Cindy Roark, DMD, MS, is Chief Clinical Officer & SVP at Sage dentistry and member of the Board of Fellows of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine.
Technology has become such a mainstay of everyday life that every year it gets harder to imagine how anyone got anything done before the advent of laptops, tablets, cell phones and the seemingly endless array of things we can accomplish with them. While it’s easy to take things like hardware and the software that powers it for granted, some companies today — to their own detriment — still haven’t fully embraced the technology. This article highlights some of the ways technology can be used to help a business save money, generate revenue and increase efficiency.
While it’s easy to assume that technology does more to depersonalize interactions between companies and their customers, when implemented effectively, technology has the power to do the opposite. This is especially true for millennials and Gen Z digital natives who have been blind for most of their lives trust in technologies that control their laptops and mobile phones. Companies that offer convenient, easy-to-access technologies such as online shopping sites, on-demand video streaming and phone-based apps have reinvented the way entire generations live their lives.
Implement a pilot program to measure the benefits of technology
In healthcare, artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have helped improve the patient experience by enabling patients to better understand what is going on with them and what treatment options are available. In the field of oral health, for example, dentists processing X-rays guided by AI software provide a clear picture to support a prognosis, which in turn promotes trust between the patient and the doctor. This same dynamic can be applied to many others industries using technology in roles such as customer service, accounting, and finance.
For example, when my dental service organization ran a pilot program to implement AI in our diagnostic procedures, we achieved this by collaborating with six practices and comparing their performance with 40 other “audit” offices. Over the time frame, control agencies saw modest single-digit growth, while those using AI grew 18%.
Once we saw improved performance manifest itself in empirical form, it was clearly a good idea: we launched AI across the enterprise.
Use technology to move workers to other tasks
In addition to fostering customer and client confidence, companies that identify areas where process improvements are needed can also reap the benefits of technology. For example, automation software that can handle mundane tasks traditionally managed by employees can help free up those individuals to work on more fulfilling projects. In our supported offices, a front desk agent no longer needs to be on the phone to verify insurance payments; he or she can now spend his time interacting directly with patients. This is usually much more fun for them. By giving employees more rewarding things to work on, companies can increase employee engagement and reduce burnout.
Relieving burdensome tasks from employees makes teams within an organization more satisfied with their work, and when team members are happy, it has a direct impact on those around them – especially patients. This is an important lesson for entrepreneurs and leadership teams to consider studies have shown there is a direct correlation between employee well-being and patient satisfaction.
In my organization’s case, one process we looked closely at in terms of automation was scheduling appointments. To make sure we didn’t miss out on business because people had a sub-optimal booking experience, we found out there was a lot more value when implementing a chatbot system to manage our incoming calls. This also enabled us to shift some of our employees to other vital tasks that required a human approach, including face-to-face interaction with patients.
As technology continues to evolve and its impact on day-to-day processes continues to grow in the future, companies clinging to outdated methods will fall behind. By carefully reviewing how strategic investments in technology will positively impact employees, patients and bottom line, business leaders can position their organizations to keep pace with the competition and thrive in the new year and beyond.