dental professionals to balance their workloads and dedicate more time and attention to more complex tasks that directly involve patient care. Despite an estimated 64.1% of the adult population in the US availing of dental services like exams and cleaning every year, the volume of patients would maintain the quality and accuracy of diagnosis, care, and treatment due to efficient dental facilities and staff.

Lastly, implementing dental practice automation can improve staff well-being and job satisfaction. While healthcare industries, including dentistry, report alarming rates of employee burnout due to high workloads, digital tools for automation can help reduce the number of tasks assigned to dental professionals throughout the day. Dental offices can also utilize automation’s real-time insights and analytics to identify areas of improvement in staff management and retention.

In light of this wide range of benefits, the following section highlights key areas your dental office automation journey must prioritize.

Ways to automate dental care and services


Make patient intake efficient

Automation can start with patient intake, as this phase of collecting data from new and returning patients can influence the rest of your workflow if managed efficiently. However, despite digital transformation taking over healthcare, many dental offices still rely on traditional paperwork.

Enhancing patient intake efficiency hence means transitioning to electronic forms that patients can simply fill out online. Adopting electronic health records means you can simply keep, update, and store the same file for every patient. Not only does this innovation reduce the risk of human error due to manual data entry, but it also improves the overall patient experience by reducing long lines and waiting times at the in-person office.

Create a patient portal

Besides digital patient forms, you can take patient-centric automation a step further by creating a patient portal. This tool serves as a secure online database that patients can access 24/7 for essential information like medical history, appointments, and treatment plans.

Additionally, a joint venture between MemorialCare and Pacific Dental Services highlights the importance of allowing patients to take greater ownership of their overall health by integrating dental health with acute and primary care. Powered by Epic’s comprehensive MyChart patient portal, patients can communicate with dental professionals, schedule their own appointments, and request prescription refills for seamless health service delivery.

Streamline contract renewal

Beyond patient-facing functions, dental offices can also choose to automate contract management and renewal. As a healthcare facility, digitizing contract-related processes like contract drafting and vendor negotiation can reduce renewal risk, increase compliance, and ultimately minimize service delivery disruptions for better patient outcomes.

So, instead of manually complying with contract and payment terms for medical vendors, contract renewal management software Softrax enables dental personnel to streamline critical processes for timely and cost-efficient renewals. Aside from customizing contract renewals by date and product, offices are automatically alerted on upcoming renewals and have access to extensive analytics for the entire lifecycle of every contract.

Simplify insurance payment processing

Another time-consuming yet essential process dental offices must undertake is payment processing. As a previous post entitled ‘Can You Use an HSA for Dental?’ explains, millions of Americans use a Health Savings Account to expand their access to essential services like dental care and manage costs.

Dental expenditures covered by HSA can range from teeth cleanings and x-rays to extractions and fillings, but all of these can be efficiently managed if offices adopt automated systems. By reducing manual workload, automation can cut down the average claims processing time and revenue cycle, improve workflow accuracy with fewer mistakes and denials, and ensure compliance with changing regulations.

Provide follow-up care

Workflows in dental practice continue beyond a clinical visit. After the patient leaves the chair, dental professionals are responsible for providing follow-up care, especially considering a previous post discussing ‘Who Is Responsible For Dental Implant Failure?’ mentions the failure to schedule follow-up appointments as an indication of dental malpractice for standard procedures like implants.

Dental offices can start improving the patient experience by setting up automatic emails and text messages that contain instructions for continuous monitoring and remind patients about their follow-up appointments. This process can also be optimized and standardized by creating templates based on the dental procedure and treatment plan offered by the facility.

Key considerations for dental care providers

When integrating the automation strategies listed above into their workflows, dental offices must first consider multiple factors to take full advantage of this digital transformation. Regarding digitized health records and patient portals, personnel must take note of data security and privacy laws to ensure sensitive patient information remains confidential. This aspect entails complying with HIPAA and GDR guidelines, while also deploying a cybersecurity defense strategy for data encryption, storage, and documentation.

Additionally, automation tools like contract renewal software and synchronized appointment calendars can only be fully incorporated into workflows if staff are equipped with the skills to operate them. As such, dental offices planning to undertake automation and digitization must implement staff training programs through learning management systems (LMS), in-person workshops, and mentorships. All levels of the organization must also be informed about clear roles and responsibilities in testing, deploying, and monitoring automated solutions to enhance their engagement as relevant stakeholders.

Overall, the opportunities for automating dental practices are limitless, but professionals and organizations must carefully determine which functions — from patient intake to monitoring and after-care — must be prioritized for efficient resource allocation. As with any other form of digital transformation, automation must also be coupled with monitoring and evaluation to identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas of improvement. This way, new applications and systems can be compatible and interoperable with existing operations to avoid disrupting service delivery and patient support.


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