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Why every opinion matters when selecting practice management software


Include the entire staff in software selection to increase practice success

If you want your new practice software to actually work, then you need to get your whole staff involved.

Over 15 years of helping groups with software selection, it has been my experience that organizations that used a team approach and encouraged their staff members to be involved typically had the most success. After all, when it comes to the use of software in a dental group, all staff members will utilize the technology one way or another.

There are a number of opportunities to get everyone involved in adopting new software systems, but the initial phase of evaluation and selection is one particularly critical area. First of all, just as dentists, hygienists, dental assistants, office managers, front and back office staff contribute their part to the overall operations of an efficient dental practice, most of the staff members and various roles use the software in different ways to contribute to the overall workflow of your group.

The whole team matters

Over the years I have sat in on numerous selection meetings with staff members who have different tastes and opinions when it came to evaluating features of a software system. Some might like certain features and others different features. So, at the end of the day there might need to be a little compromise in order to get a system that works for everyone.

However, if different team members aren’t involved or able represent their interests, then there is a possibility that the system might work well for some but not others. No one person can make these decisions for everyone else.

By bringing in the team at this early stage, it at least gives them some ownership. I have actually had team members in the DSO or group come up to me at some of my seminars and workshops and tell me that initially they were resistant to change their software, but after being part of the whole process - along with the recognition that their input was the valuable - they felt a sense of ownership and were more inclined to be vested in the success of the software adoption in their group. Point is that, since everyone will be using the system, then everyone needs to feel and touch it before purchase. When I work with a DSO or group, the very first thing I do is to try to discern from each individual job function the important features staff want. Then, we use that to build from as we evaluate and select various vendors.

When I put together a vendor Request for Proposal (RFP) for a group evaluating new software, I always include sections that address the functional needs of different roles in the practice. Sections can include clinical features needed by the dentists, hygienists and dental assistant; operational and administrative features needed by the office manager, front desk and back office staff; financial and reporting features; and task management and workflow features that cross boundaries between rules of all team members.

Why should administrative staff care about clinical software?

Why should administrative folks who work with scheduling and billing even be interested in getting involved with the clinical software portion of evaluation and selection?

Clinical software and EHR’s will provide features and efficiencies on the administrative side that are now more robust compared with practice management systems.

Clinical software EHRs will offer more sophisticated claims scrubbing capabilities within the software itself. Billing codes generated chair side will have the ability to have automated scrubbing before it even leaves to go on its claims processing journey. Automated eligibility from point of care will be integrated into EHR systems. This means that the administrative staff who deal with billing should have some input on how this works from both a design and functionality standpoint.

Regarding patient appointments and scheduling side of things, there will be much more capability to automatically capture clinical information and present these in the form of alerts at the time of appointment or schedule. For example, if a patient has an overdue procedure or exam that was recommended, it can be noted during appointment scheduling. Other clinical information will find its way into this part of the process. Time recorded on the clinical side to perform certain procedures will find its way into the scheduling system incorporating analytics to recommend schedule time for various types of appointments. Since these features will be used on a daily basis by the front desk staff, they should have input into its design and functionality. Sophisticated patient web portals will allow patients to register and describe problems and issues prior to their appointments

Administrators with an integrated clinical, EHR and practice management system will have tools such as task management and reporting that will give a greater awareness of operations within the practice - which in turn allows for greater control and efficiency. If there any questions about a patient’s care, an office manager will be able to get relevant information at the push of a button, which will lead to better customer service. So, when evaluating the clinical and EHR portion of a new software system, it is critical that the administrator has input into the features, functionality and design that work to help manage the practice.

Bottom line

When it comes to your DSO or group selecting and purchasing new dental software that integrates practice management, clinical processes and EHR, you can choose to either have a few individuals lead the way or engage with the needs of everyone who will use the software. From my experience, I would say a true team approach to making a decision increases the chances that a correct decision will be made and your staff will embrace the adoption of the new software.

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