Although some business brands rely on versatility, there are specific benefits to providing specialized expertise to a job that can't be matched by others outside the field, and especially so with Dental IT Support. It's true in marketing, or architecture and engineering fields because the people who work in those services use different software and hardware than someone in the medical field. Likewise, someone familiar with the medical field may not be knowledgeable about common means and methods used by banking industry professionals.
Yes, most office professionals are capable of learning new software quickly. They understand what the job requires and how the tools work so that they can adapt to new situations rather quickly. The real question is, “How much on the job training should you provide?” A talented new employee is a long term investment and deserves a learning curve to acclimate your processes, and a Managed Services Provider (MSP) is also a long term investment but one with which you have higher expectations from the start. These concepts are especially true regarding dental IT support, as the profession requires knowledge of specific hardware, software, and equipment specific to the field. Recently, I discussed the topic with Dan De Sterno of NOVA Computer Solutions and Michelle Hambidge of the Dental Integrators Association.
Why Use a Specialist for Dental IT Support
Speaking regarding equipment specific to the field, the talents of an IT person allows them to read instructions as needed and install hardware with appropriate cables and wiring which meets building, safety, and fire codes along with allowing the system to start working. The IT person also installs software specific to the trade in which it will be used. Only someone experienced with how dental professionals will use the software is going to be able to set it up for someone using it for dentistry work. A podiatrist might use the same software, but they use it differently and require different initial settings because they use it for different things.
Vertical Based MSP Providers for Dental IT Support
There are many great IT providers and consultants capable of setting up a functional system suitable for any number of fields. They do a great job and should never be overlooked for any project. However, someone who understands the needs of your specific field should never be overlooked as particularly suitable towards filling your needs by understanding how to install software and hardware according to how you intend to use it.
Michelle Hambidge pointed out that, “The majority of our members have the majority of their work coming from the dental field, the dental sector of it, “ in response to a question about vertical specialization. What this means is that by conducting the bulk of their work in dental offices, the members of the Dental Integrators Association understand the specific needs of the dental field and the problems faced by workers in the industry. They realize what solution actually work toward improvement of office efficiency, and sometimes what can be just as important, what solutions have been tried but did not work well in the long term.
Cooperation versus Competition
Another aspect of vertical specialization is how people come to know who else works in the field and what types of projects they may be exceptionally well suited for. This allows an ability to make references when a job is outside of what you do by recommending someone you know and trust. Rather than having to work in a highly competitive environment like some industries are known for, working together instead of against each other can be advantageous to all parties. DIA is known for their philosophy of telling members, “It's not what we do for you, but what you do for each other.”
It comes down to common sense and working toward long term goals instead of the immediate. When your company is good at one aspect of the job and capable of doing a different task toward completing the project while another company is exceptionally well suited for the second task, it gives an excellent image to the client to let someone else do that second task more efficiently than your company can. In turn, they can recommend your company at a different job for what you specialize in. Each company looks professional, has more clients with continued job opportunities, and you can focus on your specialties instead of trying to do everything including aspects of dental IT support you may not have as much experience with.
What It Means to Specialize
The fact is, nobody knows everything about everything. As a dental It support provider, you're expected to have an understanding of what types of hardware and software are used in a dental office, but you might not have as much experience with certain specific equipment or programs proprietary to particular manufacturers. There is nothing wrong with that; it doesn't imply one service provider is “better” than another, it merely points out how different people have had different experiences. Think of it regarding how you hire a dentistry IT specialist instead of an engineering IT person for the same reason you wouldn't go to a home improvement warehouse store to buy groceries. However, you might also use different dental IT support personnel for various projects just like you would go to different grocery stores depending on whether you are stocking up on dry goods for your pantry or buying a fresh cut of meat to serve guests at a dinner party. Neither option is better or worse; you know one store is better than the other for different reasons according to your need at the time.
Speaking of specific manufacturers, it's important to note how manufacturers don't have industry expertise that someone who specializes in the field of dentistry IT support is likely to have. The manufacturer understands what their equipment and software are capable of doing and why it serves an essential use in a dental office, but they don't typically understand how a dentist might use the gear differently than, perhaps, an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor. Whether using software for billing, filing, or showing imagery to a patient of what work they need to be performed, the company needs of the software is going to be specific to what works best in each field.
Examples: How Dental Integrator Association and NOVA Computer Solutions Provide Dental IT Support
NOVA Computer Solutions and the Dental Integrators Association are a great example of how these concepts work in real time. NOVA is a company which provides IT support solely for the dental industry, DIA is a group of IT companies who all specialize in dental office practices. DIA gives their members a credibility of having a proven success rate in dental IT support because that's what they do individually rather than “all” kinds of IT work for any office type. NOVA provides dental IT support to small and mid-sized companies in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. If NOVA receives a job offer from a company outside of the area they're comfortable working in; they can turn down the job with a recommendation through the DIA toward another well-qualified company.
It goes a long way toward a company's reputation to say, “That's outside of what we do, but...” followed by a recommendation. The dentists who work in that office, and their employees, will remember how professionally you handled the situation and likely tell their friends about your company who have offices in your area. Likewise, in the above scenario, DIA received recognition which might lead to a recommendation for NOVA in the future. It's a situation in which everyone wins by taking the available opportunity and making the best of it, even if there isn't a direct and immediate personal benefit from each situation.
The bottom line is that as hardware and software options continue to grow and become more and more specialized, IT support personnel are also finding the need to choose an industry to specialize in. There is enough work out there that you don't have to “do everything” to make a living. As more and more industries realize their needs are different than other offices, they are looking for people who understand their specific needs. It's better to do one thing well than a dozen tasks at average ability.
Although these concepts apply across the board to most industries, it is especially true in medical fields, including dentistry. Dentists have always been understood to be specialist doctors, the equipment they use is also specialized. As such, it only makes sense that their employees have to specialize in the field as do their outside consultants and contractors. Dental IT support presents its problems and solutions which are best served by a provider familiar with what those needs are.