Laying the digital foundation

March 21, 2012
Noah Levine
Issue 3

The search for a practice management software application that fits your practice’s needs can be a tricky endeavor. With a wide range of options ready to handle your scheduling, billing, patient records and more, it’s important to make the right choice because this will be the central hub for all of your practice’s information.

The search for a practice management software application that fits your practice’s needs can be a tricky endeavor. With a wide range of options ready to handle your scheduling, billing, patient records and more, it’s important to make the right choice because this will be the central hub for all of your practice’s information.

While the task may seem daunting, the search is as much about your vision for your practice as it is about the software’s capabilities, said Laci Phillips, a practice management consultant with Banta Consulting Group. Phillips recently spoke with Dental Products Report to share some of the advice she provides practices seeking practice management software.

Q: What role is practice management software going to play in a practice being put together from square one?
A: Other than the literal foundation of the practice, the practice management software is the foundation because that is going to basically run your practice. You make all of your appointments, you’re going to take all your patient information, insurance information, financials for your patients, all of your patients’ clinical information as well as running your reports to find out how your office is doing, by looking at the numbers and breaking everything down.

Q: Where do you recommend a new practice start when looking for the best software for the specific needs of the practice?
A: It really depends on the type of practice they intend on having. I think you have to look at the big picture here. It’s not just what are we going to do this year, but where do we hope to be in five or even 10 years from now. The nice thing about almost every single practice management software on the market is you can start with a small piece and build up to it.

Q: Does the practice need to know its plans for adding other technologies when choosing a practice management software application?
A: I think you do have to take a look at the long-term goals, and where you are. You can start small and build up with most softwares, but some of them are going to work better for you.
I think most practices start out with the idea of, “This is what I can do right now, but in the future this is what I want to do,” but something gets lost along the way. That’s why I recommend that technology budget so we can take a percentage of what we do every year and dedicate it. We can say absolutely no matter what we’re going to invest in technology. If you have that budget, then you can keep up with your goals.

Q: What is the best way for a practice to see what each of the systems has to offer?
A: In my personal opinion, one of the hardest things is going out and testing all of these different softwares and really getting your fingers in there and figuring out which one is going to be the most effective for you and your team. I recommend talking to other offices. If you have referring offices or offices down the road, talk to them and see if you can go in and take a look at their software. Of course, there are great consultants out there in the dental field who are knowledgeable about all the software and they can help you in that direction as well.

Q: Does the doctor need to get the rest of the staff involved in the decision?
A: The doctor or the business owner is going to write that final check. But that being said, I can promise you that if you do not have buy-in from your team, if your team doesn’t get trained on how to use the software, if they don’t like the software, if they don’t want to use it, then it absolutely will be your worst return on investment because nobody will be using it. So, if somebody is going to write that check, they should 100% have their team involved in the decision-making process because they are the ones who are really going to be using it day in and day out.

Q: What assessments should a practice make before beginning the software search?
A: I think you should go into it asking, “What’s my ultimate goal and how do I really want to use the software?” Then make a list so you can ask whoever you talk to about software, “Here’s what I really want to accomplish. Am I going to be able to?” And then you can say, “Show me how.”

For more software selection advice from Phillips, go to dentalproductsreport.com.