The cost of electronic dental records (EDR) and practice management systems is a major concern for any dental practice looking to make the transition from paper records. It requires significant time and resources to digitize existing records and it should generate a positive return on investment to be successful. However, a recent study on the ROI from implementing an EDR system found that the average physician would lose $43,743 over a period of five years and only 27 percent of all practices achieve a positive ROI.
So how do you make sure that your investment pays off? Here are some ways you can do that:
1. Reduce high initial cost
Practices can typically choose between traditional EDR or cloud-based software. The former requires a high capital outlay for both software licenses as well as upgrading or buying hardware. Cloud-based solutions operate on a subscription based monthly/yearly billing system and do not require powerful computers which works out to be cheaper. This keeps your options open if you don’t like the service instead of an all or nothing approach.
2. Be committed to the change
Almost half the practices observed in the study did not realize cost savings from eliminating paper simply because they continued to use papercharts & records. Not only does it take more time to maintain two different systems, it is difficult to coordinate the changes between paper and electronic records. This also means no one knows which version has the latest information or who made the last changes to the files. It breaks workflows if your employees have to think whether a given chart is in the computer or the filing cabinet.
3. Train employees
Many professionals forget that converting to an electronic system requires the employees to change the way they accomplish tasks. Someone who is very efficient at paper charts need not necessarily be comfortable with computers. Employees who have used the same processes for years may have to re-learn how to do the same things with new devices or software. Giving adequate training and support before the system goes live will go a long way to realizing productivity gains.
4. Maximize revenue streams
Trained staff using good EDRs can reduce coding errors which leads to improved insurance claim reimbursements and shorter payment cycles. Shorter patient visits mean that you can see more patients. Eliminating paper records also reduces printing, ink and postage expenses. Forty five percent of physicians also reported lower dictation expenses and billing services costs.
As you can see, it is easier to generate positive ROI if your practice takes advantage of all the features offered by EDRs.