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Time is an orthodontist office’s most valuable resource. With so many competing interests for their attention, it is a daily challenge for doctors and office staff to manage time and maximize their effectiveness at work.
Among the daily challenges facing orthodontists are:
We spoke with Claudia L. Cruz, DDS, MPH, MS, a practicing orthodontist and leading dental academic at Columbia University about the challenges of managing time and the ways that new technology is helping orthodontists and their staff to improve time efficiency and patient care.
Dr Claudia Cruz
What are the biggest time challenges facing orthodontists and staff?
The design of custom treatment plans and the delivery of custom appliances is really a challenge for us, because we need to deliver this in the most efficient, coherent manner and with the least number of staff. We are dealing with a shortage of personnel, and that's also pressuring us to be more efficient. For the staff, it's definitely adapting to these new technologies. For them to be able to function and be willing to integrate these new technologies into their daily work flow is probably a challenge, because there is a lot of technology involved. So training and smoothing that learning curve every time that we are adopting these new technologies is extremely important.
How can orthodontists and staff better manage their time?
By optimizing and assigning personnel specifically to where we need them. We need to be more precise, more exact with training staff. If I have staff and they're more tech-savvy, I am more likely to place them in a different position. I also need to optimize time for staff who are helping to process aligners in the lab. This is all on top of chairside time with our patients. So right now, we have less time with our patients, because many of our patients want quick and efficient office visits. So that's why we also need to adapt to virtual consultations. This all plays an important role in how I'm going to optimize that time. The good news is that technology assists us in facilitating all of this and in training for our personnel.
How can newer treatment planning software improve time efficiency for orthodontists?
Treatment planning is key and it really takes my focus and my concentration. So I need technology that I can be completely confident in and that is reliable enough that I don't need the dental lab technician involved. The right treatment planning software will assist our office workflows because it will result in treatment plans that are precise. With some software, it includes features that are underutilized. Some software has so many features that sometimes we decide not to use it, because either I don't want to use it, I don't feel comfortable, or sometimes if I'm training my staff, they don't feel comfortable doing it. So, the right software is very important.
What is SoftSmile’s VISION and how can it improve office workflow?
VISION for me right now is the best treatment planning assistant. It's the most reliable software that can boost the practice efficiency quickly. Why? Because it's very, very visual. It's very intuitive, so that it significantly reduces the learning curve. VISION made me confident to share with my staff and teach them. And once they learn how to use it, they feel comfortable and then our staff can move faster in designing accurate and safe treatment plans. With VISION, you can train your staff and that helps to facilitate delegation.
Delegation is a big, big concept right now in our offices, so we want technology that is time efficient and produces very reliable treatment plans, because that's another issue. We have technology around, that even though it seems very promising,the learning curve is an issue. If the learning curve is an issue for a doctor, you're not going to be able to train your staff. You're not going to be able to delegate. So at the end of the day, what we want is reliable treatment plans and VISION offers that.
Dr Cruz, serves as a clinical advisor to SoftSmile and is familiar with the company’s VISION software which is an automated treatment planner based on actual real-time stress calculation and biomechanical principles.
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