We spoke with Dr. Eugene Gamble, an experienced periodontist with an extensive background working at both solo practices and multi-location practices, to learn more about his experience with dental practice management software. Dr. Gamble also provided valuable advice for users who are on the market for dental practice management software.
Can you tell us about yourself?
My name is Dr. Eugene Gamble. I’m a UK-trained dental specialist (periodontist) and Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, as well as a member of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. I've worked with a number of dental software systems (US and worldwide). I'm currently using Dentrix by Henry Schein. I've also used less well established software in both hospital and practice settings and was asked to consult for Two Ten Health (producers of Salud) to help design their user interface.
I currently work in a solo practice with 12 other providers. In the past, I've also worked in multi-location practices and academic institutions/hospitals with over 200 stations.
What made you decide to use Dentrix?
The practice has been using Dentrix for 13 years now.
There were a lot of important considerations when choosing a software management package. One of the things we weighted heavily was longevity of the software and company. The nightmare scenario for a practice is to undertake the transition and training involved with learning a new interface only for the company to no longer support the software a few years later. This will eventually lead to incompatibility issues as fewer hard and software utilities integrate with an aged package. Henry Schein is a global brand and has an established reputation, so we felt comfortable that the company and thus the software would be around for many years, which has proven to be the case.
What other options were you considering?
We considered EXACT by Software of Excellence which is also now a Henry Schein company. Though I don't believe it was with Henry Schein at the time we were moving over to a new system it was another well established market leader. (Note: Software of Excellence was acquired by Henry Schein in 2007.)
You have extensive experience with multi-location practices, as well as hospital and university settings. What are features / functionality that you'd look for in those types of settings? Would Dentrix satisfy those needs?
Scalability is key for large institutions. It seems that there are challenges when software is faced with certain threshold numbers. With different departments all in the one location you will have idiosyncracies and niche requirements. They would have their individual booking systems and clinical needs. Does Dentrix satisfy those needs? Really, it would need to be tested. I haven't seen the software tested to those limits and I don't think it would work in its current iteration. That said, having worked with software developers, I'm of the belief that it could be possible, it just might take time to account for the scale.
What do you like about Dentrix, especially in comparison to the other systems you've used?
I believe that many of the software packages today have a lot to offer. Having used Dentrix, the support we've received has generally been very good. There seems to be a prompt response and they have up to now been able to log in remotely to assist us when necessary.
What do you think can be improved about Dentrix?
The user interface is not what I would consider to be the prettiest and there are some bugs that have caused a few issues. Also the issues with Mountain Time opening hours is, I believe, unacceptable for most users outside of the USA.
For imaging, do you use DEXIS (from Henry Schein), or a bridge to a 3rd party system?
We use XDR, there's a bridging element within Dentrix which seems to work quite well.
What advice do you have when selecting dental practice management software?
There is no perfect software system. You can always criticize the shortcomings of any offering. However, that shouldn't stop you from making the decision to purchase a system and move forward with your practice. There are a few key points worth considering.
Client support: I believe that one of the biggest factors to consider when deciding on a management system is the support offered by the company. Nothing is worse than having a software issue which can bring your practice to a grinding halt. The loss of a day's dental revenue amply covers the client support required to ensure a smooth running practice.
Automation (only if you're going to use it!): There are many design features that can make the day to day running of a practice easier such as automated text or email reminder services or marketing campaigns. These are important considerations but you need to consider if they will work with your telephone or email provider. These are fantastic features but only if you genuinely intend on using them. In my experience, many practices do not harness the power of the systems they purchase.
Training: To integrate any new system, I find that having the training and continued educational support really accelerates the implementation of use. If you are relying on help menus and instructional guides, though useful for reference, you may find that the learning curve will become a long drawn out affair.
Integration: You may have auxiliary hard and associated software and it is important to see where the management software stands with regards integrating these peripherals such as intra-oral cameras, digital radiographs and patient education programs. The last thing you want to do is purchase new equipment because your current batch doesn't integrate.
KPIs (Key Performance Indicators): Any small business needs to know what the numbers are. These can include revenue, patient numbers, profit center information etc. Look to see what type of data the software offers as this is critical in keeping you business solvent and allowing you to grow predictably.
Launched in 1989, Dentrix (by Henry Schein) is the most popular dental practice management software system on the market, and is a consistent winner of the Dentaltown Townie Choice Awards for practice management software. Dentrix has an estimated market share of 25-30% in the US, with more than 35,000 dental practices using the system. With such a strong track record, you can be assured that the software has all of the functionality needed to support tens of thousands of dental practices globally.
Read our full Dentrix review here.
Visit Dentrix's site here.