With a weak economy and uncertainty about the future it is more important than ever to plan expenses and spend wisely. Don’t make the common mistake of assuming that once you have purchased practice management software and some computers to run it your investment in technology is over. The fact is you will have ongoing expenses and you must plan and budget for them. If you don’t the original investment will never pay off as well as it should.
Ongoing expenses will include training, software upgrades, technical support, additional hardware and replacement hardware.
As a good proven rule of thumb an average dental office should plan to invest at least two percent of gross in technology on an annual basis. For a typical single practitioner with a $500,000 gross the annual investment should be at least $10,000. A better budget would be 5-7% or more for an aggressive high tech office. That translates into $25,000 to $35,000 per year.
One inevitable truth is that any money a dentist spends on the practice is money he/she doesn’t have as take home income. It is equally true that money invested wisely in practice development pays off with higher profits in the future. The trick of course is to know which practice investments are worthwhile and will pay off.
Three areas you should consider investing in are in order:
A complete network: If you still do not have a network with computers in every room do that first it will pay off in many ways and allow you to use your technology in more creative and effective ways.
Team Training: Don’t be stingy with team education. In fact you should try to create an atmosphere of continual self-improvement both for the staff and the dentist. It is worth investing in staff who are committed to the practice and using their new skills.
E-Services: On of the most cost effective and yet underutilized benefits of technology are e-services. If you have a practice management system and are gathering digital data regarding patients and the practice then you can use e-services to reduce expenses and increase the level of service.