Technology in a Recession

by Larry Emmott on December 2, 2008

in General,Management

We are facing uncertain economic times. I personally have great faith in the American people and the American economic system to recover stronger than ever. However in the meantime people are cautious about spending money. It is easy to put off that new bridge until later, and it is real easy to wait on that expensive smile makeover. Many dentists I talk with are reporting a 10% to 15% reduction in productivity.

If a dental practice is to remain viable the dentist manager/ leader needs to respond. If income is down then expenses must be reduced. A major technique to lower costs used by busnisses for decades is to automate. That is to use technology effectively to do a job faster, better and cheaper than it was done before.

This technique works great when it is done properly. The catch is that if it isn’t done properly technology can be a money pit. Lots of expense with no reward.

The first step in maximizing technology is to use what you already have. Many offices have good hi tech systems  but under-utilize them and do not have any real cost savings. (For help on maximizing your technology look here.)

The second step is to add new technologies that will save money. A good example is to go paperless. Paperless records can save an office $40,000 a year. (For some help doing that look here.)

If you analyze your profit and loss reports you will find that your biggest single expense is staff. People are expensive. (By the way if you don’t have any idea of what your expenses are look here for help.) For that reason you need to maximize people. Any task that a machine can do or eliminate, such as pulling charts every day, or phoning every patient to confirm, or printing stuffing and mailing bills or, managing inventory and ordering supplies, should be done by the machine.

 Every task listed above can be done by a high tech, often Internet based, system available right now to dentists. And it costs a lot less than a person. Not to mention you don’t have to provide health insurance, workman’s comp and matching social security payments.

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