Why I chose Apple technology and MacPractice for me and my staff

April 19, 2016
When I matriculated to the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Dental School in 2002, my class was one of the first dental schools to go with all-digital textbooks on a laptop.

Joshua Austin, DDS, FAGD

When I matriculated to the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Dental School in 2002, my class was one of the first dental schools to go with all-digital textbooks on a laptop.

Looking back, I guess we were at the forefront of digital learning and technology. Included in the envelope of my acceptance letter were printed flyers for both a Dell and an Apple laptop; we had to choose which we wanted to purchase. The Dell flyer looked like a photocopy of a photocopy. The Apple brochure was in full vibrant color. It was personalized with my name and read in the corner "Made on a Mac." I knew immediately which to choose as I started my learning (and career) in dentistry. Since then, I have only purchased Apple computers and have never looked back. I understand the whole Mac vs. PC choice is about culture and personal values. To me, Apple products deliver in the areas I value.

When I decided to open my dental practice in 2009 after associating for four years, I was not excited by the thought of using and maintaining a fleet of Windows PCs on a daily basis. As an associate, I was tasked with troubleshooting the practice's PC tech issues. I'm still haunted by the tangled mess of cords and wires in the server room and the frequency of which the computers needed attention. It was a nightmare and I knew I didn't want to have to deal with that-I wanted to focus on dentistry. At that point, I knew I wanted to reduce and minimize this type of clutter and hassle in my office. Apple computers ooze sexy, Bauhaus modern minimalist design. I knew that's what I wanted in my practice.

When I began searching for Apple-related options for the dental practice, it turned out that I wasn't alone. There were thousands of like-minded people running their practices using Apple technology. After doing my research, I decided that MacPractice DDS was the best option for those of us who think differently in the dental industry. It's a robust, fully functional practice management and clinical software, capable of doing everything the big guys can do but with one notable exception . . . it doesn't lock you into the Windows PC ecosystem.

Over the last six-plus years, we have used MacPractice DDS on Apple iMacs and not once have I ever regretted that decision. In that time span, I have had only one iMac that needed a trip to the Genius Bar for hard drive replacement; it was back in my office within 24 hours, and still runs my front desk today. Every other iMac that was originally purchased almost seven years ago is still running just like day one. Had I chosen a PC software, I would almost definitely have needed to replace or significantly upgrade my entire stock of computers by now.

A bigger issue is that I don't need an outside IT guy on speed dial. I am the IT guy and it's the easiest part of my job because I don't do much of anything. I've heard colleagues talk about paying thousands per month for someone to come and "clean" their computers, do set ups, and fix bugs and crashes. For my practice, that is generally unnecessary.

Somewhat routinely, new dentists in my area ask me questions about my experiences. When I tell them I run my practice on iMacs, I usually get a retort of how expensive it must have been. I've started asking to see their technology quote from their dealer. Every single time, the upcharged prices for "upgraded" PCs is a couple of hundred dollars more than what an off-the-shelf iMac would be (which is more than capable of running MacPractice DDS). If you combine that with the longevity of the hardware and savings on IT support, jumping into the Apple system actually seems like the economical choice.

I understand Apple is not for everyone, but if you enjoy what Apple technology does for your personal life through an iPhone, an iPad, iTunes, or whatever, then it's worth considering the same technology for your business.

The biggest issue when I first got started seven years ago was that not every single peripheral on the market was Apple compatible. Over the years, that seems to be significantly diminishing. More and more, I am finding that tech peripherals such as digital sensors, intraoral cameras, phosphor plates, pan/ceph, cone beam, and more have "native" compatibility with MacPractice. As time goes on, that will only increase.

Choosing your dental practice management software is one of the most important business decisions you will ever make. You and your entire team will need to interact with that software and hardware throughout the day, every day. The wrong decision can leave you and your staff miserable and potentially cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost time, production, and collections. I look forward to going into work every day to use MacPractice DDS and my Apple hardware. For my practice, Apple computers and MacPractice DDS were the right choice.

Joshua Austin, DDS, FAGD, is an editorial director for Pearls for Your Practice: The Product Navigator, an e-newsletter from DentistryIQ and Dental Economics. He also writes the "Pearls for Your Practice" column in Dental Economics. He graduated from the University of Texas Health Science Center Dental School and runs a solo general practice in a suburban area of San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Austin is involved in all levels of organized dentistry and can be reached at [email protected].

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