Even a casual observer can recognize how much work goes into managing a dental practice. Between patient records, follow-up appointments, treatment plans, and the business of doing business, it is a feat to keep track of everything. It’s also not much surprise that there are dozens of management software options available. But which is right for your practice? Here are some tips to help you get started.
Know Your Options
There are typically three types of practice management software:
Native: these are custom-built platforms that operate to your practice’s exact specifications. You have complete control over the platform and its inputs. These are typically more expensive, but you get exactly what you want.
OS-dependent: these work for specific devices and operating systems (for instance, Mac or Windows). These are a one-time purchase, but you may need to pay for regular maintenance and ongoing support services.
Cloud-based: this is the newest technology, allowing dentists to access the software anywhere and upload patient information. Data is housed on the vendor’s servers and can be accessed from any computer.
Decide which type of software is right for your needs and then explore options in that category.
Get to Know the Features You Need
Most dental practice management software has some combination of these features:
Patient Portal: enables patients to upload personal information, access records, and even upload images and X-rays from home.
Billing and Insurance: your practice can maximize revenue by using coding support, making billing faster and more efficient.
Scheduling: one of the most important features. Allows you to coordinate patient, hygienist, and dentist schedules.
Dental Imaging: allows the practice to import and view X-rays and other procedural imaging. Higher-end software include tools for measuring a tooth and identifying areas of interest.
Dentistry-specific Templates: some solutions will provide templates for all common procedures, including routine exams, fillings, root canals, etc.
Graphical Tooth Charting: provides a basic graphical image of each tooth and gum, enabling dentists to easily point out problem areas and record needed procedures.
These are all fairly standard features, but you should look for a solution that emphasizes the elements you need most.
Test Drive with Free Trials
The best way to get to know a product is to test it out. Most of the top dental practice software solutions allow you to demo their product with a free trial. Take each one for a spin, see what you like and don’t, what you can live with and what you can’t, and make a decision informed by experience.
When you buy anything on Amazon, you can see at a glance what other people thought of that product. Do your homework, research and compare what other people are saying, and trust the experts. There are great comparison articles like this one that can help you look at multiple solutions at once.
Put in the Time to Master the Solution
Once you’ve chosen a solution (after doing extensive research), take the time to master the product. Watch webinars, call the support number or read FAQs when you have a question, and see if you can get a dedicated customer success agent from the vendor. User error accounts for a lot more dissatisfaction than we like to admit; conduct practice-wide trainings and build a culture of positivity around your solution. It’s there to make life easier for you, but you can make life easy on yourself by putting in the time to get familiar with your solution.
We can’t tell you what solution is best for you, but we can say that having a dental practice management software is a must in this day and age. Take the time to pick a winner, and you and your patients will be much happier.