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Is stress an inevitable part of practicing dentistry?

Dentists and other professionals are facing increasing demands on their time and energy. Apart from federal programs, dentists have to grapple with complex legislation such as HIPAA and I-STOP. In addition, many practices are struggling with financial problems in the face of an economic recession and dwindling claim payments from insurance companies.


Faced with the daunting task of implementing complex projects – electronic dental records and dental software, digitization of paper records, ICD-10 upgrade etc – practically all dental professionals are battling severe stress and fatigue every day. Dentists in private practices are affected to a greater extent as they are wholly responsible for project implementation unlike those who work in hospitals where such tasks are typically handled by IT departments. Quite unsurprisingly, studies indicate that more doctors in private practice are willing to shift to hospitals than vice versa.


Stress and inability to maintain a healthy work-life balance are two problems frequently cited by dental professionals. Physical stamina has always been a requirement for practicing medicine but the mental stress placed on doctors today may be unrivaled in recent history. Most dentists work late hours and weekends in order to catch up with all the paperwork required to manage a private practice in a tough economic environment.


Though many practices are seeing fewer patients, doctors spend more time in documentation than ever before due to the drop in productivity occasioned by the transition from paper files to digital networks. The role of documentation itself has changed dramatically. Far from being a resource to consult between medical colleagues, clinical notes now serve as the basis for claim payments, business and legal records as well as evidence for regulatory compliance. Creating notes that satisfy all the requirements of various stakeholders puts tremendous pressure on providers, in addition to the time taken in composing them.


With paper records, doctors were able to have a semblance of separation between their work and home life. Since digital records are now accessible from any device, doctors practice medicine round-the-clock even when they are on vacation or at home. Additionally, dental professionals face higher expectations from their patients and more patients are going to court over negative health outcomes, even if it was not the doctors fault.


In the midst of such overwhelming challenges, having the right tool such as Dovetail can be an incredible help. Imagine an electronic system so easy to use that you no longer have to fight it to do your work. Dovetail dental software enables you to accomplish more in less time so that you can practice medicine, not stress.