Joseph Dowdy

Choosing Your First Practice Management Solution


Longtime dental practice owners often find themselves asking what they would do differently if they were to open a new practice tomorrow. How could they use their years of experience to put their practice on the right path from the start? The answer, in part, is to set up the practice-management software to empower the office to focus on the patient and dentistry first.

In the not-too-distant past, practice-management software was essentially a fancy calendar and filing system. And for many practices, that’s where software utilization stopped. In reality, today’s best software systems are powerful tools that integrate clinical and front-office functions into a seamless workflow. Selecting the right first software will not only save time, energy and expense, but will actively create new opportunities for improved patient care and practice profitability.

As the central nervous system of your practice, your first software has to be able to communicate with all the different technological aspects of what you do—from charting to marketing. Anything less forces you (or a team member) to do more work manually, inputting data or running analysis through multiple systems instead of one. Here are three features to look for and the questions to ask when considering your first software system:

Power and Flexibility

It’s important that your system provides the features you need and can adapt to your workflow and grow with your practice. Historically, one of the biggest complaints about practice-management software was that it forced practice administrators—and entire practices—to shift their workflow to meet the requirements of the software.

Today, systems such as Eaglesoft 18 from Patterson Dental allow you to customize the software to match your workflow. This is a crucial feature and one that is well worth the investment in a premium system.

Support and Partnership

Just as you want a software system that can change and adapt with your needs, you also need a system that is backed by people who are focused on staying ahead of—and delivering solutions for—the rapid changes shaping modern dental practices.

From technological advancements to government regulations and insurance restrictions, the demands on a dental practice sometimes seem to change on a daily basis. Partnering with a technology provider that’s focused on predicting and solving these problems for you means you can focus on what matters—serving your patients and running a profitable practice. It’s difficult to put a price on the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have a dedicated support team working to keep you ahead of the changes. The best technology providers continuously research and upgrade their systems to address changing needs, and they consistently deliver innovative solutions that give you new ways to serve your patients and measure and manage your business.

Ease of Use

This is a no-brainer. Your practice-management system is the heart of your practice that will be used in different ways by all team members. You want it to be powerful, flexible and, above all, easy to use.

But sometimes, achieving seamless simplicity is complicated.

The best systems are built by companies that actively innovate and don’t rely on patching together third-party solutions. These systems are built on a foundation of intuitive design and simple integration. They make it easy to follow the patient’s progress from initial contact through post-visit follow-up and pre-scheduling. They seamlessly integrate with clinical tools like digital radiography. They provide anytime/anywhere access to the information you need. They provide a single-patient record that can be accessed and updated by each staff member according to his or her specific role. They are simple for a new hire to learn, and they provide clear paths and resources to improve team members’ utilization of advanced features.

This may be the single most important consideration in your decision, because the most powerful tools are worthless if you don’t use them to their fullest ability. And if they are difficult to use, you will not use them. Never choose a practice management system without a thorough live demonstration of the software and never take a live demo when you and your staff are distracted by other things. This is an important decision—and one that deserves your team’s full attention.