Describing practice management (PM) software as “state-of-the-art” is common. What’s not so common is using it to its full potential.
Any substantial technology can easily lure you into a usage “rut.” The best PM software packages include companies like (ACE Dental, Dentimax, Dentrix, Eaglesoft, Open Dental, Denticon, etc.) contain a myriad of features some of which are core functionalities (scheduling, appointment tracking, insurance claim management, paperless record keeping, secure cloud-based storage and access, patient communication, etc.) that “boot up” automatically the first time you use the software. Those capabilities may be so superior to what you had before that exploration of valuable additional features may fall by the wayside. Here’s how to get out of that rut.
What’s your dental practice management software investment worth?
A technology investment has a tangible value and an application value.
The tangible value includes the full set of software’s capabilities and the training necessary to implement them. The higher the learning curve the greater the cost in terms of getting yourself and your team up to speed.
The total application value is the total potential functional value that can be achieved by activating all features of the PM software. This is where the software’s ROI (Return on Investment) is determined. Today’s practice management software is essentially designed to deliver on only a handful of core features. Activating remaining features can substantially increase the ROI on your PM software investment.
Stimulate profitability by introducing PM software processes that close gaps in efficiency and effectiveness.
- Make routine tasks easier
- Obtain new and better actionable insights.
- Increase your profits
- Improve patient satisfaction
But how can your practice management software help to maximize patient satisfaction and improve practice policies and procedures?
Optimizing systems that support practice work-flow and better staff and patient relationships is a journey… not a destination
Every practice has a different vision and set of policies and procedures that are employed. Leveraging to the limit your PM software to support the vision, policies, and procedures can bring great value.
Additionally, no one patient is identical to another in terms of their oral health and/or their emotional reasons for choosing and accepting treatment. That emotional connection is why it’s essential to see each patient relationship as a unique “journey” involving them and your dental practice.
To better support practice systems, including the patient journey, a careful review should be conducted to try to pin-point areas where your PM software could provide value. Consider areas such as:
- Marketing for patient acquisition
- Gathering and organizing new patient information
- Appointment reminder notifications
- Scheduling, treatment planning, charting, and note taking
- Billing and management of accounts receivable
- Insurance claims submission
- Note taking ability
- Built in voice dictation
- Anything that can further automate practice workflows.
- Etc, etc.
Look outside the limitations of your core PM software.
No single Dental Practice Management software system has all the best-of-class features. That is why I recommend a three step approach to optimizing the efficiency and effectiveness of your PM software:
- Make a list of areas of software functionalities that you are not satisfied with. These would be those that are obvious, where the pain or lacking clearly stands out. If you can’t think of anything don’t stop here. Go to point #2.
- Review, or have a trusted team member review the full set capabilities of your current core dental PM software system that are not currently enabled for your practice. The review may very well yield some great insights on what you might want to enable. Most practices “fall asleep” soon after they install their software, and do not keep up with the features that may have been introduced in updates, let alone enabling the original set of features.
- Look for best in class 3rd party dental software built by other companies (like Yapi – Patient communication manager, Apteryx – imaging software, Lighthouse 360 – email and text appointment reminders, Nierman DentalWriter – Medical billing, etc.) that:
- Add a feature to your software that does not even exist in your core dental PM software
- Replaces a less functional feature of your current core dental software altogether.
- Augments or extends an existing feature of your current core dental software.
- Replaces an existing 3rd party add-on that you have installed but has failed to provide the functionality you expected, or has been surpassed by a competitor.
I have found that one of the best ways to search out new possibilities is to simply peruse the dental journals online or in hard copy, such as Dental Products Report, Dentistry Today, Dental Economics, Dentaltown, Dental Product Shopper, ADA News, etc., and look for existing or new companies that advertise 3rd party dental practice management software modules. Check out the companies you are interested and search for dentist reviews, etc.
Additionally, searching online for specific modules that you might be interested in using keywords like “dental patient appointment reminders”, “dental insurance claims submission software”, “dental accounts receivable software”, etc., might be helpful.
Stay aware of the possibilities
If you are running a busy practice, you need all the help you can get to be successful, particularly if you are solo with so many high level priorities including rendering clinical care, administrative responsibilities, leadership, financial oversight, marketing/ new patient acquisition, and the list goes on. An ongoing exploration aimed at augmenting your dental practice management software capabilities can positively affect every one of these factors. So many of us “don’t have the time” for such an awareness despite the clear potential advantages of doing so. Consider being “not normal” and keeping your eyes open in the area of dental PM software. I strongly believe that you will reap substantial benefits.
Pat Cassidy – Net32 Inc.
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Last modified: March 16, 2020