Like many industries, the dental profession has been transformed by the digital revolution. Technology has moved from a small but important part of your practice to center stage. Technological change is happening faster than ever before, and consumers expect your practice to offer the same convenience and value they get from other services.
So how do you choose the right software to run your business? It seems impossible — the software has to manage patient records including integrated imaging, keep track of referrals, provide online access for patients, maintain accounting records, send invoices, track collections and more — all while meeting ever-increasing government regulations and HIPAA reporting rules.
Step by Step
Choosing the right system may seem overwhelming at first, but there are steps you can take to minimize risk. First, select the software that can manage your practice now and easily expand as you grow. Next, get the best price from the vendor of your chosen software package —make sure you have a strong support agreement in place. Finally, plan out the installation schedule and make sure your vendor is closely involved.
You want a vendor that has a good reputation for support. Work with them by describing critical software features your practice needs, as well as secondary items you’d like to include if the budget allows. Perhaps electronic prescribing takes precedence over something like extended reporting capabilities. It just depends on your needs and preferences.
Grow With You
Ask about the technology behind the software. Is it a proprietary system that no one but them can service? Will it be able to grow with you as you gain more patients over time? And finally, what support and training do they offer? You’ll never feel lonelier than the day your staff can’t figure out the system because they haven’t been trained, and the vendor suddenly doesn’t answer your support calls.
After evaluating your options, set up vendor demonstrations. But don’t let verbose vendor sales teams take over the process. Stay focused on making sure their product meets your needs. You want a vendor that communicates well, asks proper questions, and is interested in a long-term partnership. If they are long on promises and vague claims yet short on specifics and follow-up, beware.
If all this sounds daunting, don’t worry. You can manage the process yourself or bring in qualified consultants to run the show. Either way, remember that you and your staff must live with the software for years to come, so it makes sense to make a careful choice.