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 decision
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.
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 assigned tasks.
3. Make comparisons and compromises
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.
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 practice.
Andy Jensen is vice president and CMO at Curve Dental Inc., a software development company that provides web-based management solutions for dentists and dental groups. You can read more at curvedental.com/blog.