Dental practices may implement electronic dental record systems (EDR) for a number of reasons – to save time, increase productivity, offer better patient care and so on. Increasing profitability is another, whether it is through reduced costs, increased efficiency or both. Expenses related to filing, postage, copying records etc can all be reduced and they help boost employees’ productivity as they can spend less time with unnecessary tasks.
Both dentists and other employees in the practice spent a lot of their time in creating, updating and maintaining patient health records. The hours spent by each employee in such tasks is unproductive from a financial perspective, though necessary. Having all such files available in digital format is more efficient and cost-effective. It often means that there are fewer occasions where you have to ask your employees to work overtime or on the weekends, leading to less payroll expenses.
In fact, once all the old paper records have been converted to electronic format and a process is put in place for directly creating new records within the EDR, many practices find that the work can be done by fewer employees than before. A clinic might find that where it needed four receptionists to man the front desk, now it needs only two. There are a number of ways this could happen: employees may be more productive since they do not have to waste time in looking up information, billing and payment are seamless and quick etc.
However, not all practices cut down on the number of employees. In many cases, employees manage to complete unnecessary tasks faster than before, leaving them with more time to engage in productive work such as handling patients. Often, dentists take advantage of this to see more patients in their daily schedule thereby increasing revenues. Rather than cutting down on employee costs, they prefer to increase the daily income of the practice. This can work out to be a better strategy in the long term since it is expensive to recruit and train good employees. A practice might fire a couple of good workers, only to find after 2 months that they need to hire new people to accommodate increasing patient inflow.
Even though implementing an EDR system can enable you to cut costs by reducing your workforce, it may be prudent to retain your trained workers who are better equipped to handle extra work than having to hire new employees later on.