Let’s imagine a hypothetical scenario where your patients create online accounts so that they can book their appointments on the web. When they get to the clinic, the receptionist asks them to fill out yet another form -- this time on paper, not a digital one. This process can be a hassle for patients, not to mention the receptionist or other members of staff who'll have to manually encode the patients' submissions.
Obviously, processing patients would be easier if receptionists had access to the web portal’s records, but if web portal data is siloed off from reception, then inconveniences for both patients and staff will emerge.
Why centralize data?
The scenario above illustrates what information silos are, namely data sets held by one department that can’t be readily or completely accessed by other departments or teams within the same practice.
There are many things that can cause the formation of information or data silos. One primary cause is that different departments use distinct types of data. HR keeps personnel records, whereas accounting keeps financial records; and both departments utilize different software programs to boot. Data-wise, there could be little to no overlap between the two departments, so silos form naturally and shouldn’t pose any problems for the organization.
However, the trouble starts when information needs to flow smoothly from one department or team to another but doesn’t. To illustrate, let’s say that, as an administrator, you’re managing client data and want their dental imaging files to be attached to their profiles. The problem is, your practice management software can’t pull files from the medical technician’s imaging software. So much time and effort is wasted on transferring files to the appropriate patient folders — and you run the risk of uploading one patient’s files to another’s folder.
Data silos also form when a dental practice grows larger or acquires another practice that utilizes different software. For example, let’s say a newly acquired practice opts to use their own preferred customer relationship management (CRM) platforms instead of your standard one. Since data such as addresses and health maintenance organization (HMO) information are encoded differently, additional steps must be taken to make data from one platform usable in another platform.
While you could require patients to fill out redundant account creation forms when they visit your other locations besides their primary one, you are actually passing on a large hassle. Thankfully, there’s another effective solution: centralizing your data.
Delegate your IT to an MSP to prevent data silos from forming and centralize your data
When information silos impede data flow, induce inefficiencies, and become a nuisance for you and your patients, you’ll want to tear these silos down and centralize your data to prevent silos from forming ever again. To do all of this, you need to partner with a top-notch managed IT services provider like Pact-One. Here are the things we’ll do for you to optimize your IT:
1. Combine disparate programs into a unified platform
Distinct types of business data are stored across various programs but integrating these programs into one platform will help eliminate silo. Our IT experts specialize in building bridges between those programs to streamline data processes and improve the flow of data across departments.
2. Use a centralized data management solution
As your IT partner, we’ll set up a cloud-based repository of information where everyone in your practice draws and stores data. Not only will this prevent silos from forming, but it will also promote inter-practice communication and collaboration. For example, if your practice is low on dental supplies, anyone from the dentist to the inventory manager to the purchasing officer will be informed and initiate the discussion of restocking supplies.
By centralizing your data, we can make company data more accessible to authorized staff members. We’ll configure your data management solution so that you can set role-based permissions and review data audit trails. Role-based permissions prevent sensitive info from being accessed and compromised by users who don’t need it to do their jobs. Audit trails, on the other hand, can help you track and reverse erroneous changes to data to ensure its integrity.
3. Build a culture of information sharing and collaboration
Even within small practices, teams or individuals can see themselves as operating separately from everyone else. They find no value in sharing information with others, and this also contributes to the creation of data silos. However, you can avoid this by integrating information sharing and collaboration into your organizational processes.
You can begin by reporting the count of new client signups as part of a quarterly performance report. You may also want to create open channels where practitioners can consult their colleagues on unique or difficult cases. Doing all of these prevents people from keeping to themselves information that’s useful to colleagues and can improve the practice’s overall quality of service. In time, everyone will see how detrimental information silos are to the practice and therefore work actively to promote and maintain a culture of information sharing and collaboration.
If you need help creating this type of culture, then consult with our IT specialists at Pact-One. We can help you pick the collaboration apps and build data-sharing systems that make serving dental patients as easy and as rewarding as it can be.
To get rid of data silos and promote the efficient flow of information across your dental practice, turn to Pact-One. To learn more, contact us today.