Beyond Hardware: 6 Questions to Help You Choose the Right Dental Imaging Solution
A guest blog by Danielle Heberle CVT, VTSH-Dentistry, Manager of Clinical Services, Midmark Animal Health
After careful consideration, you and your team decided digital radiography is the technology you want to use in your hospital. You’ve done your homework, talking to several manufacturers about their solutions, evaluating image quality and hardware. However, it can be even more important to discuss what happens after the sale—because that will make a difference in product adoption. Here are some questions to ask when selecting the right digital dental sensor and software for your team:
1. Is the solution designed to support clinical workflow?
There are many software solutions on the market, but not all of them are designed by manufacturers who understand veterinary clinical workflows. Decide what’s important to your hospital and make sure the software supports it. For example, how much do you want to engage with the software? When your patients are under anesthesia, you want to keep your focus on the patient, not the computer.
Also consider the way your team works. Do you want to view images on multiple workstations throughout your hospital? If so, find a solution with unlimited seat licenses and network capabilities. This gives your team greater flexibility when accessing images, whether viewing them in staff work areas or educating clients in exam rooms.
2. How user-friendly is the software?
Complex user interfaces frustrate staff, leading them to underutilize the best software features. Before you make a purchase, request a demonstration of the software. Pay close attention to how easy it is to enter a new patient and acquire images. Is the solution versatile enough to capture full-mouth templates as well as single post-operative radiographs?
3. How will my investment be supported after purchase?
Ongoing support is a key differentiator that can impact your ability to treat patients. Who do you call if you have a problem with the imaging software? Is there a charge for support? Make sure you understand warranty terms: What is covered and for how long? What do you do if something breaks? Ask if software upgrades are provided, and what that process looks like.
4. What kind of training resources are available?
As an educator, I’ve seen staff struggle with implementing new standards of care. Even the most intuitive software should be accompanied by training to ensure everyone is aligned on best-practice use.
There's no better real-world application than on-site training that allows your entire team to be educated at your clinic, with your equipment—especially when delivered by a credentialed clinical trainer. On-demand content should also be available for deeper-dive topics such as positioning and radiographic interpretation. Access to tutorials supports refresher training, onboarding staff or enhancing the diagnostic expertise of seasoned users.
5. Will the solution interface with my practice management software?
There are many variables that impact how practice management software communicates with digital dental imaging software. If this is something that is important, be sure to ask for details on your specific configuration, the manufacturer’s experience with similar integrations and any limitations between the two solutions.
6. How can we leverage the manufacturer’s expertise to create a successful dental radiography plan for our hospital?
Lean on your manufacturer’s expertise to learn how other animal hospitals are creating successful programs. They can draw from their customer base to share best-practice recommendations—it may be as simple as creating a process for image storage and backup or developing a communications plan for educating your clients on the importance of oral health care.
In addition to solution implementation, a manufacturer with an experienced clinical team can take you to the next level by helping you create new, lasting standards of care. They’ll help you establish workflows and advise on a competitive fee structure for your demographic area.
As a clinical trainer, I’m biased to the power of education, especially when it’s coupled with extensive post-sale support and best-practice guidance. Take your time, ask the right questions, and uncover the differentiators that empower your team to deliver the best possible care.
About the Author
Danielle Heberle CVT, VTS-H (Dentistry), is the clinical services manager for Midmark and leads Midmark Academy, where she oversees a network of more than fifty dental and anesthesia experts who train in over 500 veterinary hospitals each, offering a course menu totaling 100-plus hours of related continuing education. She was awarded the American Veterinary Dental College Presidential Medal for Stewardship in 2018.