Management Office Design Paperless

Digital Workflow and Front Desklessness

Many years ago in the BC era (Before Computers) when office data was on paper, work flow meant; where does the chart go and who does what task.

Once a dental office develops a paperless system digital data can be accessed anywhere there is a computer, in the back, at the front or somewhere in the cloud.

This new pattern of doing things has been called Front Desklessness.

Does that mean there is no actual desk? No, Front Desklessness is not about tossing out a piece of furniture or eliminating a staff person. It is all about workflow, doing the non clinical business functions in a different way because technology allows us to handle data in a much more efficient manner.

For example, why make all the appointments at the front desk? If you use an electronic schedule with treatment room based computers why not schedule from the treatment room? Who better to make the appointment than the chairside assistant? She has just heard the dentist and the patient discussing the treatment. She knows exactly what needs to be done next. She knows if the patient is a gagger who needs extra time. She knows if there is lab work involved or any of the other clinical considerations, which would affect the appointment time. Just make the appointment.

Often work flow tasks with digital data do not need a person of any kind. For example making reminder calls, reactivating non compliant patients, sending bills or insurance claims are done in the cloud (online) with e-services, no human involved.

Paperless Software

Number One Paperless Mistake

The biggest mistake dentists make with digital charting is they only go part way. For example: They use a paper chart in the treatment room during diagnosis to mark future treatment. Then they take the paper chart to the computer and enter everything again. They will use the computer to create an estimate, insurance forms and schedule. Then they will go back to the paper chart to enter procedure notes, back to the computer to take a payment, back to paper for a prescription, back to the computer for the next appointment then back to paper to check the x-rays.

What the office ends up with is a mess. Everything is done at least twice, the paper chart is still needed no one is ever sure if something is on paper or in the computer. As a result the computer chart doesn’t save time and money it makes things worse.

Once you have the process in place:

Stop Making Paper!


Dental Speaker

The BIGGEST Barrier to going High Tech

Implementing new technology involves more than buying and installing a product – it also requires change. People resist change for a variety of reasons and overcoming that resistance, from both doctors and staff, is often more of a challenge than actually using the technology.

Source: Dental Technology Courses | Internet Presence | Paperless Records | Digital Radiography | Lawrence F. Emmott, DDS | Emmott On Technology

e-Services Management Paperless

Digital Workflow – Beyond Paperless

If a dental team member believes his/her job is pulling charts, filling out forms and calling patients then she/he is stuck in the past doing a job that has (or at should have) ceased to exist. Technology in the form of management software, online e-services and even smart phone aps will do most of the daily practice management tasks people used to slog through every day. Not only will technology do the job it will save the practice thousands of dollars.

Technology used well has a huge ROI, Technology used poorly is a money pit.

The most valuable dental team member now and in the future will be the person who knows how to use and integrate all the technology to do these tasks. Technology should not be the extra we add to our business and clinical functions it should be the core of all off them. The person who masters these technologies will be the practice technologist. I repeat, the most valuable person in the office is the practice technologist.

Here are a few of the tasks that dental staff used to do that should now be done with software and e-services: Phone reminders, taking payments, pulling charts, re-activation, writing chart notes, checking eligibility, patient forms and data entry.

In order to accomplish all this and get a great ROI the office needs four things:

  1. Digital (paperless) records
  2. A web page with Internet access
  3. Intraoperative software and e-services
  4. Most important, people who know how to use it all, a practice technologist
e-Services Management Paperless

How Dentrix Questionnaires can Streamline Patient Paperwork

From  The Dentrix Office Manager Blog: :

For a patient to be able to fill out and submit forms before they arrive in the office is very beneficial. This can help to eliminate surprises before the patient arrives, for example if the patient has a medical condition and has a need to pre-medicate. Having patients fill out the forms ahead of time can also help your schedule to run on time. All it takes is having one patient who is slow to fill out their forms while in the waiting room, to cause the whole schedule to run behind for the rest of the day!

Source:  The Dentrix Office Manager Blog: How Dentrix Questionnaires can Streamline Patient Paperwork


Paperless Records

One of the fastest growing trends in dentistry is the move toward paperless records. There are tremendous advantages to paperless records including ease of access, improved patient care and lower costs. On the other hand we seem to be emotionally attached to our charts. Like old copies of National Geographic, we just can’t bring ourselves to part with them.

Here is the big secret, Once you have the basic infrastructure in place; that is the hardware-software infrastructure and the systems to use them, then you stop making paper.

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General Management

High Tech Consulting

Exhausted dentistAre you having trouble going paperless or figuring out the complex data safety issues and HIPAA. You are not alone. If you want some one on one help contact me directly at

or follow the link below and fill out the online evaluation. There is an assessment tool and a questionnaire to get you started.

Look Here for details Consulting 

It is so easy to make an expensive mistake when buying technology!

Dentists face two daunting challenges. First, if they fail to use new technology effectively they risk falling behind competitively. Secondly, implementing new technology is expensive, however undoing a mistake can be even more expensive. As a result dentists are cautious about new technology and justifiably suspicious regarding vendor claims.

The Emmott on Technology team mission is to help dentists make wise technology choices minimize costs and maximize profits through the effective use of computers and technology.

General Paperless

STOP making Paper

Almost certainly you have everything you need to “go paperless” right now. The only thing holding you back is that you are afraid to STOP MAKING PAPER.

Examine what you are still doing on paper. Most likely you are scribbling paper chart notes, writing paper prescriptions and using paper forms. All of these can be done easily and very efficiently using Dentrix and other management programs. Whatever it is take the time to learn how to do it digitally and then STOP MAKING PAPER.

I am always amazed by dentists and team member who insist on writing paper notes that require significant time every day to write and review but they will not take time to set up digital notes that will free them from the daily writing task. Just do it and then set a digital date. The day you STOP MAKING PAPER.

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Management Paperless

Stuff vs. Solutions

A problem I see over and over again with high tech and dentistry is Stuff vs. Solutions. The most visible element of digital technology is the thing; that is the computer, the sensor the big monitor or even the web page. Because these things are so obvious the tendency is to think of technology in terms of these things, in other words “stuff”. If you have the stuff you are high tech.

Having stuff is nice but the real value of technology is when it can be used to provide a solution. Technology by itself has no value it only has value when it used to enhance our systems both human systems and clinical systems. Most of the time when dentists or team members are frustrated with technology it is not actually the stuff that creates the frustration. Frustration results when the team is unable to get the result, the solution, they need.

A human system for example is the work flow needed to schedule a patient, remind them of an appointment, and get the proper information to the dentist regarding that patient. A clinical system would be capturing a diagnostic aid like a radiograph or detecting decay.

If a dental office has a good PMS (Practice Management System) like Dentrix that is stuff. Following the human system example above many offices will use the PMS to schedule, then call the patient to remind them and then dig out a paper chart from the files to record and transfer information about the patient. They may have stuff, but do not have a good solution.

On the other hand if the office uses the PMS to make an appointment then connects to a web service to send an e-reminder and gets a complete patient record with a single mouse click from any computer in the office; that is a solution.

The office with good high tech solutions will get much more value from technology that those offices who just buy stuff.

Buying stuff is easy (as long as you have the money :-)) Developing and implementing solutions takes a lot more effort.

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Resolutions for 2018

New Year's ResolutionAs you appease your guilty conscience with resolutions for self-improvement in the coming year here are six dental high tech resolutions to consider.

Do the HIPAA basics. The new HIPAA omnibus rules went into effect September of 2013. Full compliance is ideal but can be overwhelming. On the other hand you do have a professional obligation to protect patient privacy. Resolve to do at least these three things in the next two months. Assign a HIPAA compliance officer. Do a technology risk assessment and start encrypting your patient data.

Use the Internet more effectively. The first thing every dental office should do to improve their online presence is to claim their Google Business page. When people search you by name your Google Business page will appear on the top right of the first page. Resolve to create a Google Business page and then complete it by adding content.

Use what you have now. Most likely you already have some pretty sophisticated technology and you aren’t using it fully. Make a resolution to get more out of what you have. In order to do that resolve to schedule two training sessions in 2018 for both the team and the dentist.

Clean up your system. Redundant, out of date and just plain wrong information plagues most every dental computer system. For example, patients who have moved to South America and aren’t coming back; a single insurance company is listed three different times; patients with pop up medical alerts that no longer apply and hundreds of discarded alternative treatment plans that are still attached to patients and listed as incomplete. Resolve to tackle these problems one at a time. Set aside dedicated time to do it, at least an hour or two a week. Do not wait until you have some free time to start the clean up; that is what got you into this mess in the first place.

Reduce paper. A completely paperless record in 2018 would be great. However start with some easier goals. Evaluate every paper you now create. Is it still important? Can it be added to an electronic record? Is there a faster way to do this?

Just like last year. Lose ten pounds

New Year’s resolutions are all about envisioning and creating a preferred future. Whatever you resolve, the future is coming and it will be amazing!



This is a very cool super easy to use tool from Dr. Bicuspid.

Get a free practice valuation when you answer a few quick questions.

Source: DrBicuspid-Snapshot™

It seems almost too easy. Just a few minutes answering basic questions most dentist know or can easily get from Dentrix and you have a valuation. The makers of the site do have a disclaimer including this, “This calculator is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended to provide advice or portray actual results” among other things. Nevertheless it seems to be fairly accurate, the goal is to be within 10-15% of actual practice value and is a great place to start. You can also plug in different numbers to see how the results might vary and from that make some future plans or set some future goals.

For example you can add a treatment room or change the percentage of PPO service you provide and see a change in your valuation.

One of the best features is that you can compare your results to national and regional averages.

The formula used in the estimator was developed in collaboration with John F. McDonnell of The McNor Group, providing a comprehensive range of services to dentist clients nationwide, specializing in dental practice sales and buyer representation.

Management Software

Dentrix KPI Webinar

You can never have too much training.

If you are responsible for improving the profitability of your dental practice, then don’t miss this opportunity to hear from Jeri Sorenson, Henry Schein Practice Solutions Representative and Dentrix Practice Development Specialist. During this free informative webinar you will learn about how to use key performance indicators (KPI) from your Dentrix data to better manage your practice,

Source: Event Registration

Digital Marketing Management Mobile Paperless

CareCredit Direct

CareCredirDirectCareCredit Direct is a web-based software that allows your patients or clients to: Learn about the CareCredit healthcare credit card. Calculate monthly payments based on promotions you accept. Apply for a CareCredit credit card and get an instant credit decision. Make same-day transactions of any size.¹ Select their promotion from options you accept and get clear and complete financing information.

Source: Direct

I love this. According to the web site  the new system is all-digital and completely self-guided experience allows patients or clients to apply directly for the CareCredit credit card on their own, while in your practice. They can learn about CareCredit, calculate estimated payments, apply and get an instant credit decision. And if approved, they can use their CareCredit credit card and transact immediately.

It also streamlines the CareCredit application process for your team or office, with no need to explain the details of financing or manage the application process, so you can focus on your priority‑providing care.

It simply does not matter how good you are clinically if your patients do not accept the best treatments because of financial issues. Offering quick and easy payment systems is not just good business it is also good dentistry as more people will get better treatment when it is affordable.


Stuff or Staff?

There are three possible outcomes when adding technology to the office; only one of which is good.

One: The office buys a new high tech system then throws team members at it with little or no training and no plan for implementation. This all too common approach almost always results in frustrated staff and wasted money.

Two: The dental office spends the money to buy a technology system then spends additional time and money training a staff person to use it. The staff person clings to the old way of doing things, fails to implement the system and blames the technology for the failure. She is the wrong person for the job and either quits or even worse stays in place like a roadblock preventing things from progressing. The result again is frustrated staff and wasted money.

Three: The dental office buys the system, sets up multiple training sessions, develops protocols to use it effectively and engages team members to use the system, learn and get better. The result is faster better service, decreased costs and happy staff.

The determining factor in our three outcomes is not the technology, the stuff. It is the people using it, the staff. How they are trained, how th

Dental Speaker Paperless

Expert Business Strategies

From the ADA “Expert Business Strategies”



I contributed a chapter on Paperless Records. I am honored to be included along with Cathy Jameson, Rita Zamora, Roger Levin, Susan Gunn and others.

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Paperless Security

Paperless Horses or Faster Charts?

One of my favorite tech sayings from Seth Godin; A car is not merely a faster horse.

Why I like it so much is that it is simple, we can all “get it” instantly at a basic level and yet there is a lot more there than the obvious surface idea.

For example, I sometimes get push back from dentists who are worried about the security and the cost of digital records. Ask yourself these simple questions.

Which is cheaper a horse or a car?

Which is more likely to cause serious damage, a horse accident  or a car accident ?

If I was going to the grocery store or traveling across the country on vacation would I rather take a horse or a car?

Digital records are not merely faster paper records.


Starting at Perfect

Dental practiceThe expectation from any patient getting a filling, whether it is an indigent getting it free at a Medicaid clinic, a middle class salesman getting it at a typical office paid for by insurance or a well-to-do matron paying top dollar, in cash, at a Beverly Hills boutique practice, all those patients expect a perfect, defect free, functional filling.

There is a disconnect between price and quality. In fact price is not the right word; it is value. If most people do not see a difference in value from one dentist or clinic to the next but see all dentistry as being either perfectly acceptable or a complete failure then dentistry is no longer a valued personal service but a commodity. If dentistry is a commodity, that is one dentist or clinic is just as good as the next, then it is logical to shop for price. After all we will get a perfect filling from any of the options.

This kind of thinking is what allows third parties to control patients. If the service is always the same why not just go where my insurance plan tells me?

On the other hand patients do make value judgments about their dentist based on factors other than the quality of the filling. They judge us on how friendly we are, if we are on time and how up to date we are. The level of sophistication of your office technology and how proficient you are using it tells your patient you have more value. Doing a filling just tells them you are a dentist.

An attractive office in a nice neighborhood with modern technology has greater value to a patient than the quality of the filling, which is considered by default to be perfect. How much more value? How much more will people be willing to pay? If the insurance pays $100 and you charge $200 will the patient say to themselves “That’s OK that is the price I pay for a nice office with superior technology.”? Or is the patient more likely to say to themselves,”What a rip off the dentist is overcharging me.”?

Hardware Internet Management Paperless Radiography Security Software

Dental Practice Technology Assessment

AssesCHow high tech and up to date are You?

I have developed an easy to follow assessment tool for dentists or dental team members to use to determine how tech savvy you are. This is a great way to find out how you compare to your peers and to discover areas  of improvement.

Using technology effectively in the dental office requires that the office have the right stuff; that is things like hardware, cameras, sensors and good software. However it is just as important that the office use the stuff well. That is the office needs good solutions as well as good stuff.

Source: Dental Practice Technology Assessment | Emmott On Technology

If you want some help developing your high tech office look here:

Hardware Management

Quick Dental Office Hardware Budget

desktopYear end is fast approaching. Computers and digital technology has become just as important to a dental office as telephones and cotton rolls. It is good business practice to budget for the coming year. The following is a rough estimate of a fully computerized general dental office with four treatment rooms.

Basic Requirements

Server                                                                                   $3,500

4 Treatment Rooms @ $2,200 ea.                             $8,800

2 Business @ $1,000 ea.                                                $2,000

Doctor’s Office                                                                     $1,800

Network and Setup                                                           $3,500  

Total                                                                                      $19,600



Consultation                                                                      $1,500

Tablet                                                                                   $ 600 ea.

As a rule of thumb computers should be replaced every three to four years. This is a cost of doing business in the digital age. Budget enough to upgrade one third of your hardware infrastructure every year. That would be about $6,500 per year for our hypothetical office.

Management Paperless

Help Going Paperless

-paperless-notesThe conversion process from paper to paperless records requires three different types of help or support.

Consultant: This person helps develop the plan, choose vendors, establish a budget, set up office systems, assign tasks and follow up over time to trouble shoot and assure completion of the project.

Trainer: This person teaches the office staff which icon to push. The trainer is not the same as the consultant; the consultant makes the plan the trainer shows the team how to do it with a particular software. Going paperless will require training in several different software applications most likely from several different trainers, such as practice management, digital radiography and online communications.

Technician: This person sets up the actual physical components needed. This includes the server client network, all the computer peripherals and dental specialty items like radiography sensors.

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