Nowadays, dentists are forced to balance between providing the best patient care and staying profitable and efficient. Recent changes in the dental industry and patient expectations have created a competitive market and introduced new challenges dentists never had to deal with in the past.
Let’s face it. What was acceptable ten years ago is no longer tolerated by patients. Long gone are the days when patients accepted average level of service. Long gone are the days when dentists were booked weeks in advance. Our market research indicated that not only patients demand excellent dental care, they demand a modern and efficient dental office, more eye contact, hassle free environment, zero wait time, automatic email reminder, web access to their billing information, and reasonable prices.
The huge increase in new dental offices has ignited stiff competition among dentists. According to the Canadian Dental Association (CDA), the number of new dental offices in Ontario alone is more than 300 per year. Dentists are forced to become creative in ways to retain patients and acquire new ones. Some offer low prices and special promotions, some offer late and weekend hours. Those tactics could support a dentist for a bit but they are not the permanent solution. The solution to a satisfied customer and at the same time maintaining profitability is the dental practice management software, we will call it the software going forward.
One of the most important features in a good software is its ease of use. If you are still using a desktop software that was built in 1990s most likely your software is hard to navigate through, sluggish, requires updates once in a while, requires daily or weekly data back-up, and requires constant expensive maintenance. Your staff will spend more time babysitting the software rather than building relationships with your patients.
Another must have feature in your software is the ability to have access to your data on any device whether it is a PC, MAC, tablet, or cell phone. This way you are always connected with your staff regardless of your location.
Your software should provide you the ability to track your finances and costs through a built-in dashboard and reporting tool. It is extremely risky to operate on intuition, use dashboards to track key performance indicators in your business for better business decisions. Your dashboard should be able to provide a comprehensive view of your business with the ability to drill down for more thorough details. Find out how many appointments you completed, how much was the wait time, how many referrals, how much are your receivables etc.? To minimize embezzlement, find out if your software keeps an audit of all transactions that happen in your office: when a transaction was made and by whom.
Your software should also be able to support your business growth. The trend nowadays in the dental industry is Dental Practice Management Companies (DPMCs) or corporate dentistry. The software should allow you to add as many new locations as your business demands with all locations sharing the same patient data and being managed under one account. Imagine having the same practice management software running on all of your locations. How effective and efficient will your staff and business become? How easy is it for your patients to choose among your locations? How much time and money can you save on application setup, maintenance, and training?
Our survey of dentists and patients lead us to believe that a dental software that is missing those features could mean the difference between success and failure. The software should provide dentists the competitive advantage they really need to survive. It is time for dentists to demand more from their software providers. It is time for software providers to really understand the new reality in the dental industry. Software providers need to invest time and money to design a software that helps dentists stay profitable and not just patch up the existing fossil.
1. Population to Dentist Ratios Canadian Provinces 1997-2013 Trend. Canadian Dental Association. [Online] https://www.cda-adc.ca/en/services/fact_sheets/dentist_pop_ratios.asp.
2. Ontario Patients: Information Wanted and Contact Preferences. Abate, Rose. 9, November 2015, Ontario Dentist, Vol. 92, pp. 14-15.
About the Author
Feda Bashbishi is the CEO and co-founder of iKlyk Inc., a Canadian Cloud-based dental software provider dedicated to raising the bar of quality in dental practice management software, patient privacy, and data security. Feda Bashbishi holds an MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University as well as a Master of Science in Software Development from San Jose State University in California. Prior to establishing iKlyk, for years, Feda has worked on enterprise level cloud-based applications.
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