Currently located in mid-town Toronto, Central Dental Group (formerly Aesthetics in Dentistry) began providing a broad range of general and cosmetic dental services in 1986. Dr. Jordan Soll and his team, comprising 2 associates and 10 additional hygienists, assistants and office staff, pride themselves on providing a pleasing and comfortable environment for patients throughout their entire visit. Today they serve patients aged 3 to 93 from the Greater Toronto Area and beyond.
Since first opening the doors to his practice in 1986, Dr. Soll has been on a continuous journey to build and maintain a successful and lucrative practice that provides high-quality care to patients and keeps them coming back year after year.
The challenges Dr. Soll and his team have faced over the years continue to present themselves even today – improving practice efficiency and reducing time-consuming, manual work; ensuring complete, accurate billing and increasing practice revenue; creating a work environment that attracts and retains the best staff; managing the impact on his personal time; and giving patients the best possible care and ensuring their experience with Central Dental Group is a totally positive one.
To overcome these challenges, Dr. Soll began to automate his practice in 1990, first by replacing the totally manual OneWrite system they had been using with ABELDent dental practice management software.
"The computer boom was just starting and although we only had a single computer with a couple of screens on the front desk, I chose to automate using ABELDent instead of a number of others I looked at because I wanted to be on what was considered the cutting edge at that time," explains Dr. Soll.
For a number of years, Dr. Soll and his team used ABELDent primarily for appointment scheduling and re-care management, but as PCs infiltrated the entire practice, use of ABELDent was extended to automate and streamline the practice’s financial functions, including billing and receivables. The software was still not being used on the clinical side of the practice, however. According to Dr. Soll, the feeling at the time was that because patient charts were such a critical part of their practice, he and his staff just weren’t comfortable enough with technology to do their charting and notes any other way than manually.
Without the full benefit of the use of the technology to support clinical activity, however, his team continued to find it difficult to fully resolve a number of its recurring challenges, especially around practice efficiency and increasing revenue.
"I heard at an Ontario Dental Association conference that 3% to 5% of patients do not get properly billed throughout the year, which can be a significant loss to any practice," contends Dr. Soll.
When Dr. Soll's practice moved into a sleek, new office facility in 2008, significant change took place, including the adoption of ABELDent for clinical use, initially in support of periodontal assessment work and charting. Soon after, staff also began using ABELDent for regular clinical charting, especially integrating the radiographic images produced by the office’s new Schick digital radiography system into patient charts, as well as for charting treatment history during initial assessments of new patients.
"We definitely wanted to restyle our practice to match the modern, high-quality image of our new facility, and that included even greater use of technology and ABELDent" explains Dr. Soll, who quotes Roger Levin, CEO and Chairman of the Levin Group, and one of dentistry’s most in-demand speakers, as having said "people associate high tech with high quality".
In addition, Dr. Soll’s staff wanted to have everything in one location, so the more tasks they could perform using their ABELDent system, the better. However, even at this point in the evolution of their use of technology, with most of their clinical charting now being done using ABELDent, Dr. Soll was still not using the software when making patient treatment notes.
Following an upgrade to the office’s existing IT infrastructure, including a change to a more robust backend database for the ABELDent software to enhance overall system performance and the addition of laptop PCs at each treatment chair, Dr. Soll and his associates began entering treatment notes directly into ABELDent during each patient encounter.
An assistant, also using a laptop in the treatment room, simply enters the appropriate billing code as each treatment is performed, and the software automatically adds in the correct fees, adds up the total and prepares a final bill for the patient at the end of the encounter. The bill is printed and given to the patient before they leave the office or submitted electronically to the patient’s dental insurance provider.
"It used to take a lot of time and the dentists and hygienists used to get writer’s cramp having to write all their patient notes during their lunch breaks or at the end of each day, but now all that is done in real time during patient visits," says x Office Manager. "The software has drastically cut the time required for note making by more than half," she adds, describing how they are using ABELDent’s customizable ‘common notes’ library to which the dentists and hygienists have added the words and phrases they use every day to describe patient assessments and treatments. During a patient encounter, they simply click on a note and it is automatically added to the patient’s chart, where they can change or add to it as necessary for a particular patient.
"I’m extremely excited about what we’ve done – I think it’s beyond cool", exclaims Dr. Soll, who says that after only a month of making notes online, he and his associates absolutely love the changes that ABELDent has enabled them to make to their practice.
"There’s no bigger numbers guy than me," proclaims Dr. Soll, "So when we went paperless, I took advantage of the opportunity to begin converting our paper chart filing room, which wasn’t producing any income, into a revenue-generating Hygiene Coordinating Centre. Here, someone can be constantly making phone calls to schedule patients for teeth cleaning and other preventative treatments."
Lilly Attento is equally excited about what going paperless is doing for the practice. By way of example, she cites how easy periodontal assessments have become. Previously, it was necessary to write up to 64 entries on a paper chart, while trying to keep up with the hygienist measuring gum recessions and pockets, and then draw and colour the chart to show what treatments had been performed on each tooth – all very manual and time-consuming.
"The ease of charting with ABELDent is beyond comparison," declares Attento. "It’s simply a matter of keying in the measurements as the hygienist makes them, and the system automatically creates the electronic chart, including the visual representation of the assessment."
As office manager, and equally attuned to the benefits accruing on the financial side as well, Attento is quick to also point out that, "With ABELDent, we are able to bill right in the treatment room, before the patient leaves, so we know exactly what’s being done and that all work is properly accounted for and billed."
Looking back over the past 25+ years, Dr. Soll credits ABELDent with being a critical enabler for numerous stages in the evolution of Central Dental Group from a labour-intensive, paper-based practice, to a modern, all-electronic one, with fast, easy charting, accurate streamlined billing and a far more efficient staff who no longer have to waste time pulling, filing or trying to find missing paper charts.
Looking forward to continuing this evolution, he reports that the practice is about to implement the ABELDent Portal, which will significantly enhance communications between his office and his patients, and ABELDent Mobile, so he and his colleagues can stay connected to what is going on in the office from anywhere.
"ABELDent simply IS my practice – it’s indispensable to me and I’m dead in the water without it," admits Dr. Soll, who concludes by saying that the team at ABEL has been providing dental software and services for nearly 30 years and, "They’ve certainly managed to get things right."
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