In a previous article, we talked about how a fully-integrated digital dental practice may not be the right solution for you and how one of the ways in which you can improve your workflow with labs without needing to install milling facilities in your clinic is to consider communications systems or collaboration platforms. But what exactly is a collaboration software and how does it simplify the digital workflow? In this article, we will introduce the basic features of collaboration platforms and how they work.
Let’s first begin by talking about the basic workflow for digital dentistry. There are four main stages in the workflow, namely scanning, designing, manufacturing and treatment. A collaboration platform is basically the bridge between a clinic and a lab, allowing for seamless communication and workflow management at each and every stage. This enables smoother workflows, greater efficiency, and better results as the lab is involved throughout the process.
Below is an example of a typical digital workflow for cases which involve collaboration between a clinic and a lab, showing how a collaboration platform fits into the digital workflow.
From the diagram above, you might be able to guess what some of the important features of a collaboration software are, namely the ability to store digital information on patients’ cases, including scan data, share information with lab partners, and enable effective communication between clinic and lab. All these features go towards supporting patient-centered workflows. Having access to case information minimizes the risk of miscommunication, hence improving work quality and standards of patient care.
So, what are the advantages of implementing a collaboration software in your digital workflow? The two main advantages are 1) time saved 2) ease of working with labs. Gone are the days where clinics will need to prepare traditional impressions and send it to the lab so that they can work on manufacturing the prosthetics which they will then send back to the clinic. With 3D scanning, the digital data can be sent to the lab within minutes after the scanning process is completed.
By using a collaboration software, a clinic can also work with different labs on different jobs at the same time with ease, depending on the lab’s availability and expertise. This reduces the waiting time for treatment as different cases can be worked on at the same time. In addition, the high accuracy of digital impressions means that the likelihood of adjustments is highly decreased. All this contributes to time-saving, not only for the clinic and the lab but also for the patient, leading to better treatment results and improved patient experience.
The abundance of benefits may sound good to you and you are ready to dive right in, but wait! Before deciding on a collaboration platform, make sure to get a demonstration of the workflow of the software to understand the step-by-step process before deciding on one. In addition, you will need to make sure that the software you are intending to implement is compatible with your scanning and manufacturing equipment. For these reasons, you may want to consider software options which have open systems i.e. allowing the import and export of different 3D scan file types.