The 5 principles of
How to choose the best
for your practice
WITH MORE THAN 20 YEARS of dental software experience under my belt, I quickly
sketched out five principles to help guide you in your search for new software. I call them
“the five principles of software success.”
1. TAKE THE EMOTION OUT OF THE
Don’t let yourself or your team throw a wet towel
on progress. At a recent association show, I
overheard an office manager exclaim, “We’ve
been a Dentrix office for 20 years, and we’ll
always be a Dentrix office!” That kind of attitude
is not healthy. Prepare your team for change
and adjustment; like anything else in life, change
requires effort, but you’ll all enjoy the rewards.
You may need to distance your dealer sales
representative from your decision-making process—otherwise, you may only see what they
want you to see. Finally, understand that these
days, cloud-based dental software is a service
that you pay for in a small monthly subscription,
rather than by writing one very big check. And
never let price dictate your choice.
2. MINIMIZE THE RISK
When considering cloud-based dental software, the number one key factor in making a
great purchase decision is experience. Why?
Because reliability and performance are directly dependent upon the amount of cloud-development experience a company may have.
Great-looking software is of no good to you if
the software is frequently down. Ask for performance numbers, like the current uptime
for the last 90 days. If this information isn’t
already published by a software vendor, then
you have to wonder why.
4. CHOOSE A PROVEN TRACK RECORD
You can learn a lot from reviewing case studies
and reading online reviews. Don’t get stuck on
one or two negative reviews; frequently, such
reviews are written in the heat of the moment
and do not accurately reflect how a person
really feels. Look at the reviews as a whole.
Ask for key performance numbers. For example, how quickly will a company be able to
take your call when you need technical assistance? Can your team afford to wait 20 to
25 minutes for help? In my opinion, if a company is unwilling to publish its performance
numbers, that’s a clear signal it’s not proud of
the service it provides.
5. CHOOSE THE SOFTWARE THAT
MAKES YOUR LIFE EASIER
For starters, choosing a cloud-based application will make your life easier. You’ll never again
worry about data backup or hassle with upgrades. You’ll save money on hardware and
have access to your patient information from
work, home, or play.
Take time to talk to current customers to
get a feel for a company’s personality. Is it responsive and is it enjoyable to work with?
Spend a bit of time on the company’s blog and
website. A quick Google search will also reveal
if there is any current or historical litigation,
HIPAA violations, or data breaches.
Finally, clearly understand if you will have
access to technical support after hours, on
holidays, or on weekends. Whatever vendor
you choose, you must have access to technical
support when you need it, rather than when
the software company thinks you need it.
The great dental migration to the cloud
continues. When you make the switch, make
sure you choose software that’s right for your
ANDY JENSEN is vice
president and CMO at Curve
Dental Inc., a software
development company that
management solutions for
dentists and dental groups. You
can read more at curvedental.
Evidence of best business practices is also
key. Curve Dental, for example, provides every
new customer with a detailed map of how the
practice will get from old to new, with every
step carefully documented with dates and
3. MAKE COMPARISONS AND
Take advantage of published buyer’s guides
and independent studies. For example, Gordon
J. Christensen’s Clinicians Report frequently
publishes reviews based on surveys of actual
customers of a particular product. If possible,
do a side-by-side comparison of two applications at the same time.
Be prepared to make compromises. The
way you post adjustments doesn’t make it the
right way or even a better way. New software
will present different ways to accomplish the
same task. Sometimes the change is good,
sometimes not so good, and sometimes it just
won’t matter. Just remember to stay logical
and keep the emotion at bay.
Although you may need to compromise on
features, you should not compromise on platform. Moving from old client-server software
to different old client-server software is not a
progressive decision but a lateral decision. You
want to move your practice forward, taking
advantage of the current technology platform,
which is the cloud.