Cindy Roark, DMD, MS, is Chief Clinical Officer & SVP at Sage Dental and a member of Harvard School of Dental Medicine’s Board of Fellows.
Technology has become such a mainstay in everyday life that it becomes harder to imagine with each passing year how anyone got anything done before the advent of laptops, tablets, cell phones and the seemingly endless array of things we can accomplish using them. Although it’s easy to take for granted things like hardware and the software that drives it, some businesses today—to their own detriment—have still not embraced technology to its fullest. This article will highlight some of the ways technology can be used to help a business save money, drive revenue, and increase efficiency.
Although it’s easy to assume that technology does more to depersonalize interactions between businesses and its customers, when effectively implemented, technology has the power to do the opposite. This is especially true for Millennials and Gen Z digital natives who have spent most of their lives putting blind trust in technologies that drive their laptops and cell phones. Companies that offer convenient, easy-to-access technologies such as online retail sites, on-demand video streaming and phone-based apps have reinvented the way in which entire generations live their lives.
Implement A Pilot Program To Gauge The Benefits Of Technology
In healthcare, technologies that include artificial intelligence (AI) have helped improve the patient experience by enabling patients to develop a better understanding of what is wrong with them and what treatment options are available. For example, in terms of oral health, dentists who process x-rays that are run through AI software present a clear image to back up a prognosis which, in turn, helps foster trust between the patient and physician. This same dynamic can be applied across many other industries that utilize technology in functions such as customer service, accounting and finance.
For instance, when my Dental Service Organization conducted a pilot program to implement AI into our diagnostic procedures, we achieved this by working with six practices and compared their performances against 40 other “control” offices. During the time frame, the control offices saw modest single-digit growth while the ones that used AI grew 18%.
Clearly, once we saw that improved performance play out in empirical form, it was a no-brainer—we launched AI across the entire enterprise.
Use Technology To Shift Employees To Other Tasks
In addition to fostering the trust of customers and clients, businesses that identify areas where improvements in processes are needed can also reap the benefits of technology. For example, automation software that can process mundane tasks traditionally managed by employees can help to free up those individuals to work on more satisfying projects. In our supported offices, a front desk team member no longer needs to sit on the phone verifying insurance benefits; he or she can now spend their time directly engaging with patients. This tends to be a lot more fun for them. By giving staffers more rewarding things to work on, businesses can increase employee engagement and reduce burnout.
By offloading burdensome tasks from employees, teams within an organization become more satisfied with their work, and when team members are happy, this has a direct impact on those around them—most importantly, patients. This is an important lesson for business owners and leadership teams to consider as studies have shown there is a direct correlation between employee well-being and patient satisfaction.
In the case of my organization, one process that we looked at closely in terms of automation was appointment scheduling. In order to ensure we weren’t losing business because people were having a suboptimal booking experience, we learned that there was much more value in implementing a chatbot system to manage our incoming phone calls. This also enabled us to shift some of our staffers to focus on other vital tasks that required a human touch, including in-person interaction with patients.
As technology continues to evolve and its impact on day-to-day processes becomes even more prevalent going forward, businesses that cling to outdated methods will find themselves left behind. By taking a close look at how strategic investments in technology will positively impact employees, patients and the bottom line, business leaders can position their organizations to keep pace with the competition and thrive in the new year and beyond.