Cloud Technology Lights the Way for the Future of Dentistry

By Robert McDermott, President and CEO, iCoreConnect

There’s never been a better time to leverage technology in dentistry. It’s more accessible, secure and efficient than ever before. No matter how long you’ve been in dentistry, it’s likely dental school didn’t teach much in the way of computer software and programming or offer a Master of Business Administration. Fortunately, what you need to know is simple. It’s all about integrating cloud-based software to speed up clinical workflow and enhance patient care.

Cloud-based technology and services are rapidly becoming the preferred backbone to run any business. The technology model, Software-as-a-Service or SaaS, is a term you may have heard before. SaaS is more commonly referred to as web-based, hosted or on-demand software. For example, cloud-based Microsoft Office 365, Amazon and Dropbox are all SaaS platforms and are all accessed through the internet.

Here’s why all of that is important to dentistry. Cloud-based software replaces traditional servers and hard drives located inside a dental office. Those servers require expensive maintenance and upgrades. They put patient and practice data at high risk of theft, failure or loss. Think about what happens if that server is hacked by a cybercriminal or destroyed by a busted bathroom pipe. Or, the server simply fails one day. Compromised or lost data can crush a practice.

Here are three ways technology today changes the way dentists do business.

Streamline Daily Repetitive Tasks

What are two tasks that take time and are done frequently? Most likely they include checking insurance benefits and writing a variety of prescriptions. Let’s start with insurance. When the doctor discovers a patient needs a crown, a staff member will then need to check the patient’s insurance. That patient may walk out the door without a follow-up appointment because she is waiting to find out what, if anything, she will owe out of pocket. Today, there is specialized software that checks insurance benefits immediately. Armed with the actual insurance information needed for next steps, a patient is more likely to book the appointment and show up for it. Anxiety over financial surprises is no longer lingering. The patient gets needed treatment and the practice remains financially on track.

Electronic prescribing is another big deal for better clinical workflow. Many Florida doctors implemented e-prescribing when the law went into effect in January 2020. However, dentists with expiring waivers or whose licensure renewal takes effect by July 1 will need to make the switch now. Software designed specifically for dentists to e-prescribe all medications, including controlled substances, also may offer direct access to E-FORCSE (Florida Prescription Drug Monitoring Program) for rapid prescription history checks of a Schedule II-V controlled substance. e-Prescribing with rapid PDMP checks makes clinical workflow faster, safer, and better for both the patient and the practice.

By simply streamlining insurance checks and the prescription process, time is given back to the day and patient care is kept on track. The next two steps add to the security, peace of mind and efficiency of running a practice.

Move Data to the Cloud

If practice data is stored in a physical server in the office and then backed up to a physical hard drive, trouble may await. Backing up to a hard drive in the office, or one that travels home with the dentist or a staff member, puts protected health information (PHI), financial information and all practice information at risk of being stolen, hacked or accidentally destroyed. The strongest protection comes from using a cloud-based backup service. PHI and all other data is backed up every time a key is clicked on the keyboard. The sensitive data lives on servers across multiple locations, protected at the highest level of cyber and physical security.

Take IT Off Your Plate

Even though you may be savvy to technology, your first love and priority is dentistry. It is prudent for a practice to engage in the services of a managed services provider (MSP). An MSP takes care of everything IT at a predictable monthly rate. An MSP team doesn’t even need to be in the same city as the practice. They can continually maintain, update, and prioritize security and compliance of the practice’s computers and secure email from anywhere. Issues are immediately mitigated or simply don’t happen. Once again, the cloud makes big business sense.

Leveraging technology at any stage of a dentist’s career is the economical, practical and proactive way to do business. The dental industry needs a fresh approach to speed up clinical workflow and make dentistry even safer and more convenient for patients while increasing security and revenue for the practice. Doing business the same way as always may be comfortable but it will keep a practice stuck at the status quo. The business of dentistry has a bright future in cloud-based technology.


iCoreConnect, an FDA Crown Savings Partner, develops cloud-based technologies to improve and protect your practice including e-prescribing, full IT/MSP services, and revenue analytics. FDA members receive special discount pricing on iCoreExchange HIPAA-compliant email and iCoreDental practice management system software. Book a no obligation demo or call 888.810.7706 to see how iCoreConnect’s products speed up workflow and increase revenue.

5 Reasons Why Your Practice Website Needs a Blog and How to Get Started

By Whiteboard Marketing

Every dental practice website needs a blog. Blogging helps improve the overall quality of your website and increases opportunities to rank or show up on search engines when a patient is searching for a dentist in your area. Outlined below are the five most important reasons why your practice website needs a blog and some tips to get started writing a blog of your own.

1. Blogs improve your overall website content by focusing on key search terms for your practice.

The goal of your overall website content is to attract new patients and make it easier for them to discover you when searching on Google. Good website content strategically incorporates important keywords while covering who you are, why you’re different from other dentists, services and procedures, and how to contact you.

Adding a dental blog to your content strategy provides an opportunity to:

  • Continue adding new and original content to your website.
  • Target specific keywords or terms that you want to show up for on Google during a patient search.

For example, a Florida periodontist who wants to attract All-on-4® patients may want to write a blog on the difference between All-on-4® dental implants and traditional dental implants. Or, a general dentist who wants to attract more hygiene patients may want to write a blog about the five reasons why you should schedule regular dental cleanings. Blogs are an opportunity to increase the number of keywords that you appear for in search results. More impressions lead to more clicks onto your website, more clicks lead to more conversions, and more conversions lead to more patients scheduled.

2. Blogs are a great way to add internal links to your practice website.

Internal linking is an on-page search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that links one page on your website to another. The goal is to create a structure where Google can easily understand the relationship between different pages and the content. Blogs help highlight the most relevant content by linking certain words to pages. For example, if you write a blog about the most commonly asked questions about teeth whitening, you would link your first mention of teeth whitening to the practice whitening page. High quality blog posts demonstrate authority through topic recency, inbound external links and user traffic. “Link equity” is then passed to key pages through an internal linking strategy, meaning that links are able to pass authority to the pages they link to. 

3. Blogs help generate important external links to your website.

An important part of building a website that ranks well in Google is “off-page optimization.” The goal of this strategy is to build links from other websites that link to your site. Links from other sites, such as the Florida Dental Association, American Dental Association, or even your local chamber of commerce or high school boosters website, convey to Google that other websites see your website as important or valuable. If your practice donates custom mouthguards to your high school football team, write a blog about the importance of wearing mouthguards for contact sports. Ask the school to post a news article on its website and link back to your practice website.

Writing guest blogs also is a great tactic to acquire external links. Write a blog for a local pediatrician’s office about the best age for a baby’s first visit to the dental office and ask the pediatrician to link to your practice website in the post. External links are still one of the most important ranking factors in Google’s algorithm.

4. Blogs highlight your expertise and credibility.

You are a dentist who stays on top of trends, you attend continuing education and you are considered an authority in the industry. Google’s uses E.A.T. (Expertise, Authority, Trust) to display high quality search results. By communicating your expert opinion throughout your blogs, you can elevate your authority to Google and your patients. Consider adding a quote from yourself or an associate dentist in your blogs, and explain your expertise.

5. Blogs are perfect to post on social media and in patient emails.

Blogs establish you as a knowledgeable leader in the dental industry. Where better to highlight your experience and expertise than on social media and via regular patient emails? Reposting your blog on social media allows you to create consistency across digital media platforms. As you build your practice’s brand, this allows you and your practice to build trust and brand advocates among your most loyal patients.

Social media also is a great place to repost charts, images and videos contained in your blogs. Social media is a visual medium, even more so than your website. Charts and images can be real attention grabbers.

How to Get Started Blogging

Getting started is always the hardest part of blogging. We’ve outlined some steps below to help you along the way.

1. Decide how frequently you will blog.

Ideally, we recommend posting twice a month if possible, but start with a goal of one blog a month. Then, if you think you can post more consistently, go for it.

2. Identify the services, procedures or treatments you want to show up when a patient searches for a dentist.

Before you start writing, determine what procedures will increase your practice revenue. If you want to focus on attracting more fee-for-service patients and you have a dental membership plan, then you will want to write blogs on dental membership plans and cosmetic dentistry procedures. Developing this initial treatment list will help keep you focused on the end-game of your blog strategy — to rank during a search and acquire new patients

3. Create your blog topic list.

  • Start a list of most commonly asked questions by your patients.
    This is a great way to get your staff involved. Post a sheet in your break room and ask staff to add the most frequently asked questions. What are some ways that you can cross sell or upsell services, such as teeth whitening? These questions translate into the best blog topics because it is information potential patients are most interested in.
  • Use Google auto-complete.
    You don’t need Search Engine Optimization software to come up with great topics. Simply start typing your services into the Google search bar. Google will auto-complete words and information that other people are searching for. Give Google what it wants and use this as material to write blogs.

4. Write your blog.

Take the time to sit down and write your blog. Plan to spend one to two hours writing, so block this time out on your calendar to write.

  • Record yourself speaking and get it transcribed.
    If you are a natural orator, record yourself as the basis for your content. Transcription software exists to help minimize the time it takes to transfer a digital file to text. This is one of our favorite ways to generate blog content for our dental clients, because it allows us to use accurate content in the dentist’s actual voice and tone. 
  • Consider hiring a third-party partner to write blogs.
    Find a subject matter expert and let them do the heavy lifting. Life gets in the way of writing, but there are great writers out there that can keep you on schedule with a regular blog cadence.

Overall, adding a blog to your practice website will boost your online presence and build trust among current and potential patients. The effects are seen, not just on your own website, but in other media across the web. Take advantage of the opportunity to share your knowledge and improve the visibility of your practice. Read more about how to add a blog page and blog to your WordPress website. 


Written by Whiteboard Marketing team members Jon Cahen, Director of SEO, with input from Sara Wehrle, Local SEO Specialist, and Kristi Simone, CMO. Whiteboard Marketing is a dental practice marketing firm that partners with 200+ dentists nationwide to develop and implement practice marketing strategies that increase new patient acquisition and build brand awareness.

The Need for Speed

By Larry Darnell, FDA Director of Information Systems

Twenty-eight years ago, I worked for Florida State University and I remember when the campus IT gurus hooked us up to something called the “backbone” of the internet. I had the fastest internet connection I’d ever seen at 1 Mbps (1 megabit per second or 1,000 Kbps [kilobits per second]). Crazy thing is, there was nothing to do on the internet back in those days. I’d go home and use an old school dial-up modem at a “blazing” 14.4 Kbps speed to look at my five AOL emails. I was jealous of the connection I had at the office. My, how the tables have turned. In 2020, I have a faster internet connection at my home than I do at the office. The internet of things (IoT) means almost everything at my house is connected to the internet. Who knew that my blender would need to be connected to the internet one day? Everything being connected to the internet (a tenet of IoT) requires a lot of speed and bandwidth to work.

This term bandwidth is like asking if the pipe is big enough for your data. In theory, more bandwidth equals more speed. Ever see the buffering delays? Yep, not enough bandwidth either coming or going. The same now applies to your office. Digital transformation has led to all things electronic: phone calls, practice management systems, cloud-based backups, X-rays or cone beam CT scans that need a lot of bandwidth to store, save or use, so you need to make sure your internet speed is sufficient for that need. That’s usually measured in megabits per second (Mbps). At the office, my personal usage is 120 Mbps while at home it’s more than 300 Mbps. How do I know these numbers? I don’t just rely on what my internet provider says I have. Neither should you.

Most internet providers have tiers of bandwidth plans. Whether at home or office, the concepts are the same. I recommend you test out your bandwidth. In a web browser on a computer that is “hardwired” (physically connected) to the internet, go to speedtest.net. Also test it with a device that uses Wi-Fi and see if it’s substantially different. You also can find speed test apps for phones and tablets, and internet providers may have their own incantation of a speed test. At home, my provider is Comcast and they insist I use their version. If the speed is substantially slower than the tier you’re paying for, there’s a problem. For instance, my tier is 300 Mbps. One day, I checked the performance and it consistently was less than 100 Mbps. Not good. I called them, and sure enough, there was an unreported issue and they fixed it.

Two years ago, I went to the Florida Dental Association’s (FDA) Governmental Affairs Office (GAO) and used their computers for a day. Their internet bandwidth was horrible. I investigated it and found that their internet provider was limited by what they could bring into that old downtown location. At one point, the internet cable was run through a gutter! Time for a change. We went to a different type of provider that uses a cable modem, so speed is no longer an issue. Problem solved. I’m sure you seldom think about the speed of your internet connection until you’ve used a faster one. It was that difference that tipped me off that something was wrong at GAO. For them it was “normal”— for me, it was unacceptable.

Here are three takeaways from this:

1. Find out what your internet speed is supposed to be.

Your provider needs to tell you the tier you should expect to be in. You’re looking for a number with Mbps behind it.

2. Test the speed over a series of days.

If you use one day, some providers will say it varies based on usage. Try off-peak times, for example, when the office is closed. If you’re info bytes not getting what you pay for, find out why. It could be the internet provider, your hardware, computer or network. You pay for it, so you deserve an explanation.

3. Buy all the bandwidth you can afford.

The need for bandwidth will keep growing and that growth will likely be exponential. We put a high-speed fiber connection here at the FDA that gives each person at least 120 Mbps, even in heavy usage. Our work is dependent on the internet now and that’s not likely to change. Why put in a two-lane dirt road when you’ll need an eight-lane superhighway soon? Every two years I go back to my home internet provider and they upgrade my bandwidth for free. This year they did it without me asking!

Bottom line: Make sure you’re getting what you pay for when it comes to internet speed.


Reprinted from Today’s FDA, March/April 2020. Visit floridadental.org/publications to view Today’s FDA archives.

Cyberattacks: Prevention May be the Cure from Ransomware

By Robert McDermott, President/CEO, iCoreConnect

Just as you wash your hands regularly so you don’t get sick, it’s critical to adopt good habits of “digital hygiene” to prevent cyberattacks on your practice. The “illness” threatening your practice is called malware. Malware is an umbrella term for any malicious software criminals use to steal your or your patients’ data.

Ransomware, a particularly sinister malware, burrows into your system and begins encrypting all your data so you can’t access it. Then a cybercriminal holds your data for ransom, demanding you pay a hefty sum of money for them to give you access to your own files.

Just like a human virus sometimes can be undetected, malware can be in your computer system long before you realize it. By the time you see symptoms, it’s too late. Cybercriminals are continually developing sophisticated methods for infecting computers and servers without you catching on. There are two primary ways malware gets into your system and holds your practice ransom.

HACKING

Hackers secretly tap into your data by exploiting weaknesses in your IT security. Outdated, unmaintained systems often make smaller, older practices particularly easy targets. Working with a proactive team of IT experts, known as managed IT services providers (MSP), is an important layer of defense against attacks. These folks can save you money, time and headaches over the long run. They detect threats early to eliminate or reduce damage well before it gets out of hand.

A particular vulnerability is how you are using email. Only use Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc. for personal or non-patient specific messages. For anything beyond that, set up a fully HIPAA-compliant, cloud-based email system that protects your information whether it’s sitting in your inbox or sending to another doctor’s inbox. There are big differences between an encryption-only email for general security and a truly HIPAA-compliant email fulfilling every HIPAA security requirement. These requirements range from verifying recipient identity to making sure no email is altered.

PHISHING

Phishing occurs when a criminal tricks any employee into thinking something is a trustworthy source, then convinces them to click a corrupt link or provide sensitive information directly (like a credit card number). The attacker is preying on a lack of awareness on the part of you or a staff member. You must educate your whole team to recognize suspicious messages, links and questions to avoid falling victim. If the sender is unknown or claims to be your IT person, MSP or someone in your office yet asks you to click an unusual link, verify the email first with the actual person on your team.

No one is inherently immune from cyberattacks. Take action now by working with a qualified dental IT services provider to assess, boost and maintain your IT immune system. Work directly with your staff to understand what to look for and how to prevent these types of criminals from getting in the door. Healing from an attack is much more difficult and costly than preventing it in the first place.


iCoreConnect, an FDA Crown Savings merchant, specializes in comprehensive software that speeds up workflow for dentists. The FDA endorses these products from iCoreConnect: iCoreExchange HIPAA-compliant email and iCoreDental cloud-based practice management. FDA members receive substantial discounts on both products. Book a demo at icoreconnect.com/fda or call 888.810.7706.