The pandemic has made recruiting dental assistants and hygienists harder than ever. In fact, 80% of hiring dentists say it's difficult to find assistants and hygienists right now.
But there is hope.
Dentists are an inherently resourceful group of professionals (how else could you have made it through dental school? ), and some practice owners are finding ways to reduce the stress of today's hiring crisis by using artificial intelligence.
In this article, we examine how artificial intelligence works and how it can reduce stress and turmoil associated with the hiring crisis.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning
AI uses machines (primarily computers) to simulate human intelligence processes such as learning, reasoning, and self-correction.
For example, speech recognition, expert systems, and machine vision are all typical AI applications.
Machine learning is an integral part of any discussion of AI today. While artificial intelligence and machine learning aren’t one and the same, they go hand in hand, with machine learning being an AI-based application.
Through machine learning, systems can learn and improve from experience without the need to be specifically programmed. The primary focus of machine learning is to help computers access data then use it to learn without the need for human intervention.
Moreover, machine learning keeps a computer’s built-in algorithms updated so that machines can make predictions based on chosen data.
Another significant, game-changing advantage with machine learning is its ability to sift through enormous masses of information. That data is then applied to any number of areas, from investing and fraud detection all the way to various dental practice functions.
How Can AI Help Curb Stress Related to Dental Hiring?
At this point, you’re probably entirely aware of the pitfalls of being understaffed. People end up working longer hours, burning out, and bringing that stress everywhere they go, including their home and other aspects of their personal lives.
In these understaffed scenarios, employees end up doing jobs they weren’t hired to do and taking shifts they usually wouldn’t work. All of this amounts to diminished job satisfaction and hampered performance.
So, how can AI and machine learning help to curb this issue?
Obviously, artificial intelligence cannot perform the duties of a dental assistant or hygienist (in fact, dental professionals are among the least likely to ever be replaced by machines.) What it can do is help relieve the stress of being understaffed by saving time, improving patient care, and streamlining the hiring process.
Here's how it might look in your dental practice:
1. Focus More on Patient Care
The inability to find office staff means many administrative tasks begin to pile up. But someone has to do them. So, dentists and hygienists get stuck with more business-related work that takes time away from patient care.
As much as you’re willing to step up in times of crisis, dentists and hygienists get into the industry specifically to provide care, not to be administrators. And doing work you don’t enjoy is a one-way ticket to stress and misery.
Fortunately, there are AI tools out there that automate administrative processes. Even if you can’t find office staff, these tasks will be streamlined and made hassle-free, so you won’t be taken away from patients.
MCC Health, for example, is an electronic recordkeeping solution that streamlines the administration of EPA Amalgam Separator compliance. It is already being used effectively by hundreds of dentists in the United States ‒ and best of all, MMC Health is free to use.
Here’s a list of other functions you can expect dental software solutions to perform:
- Setting daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly goals
- Automating a tasks list for each practice employee
- Regularly issuing goal progress reports
Dentist-specific AI also knows best practices from other dental businesses. Plus, it holds onto your practice’s data. From there, it’s possible to set attainable goals without needing to waste much time discussing these issues during meetings.
2. Follow Up With Patients
Without enough staff working at your practice, connecting with patients to schedule appointments becomes a struggle. Once again, a task often performed by office staff falls into the lap of dentists and hygienists who should be focusing on care.
Fortunately, AI-powered chatbots can connect with patients in the absence of a human employee.
Specifically, the right tool will help find new patients or pinpoint new treatments for current patients. Better yet, it won’t overlap your appointment reminder or birthday reminder programs. Instead, the AI will interact with those systems in perfect harmony.
3. Improve the Hiring Process
A recent article from Forbes explains how AI provides the following benefits to the hiring process, helping you find talent to fill the gaps created by the crisis:
- Saves time with automated interview confirmation emails
- Uses algorithm-based screening to find suitable candidates
- Removes unconscious biases so you hire better and faster
- Searches for the best candidates on various platforms by scanning for crucial keywords without you lifting a finger
A Solution For Understaffed Dental Practices
Being understaffed isn’t ideal for any business, dental practices included. However, we’ve never been more equipped to rise to the occasion. Today’s technologies make it possible to both thrive and survive in the face of a hiring crisis.