University clinics can reduce costs with dental software tools

December 16th, 2013

Maximizing the efficiency of university-run clinics can be a major challenge for academic institutions, but dental hygiene school software offers the tools necessary to manage the many moving parts of a dynamic operation.

Fully-functioning clinics represent one of the most important elements of any educational program in the oral health industry. Students who are required to gain real-world experience providing proper dental hygiene care for patients in the community can benefit from the proximity to these activities. Many of these institutions represent the only reliable option for quality oral health care in the area. For instance, the Indianapolis-area Fox affiliate FOX59 reported the recent closure of an Indiana University dental clinic that offered low-cost services to people on the city's north side has had a profound effect on the availability of affordable dental hygiene care. A new clinic will be opening in its in place in January, but residents have already felt the impacts of the university's absence.

"This has all crept up on folks pretty quickly here," John Williams, dean of the IU School of Dentistry, told the station. "We do a lot of patient care certainly in the context of education; so we welcome patients to be affiliated with the school. We're just not in the position to provide free or excessively low-cost care."

The problem is that running a fully-operating clinic while simultaneously managing academic operations is a challenging process that can lead to large overhead costs. A recent article published on DentistryIQ, the website of a major industry publishing network, said many oral health organizations – whether private practices or university affiliates – struggle to properly organize their scheduling procedures. Too often, both patients and health care providers are inclined to set aside appointments for weeks and months at a time. This decision can ultimately lead to confusion or a larger number of missed consultations.

Technology increases operational flexibility
The right software for dental hygiene schools can significantly improve the operational efficiency of an academic institution. Many schools rely on separate management systems for their community-based clinics and their student-related educational responsibilities. However, organizations can easily integrate all of these tasks into one centralized system with a dynamic dental software program. The use of electronic health records can not only eliminate the costs associated with a reliance on paper, but it can also create greater flexibility when it comes to scheduling appointments and collecting important data from patients. DentistryIQ said clinics that are able to set aside a certain amount of time each day to spontaneous, same-day procedures will likely have a much better chance of streamlining operations and experiencing long-term growth.

"Being somewhat flexible and nimble with the daily schedule helps to manage the art of adding unscheduled treatment to the day," the article stated. "Lastly, when anyone on the team can comfortably close financial arrangements quickly, before commencing any same-day treatment, it becomes so much easier to get patients moving now, as you save the step of handing off the patient to your financial coordinator."

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