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    6 ways to evaluate dental group software

    The top six things to keep in mind when considering new practice management software.

    We are in the midst of a dental group software revolution. Whether your interests lie in increasing cash flow, maximizing workflow efficiency, handling multiple locations, improving patient care, growing your referral business, becoming more competitive in the marketplace or simply increasing the value of your group, “next-generation” dental software—and specifically dental electronic health records—will help you get there.

    New technologies are giving some groups a distinct edge and you can either keep your head in the sand as the industry passes you by or benefit by the revolution in dental group software.

    However, as the dental industry moves into a new era of more sophisticated dental software, dental groups are becoming increasingly confused in terms of which way to go, especially in the evaluation and selection of these new technologies.

    Trending article: How to negotiate your EHR deal

    Evaluate your short- and long-term needs

    When I work with a group and assist in evaluating dental software vendors, the first thing I do is have the selection team members prioritize features that are important. A good way to look at this is to think about features that are truly deal breakers and those that are nice to have but not necessarily critical to the use of the system. An example of a deal breaker might be the ability to display a patient’s medical conditions, or to proactively alert the clinical and administrative staffs when a patient is due for a follow-up procedure, whereas it might just be nice to have a web patient portal.

    The prioritization of features is especially important when comparing different vendors regarding specific functions. With a particular software application, you might not get everything you need, and by prioritizing it is easier to determine if a vendor has most of what you deem to be critical. In IT lingo this is referred to as “needs analysis”.

    Take charge of your vendor demo

    Having specific features and functionality is one thing, but making sure they are easy to use, intuitive and navigable are another. This is the subjective part of the process and where most groups fall short. This is what the vendor demonstration is all about. However, make sure the vendor account reps don’t control the demonstration, showing only what they want to show you, not necessarily answering your questions and overall being in control of the process.

    Instead of spending unnecessary time seeing things that might not be critical to your decision making, wouldn't it make more sense for you to take charge and get what you need out of your demonstration? It is important to develop a number of scenarios that represent what you would normally see on a daily basis and use those as the basis of your demonstration.

    Related reading:  3 things you MUST consider before signing cloud-based software contracts

    Evaluate your vendor’s business

    Does the vendor have a track record selling to groups similar to yours in size and specialty? What amount of their revenue do they invest toward research and development, or support? And, when did the vendor you were contemplating purchasing from last have a major update or release? Profiling a vendor’s organization and sales history is something that most groups don't really think about. It is not off base to ask questions pertaining to vendor revenues, history, experience in group practice and any specialty you have, size of support and R&D staff, etc.

     When I work with clients I tend to ask probing questions regarding a vendor’s organization, including financial and revenue pictures. In terms of references, make sure that the reference groups you are given adequately reflect the profile of your group. In addition to finding out how satisfied the references are with the use and operation of the system, it is just as important to find out their experiences with the vendor regarding implementation, training, support and communication.

     

    Continue to page two for more tips...

    Mike Uretz
    Mike Uretz is a nationally-recognized Dental software and Electronic Health Records (EHR) expert. Mike has helped hundreds of individual ...

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