Dental service organizations (DSOs) of all sizes are building tech stacks to address key issues and propel their organizations into the future. Technology itself is key, as is finding the right partner whose core values align with your own to ensure a good, long-term fit.
At the recent Women in DSO Empower and Grow conference, I moderated the “Breaking the Code” panel with several other companies whose technologies aim to improve processes for dental practices. We dove into how their organizations got started and how they were able to address important needs across the dentistry sector.
Filling a Need
If technology doesn’t improve something in the office, it becomes disregarded or oppressive. By unifying the tech stack in a way that alleviates burden rather than giving office managers more to do, you will see a successful implementation.
Amol Nirgudkar, CEO of Patient Prism, recounted how, eight years ago, he embarked on a journey to create a marketing company aimed at connecting dentists with the right patients. As the project progressed, he noticed a peculiar trend: an abundance of patient calls were generated but only half culminated in scheduled appointments. Driven by this mystery, his team delved into the root of the issue.
“The realization of this chasm, the substantial gap in the conversion rate of patient inquiries into actual appointments, was our eureka moment,” Nirgudkar reflected. “It sparked a quest to understand patient behavior and preferences more deeply, a journey that culminated in the creation of the first-of-its-kind AI bot in dentistry.”
Nirgudkar explained that the tool was specifically designed to identify and address the factors preventing potential patients from following through with appointment bookings. “It was our ambition to reshape the dynamics of patient/dentist interactions, with the goal of revolutionizing how dental practices engage with potential patients,” he said. “But this, indeed, was only the beginning of our innovation journey.”
Today, Patient Prism operates a next generation-AI platform that significantly enhances same-store growth at dental and healthcare practices without necessitating extra marketing expenditure. In its latest release, Patient Prism’s AI solves marketing, training and operational challenges without the allocation of additional resources.
As same-location organic growth slows across the industry, the challenges of today include optimizing marketing spend, retaining and inspiring team members, and overcoming operational barriers to development (i.e., capacity and training). According to James Swan, Rectangle Health’s senior director of enterprise solutions, establishing relationships with technology partners is key to helping DSOs adapt to this new environment. “We have seen mutual success when we partner with DSOs to optimize the revenue cycle and improve office workflows,” he said. “We can shoulder a lot of the back-office burden, which helps them achieve their goals and focus on their patients.”
Leah Crites, Vice President of Client Success at RecallMax™, revealed that their organization was established by dental consultants with over three decades of industry experience. Having observed common challenges faced by dental administrators, they recognized the need for a recall system that functioned as a digital virtual assistant. Their technology has revolutionized scheduling by consolidating manual and time-consuming tasks into a user-friendly platform.
Crites emphasized that her customer success team is dedicated to enhancing the overall patient experience, ensuring patients progress smoothly toward optimal health. She highlighted the importance of mapping the patient journey for successful DSOs and identifying points where patients may disengage. Leveraging technology can improve this journey, facilitating patient progress.
The ultimate purpose of the technology, according to Crites, is to grant practitioners more time to focus on patient care. Without this focus, technology becomes just another tool, another metric to monitor. Crites highlighted the importance of providing team members with resources to free up time, enabling them to build and nurture relationships with patients. As dentistry heavily relies on strong relationships, technology bridges the gap by streamlining time-consuming processes, allowing dentists, administrators, hygienists and all practice members to deepen their connections with patients.
Finding the Right Partner
With so many technology options available and so many experienced partners, the question soon becomes, how do you choose? How do you build your office technology in a way that is highly efficient and fits the needs of your practice? I asked the panel to give recommendations, because the market is flooded with options and deciding on a solution can be very confusing.
The panel agreed that DSOs should start out by considering what they are looking to accomplish and why they are looking to do so.
Examples of what:
- Are you looking to implement AI?
- Are you hoping to calibrate your doctors and elevate your standard of care?
- Are you hoping to help with insurance claims submissions and increase production?
Examples of why:
- We want to improve the patient’s experience.
- We want the staff to be happier.
- We need to reduce costs.
By identifying the why and the what, finding the right partner becomes a lot easier. Partners that stand beside you to walk the journey create a path forward that ensures the investment is not wasteful in terms of resources—not only manpower, but also financial resources.
A good technology fit makes workflows efficient and streamlined. When I asked the panel to explain what is important to consider when building a tech stack, their resounding response was expertise. Providers should consider how long technology partners have been in business and their level of expertise in the industry.
Additionally, while it’s important to identify technology that solves specific issues, providers should be careful it doesn’t only solve for one specific issue. They must take care that they aren’t just being motivated by cost or chasing the “flavor of the day” (i.e., whatever technology has made a big splash recently).
It’s also important to partner with a company that has a very good grasp on how DSOs work and has a solid history of doing so. “You need somebody in your corner who really understands how implementing new processes works and is committed to being there throughout the onboarding process,” Nirgudkar said.
A good partner will also recognize when there are things their solutions can’t do. Often, organizations are looking for one piece of technology to be everything to everyone, but sometimes that just isn’t possible.
“Consolidation within the tech sphere has presented an intriguing dynamic,” observed Nirgudkar. “Tech companies, traditionally known for their competitiveness, are now progressively embracing the concept of collaborative innovation. They’re becoming increasingly open to forging partnerships with other technology providers. It’s a transformative shift that underlines the unique opportunities for synergy and advancement within the industry.”
Finally, choosing the right tech stack and partner can empower individuals within your organization.
As Nirgudkar explained, sometimes we focus so much on how to do something that we don’t think about who needs to do it. But that can be even more important.
Identifying whose leadership is necessary to implement the technology in your organization and empowering them to champion the technology—whether it’s the office manager, the regional manager, or other staff— creates a positive environment throughout the entire project. “I’ve always felt that when we empower the right person, and give them the opportunity to lead, the technology initiative will be adopted and useful at the practice,” Nirgudkar said.
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