Question & Answer with Mortenson Family Dental’s Director of Information Technology

Chris Grimm, Dir., IT

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Recently, Group Dentistry Now talked with Chris Grimm, Director of IT of Mortenson Family Dental, and asked him some questions regarding future technologies and what to expect at the upcoming Scaling Up event in November.

GDN: What do you think is the most exciting thing about IT for DSOs?
CG:  The status of IT as business partner with other departments such as accounting, marketing etc is very exciting. IT is now much more than just phones and connectivity and desktop computers. We are building tools and partnering with department leaders to help reengineer business processes and improve productivity of back office processes. This allows us to actually have a hand in the patient experience and create a more fulfilling experience for our associates and our patients.

GDN: What does the future of technology look like for DSOS?
CG: Over the next few years we will see much more back office automation as groups get larger and larger and need more internal support. This will create more security compliance needs as information becomes more readily accessible across the internet. There will also be higher utilization of cloud services for office productivity tools (G Suite, Office 365, and, as well as a a few new clinical tools, which include vibration tools to help with injection phobias, decreased radiation imaging with digital x-rays, diode lasers, enhanced CAD/CAM utilization, as well as 3d printing.

GDN: What are some unique ways Mortenson Dental Partners has integrated different technologies?
CG: Our largest integration of different technologies would be centered mostly around our BI and practice analytics. By integrating data feeds from vendors, insurance payors, banks, accounting software, and practice management software, we have created many unique and powerful tools that help us to be more efficient in the back office and allows our ‘front desk’ team members to spend more time with our patients, and less time performing administrative office tasks.

GDN: What advice do you have for other DSOs as they begin to plan and set up different aspects of technology?
CG: Two things really: 1.) Don’t be afraid of change. DSOs are still in their infancy and there will be lots of changes coming in the near future that will benefit both the DSO and the patient. 2.) Utilize experts from outside of the dental industry. Some of the best ideas we’ve had for technology integrations have come from discussions with experts outside the industry.

GDN: What is your favorite technology and why?
CG: I think CAD/Cam AND 3D printing have an interesting place in the future of dentistry. It’s amazing how detailed the images can be now and how much more of an intimate look the provider can get versus traditional x-rays and visual inspection. Also, more DSO specific, the use of SD-WAN to create wide area networks enables smaller DSOs to have direct access to all of their offices from the central office for much less up-front costs than traditional WAN. This will open up the doors for more offices to create central call centers and use technology such as VoIP (Voice over IP or ‘cloud’ phones.)

GDN: What will be covered in the technology session of Scaling Up?
CG: This year we have several interesting speakers covering the necessary infrastructure changes that Mortenson had to make as we grew from 1 to 140 offices, including moving to VoIP phones, SD-WAN, and transitioning to G Suite. We also will discuss the latest back office automation tools that we have developed for improved efficiency in claims processing and payment posting, and a discussion on the effects of not having a comprehensive IT due diligence process as you being acquiring practices.

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