Reliable and comprehensive dental management software is vitally important in today's busy dental practices. With today’s technology, the right software can help dental groups practice more efficiently, from scheduling appointments to billing insurance to keeping electronic health records (EHR). But having the right software for your team (not too much and not too little), and making sure it is up-to-date and follows best practices, is incredibly important.
Below, dental experts weigh in on the best dental management software options, and why choosing the right program is imperative.
Please note that Berxi was not paid to promote any of these products. They are a compilation of the research a writer has received from dentists nationwide.
What Is Dental Practice Management Software?
Dental practice management software manages multiple aspects of a dental practice, including charting, imaging, and billing. Selecting patient management software requires thoughtful consideration, explains Dr. Eugene Gamble, U.K. - based periodontist, Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and member of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.
Why Is Dental Practice Management Software Important?
Dental practice management software is important for streamlining the many moving parts in your office. Think about all the files and paperwork needed to provide patients with the highest - quality care and to meet business goals year after year. But instead of having dozens of different programs and processes to use for each of your practice’s needs, you can accomplish all these things with only a single application.
One program can provide:
- Patient scheduling
- Employee time tracking
- X-ray and 3D imaging
- Patient communication, including text and email alerts
- Billing and payment processing
- Securely sharing patient data with other providers according to HIPAA guidelines
- Insurance claim processing
Benefits of Using Dental Practice Management Software
Benefits for Your Patients
Not only do dental practices benefit exponentially from dental practice management software, patients do too. Here are just some of the advantages that using a practice management program can have for your patients:
- Your patient’s records are more organized: This allows clinicians to quickly access important information. A patient’s previous medical history is easy to review, which helps patients feel more like their dentist knows them personally and is monitoring their ongoing care.
- Your patients get automatic appointment reminders: You can set your dental software to text, call, or email patients with appointment times in advance so they are less likely to forget and can plan ahead.
- Appointment times are shorter: Appointment time is shortened because clinicians and staff do not have to log into multiple software programs to find information on the same patient.
Benefits for Your Dental Team
Your dental team will also enjoy the advantages that a whole - practice management software solution can provide them as well, including:
- Your team will have an easier time staying on schedule: Finagling with complicated computer programs can take up a surprising amount of time, which can easily kick your team off schedule.
- Your staff will spend less time on hold with insurance companies: Integrated insurance billing and payment processing allows front desk and administrative staff to bill insurance companies in just a few clicks instead of having to call the company and spend time on hold.
Best Dental Management Software Options
Many different dental practice management programs are available for general dentists, pediatric dentists, periodontists, orthodontists, and other dental professionals. Some of them are used for patient billing, insurance billing, and 3D imaging, while others offer solutions for your whole practice. Here we discuss the best all - inclusive and most popular dental management software options and what the dentists who use these programs have to say about them.
Price: $179/mo per office location
Why People Love It: Previously known as Free Dental, Open Dental is an open - source dental management software that is known for being both comprehensive and affordable for solo dentists and small practices. It's the only open - source dental management software currently available on the market — which means users can access, share, and modify its source code, allowing practices to custom - code the application to meet their specific needs. The other dental management programs on the market are closed, which means the source code cannot be accessed by users.
“As an [Open Dental] user, I’ve found it valuable to be able to easily see current trends among my patients,” Kevin Dens, DDS, tells the American Dental Association. Dr. Dens serves as the chair for the ADA Council on Dental Benefit Programs.
Software Features: Open Dental offers many excellent benefits and features for users, such as:
- Integrated prescription capabilities that alllow dentists to print or send electronic prescriptions directly from the software
- Access to the entire backlog of training videos and instruction webinars
- Customer service support accessed quickly via online chat
- A central practice calendar and the option to book families together
Why People Love It: Dentrix is a popular software choice for dental practices that are looking for a proven, reliable option versus newer programs that may be buggy or problematic. Dr. Jay West, Dr. Peter Stanton, and Dr. Joseph Opack of St. Paul, MN, report how easy it is to use Dentrix to switch to paperless charting. "[It's] very user friendly. Accessibility is wonderful," the trio of dentists say. This software program enables their dental practice to "focus on the patient instead of the process of the paperwork," they elaborate.
It also has a "wow factor," explains Dr. Dennis Kent of LaGrange, IL. His patients are able to "visualize the treatment they need and to allay their fears about the treatment they don't need," he says. Dental treatment acceptance rates are higher with Dentrix, Dr. Kent notes. "The 'doubters' are easily handled with the visuals they get [from the program]."
Software Features: Dentrix is one of the most widely used dental management software programs and has a number of useful features for dentists, hygienists, and front office staff, including:
- Practices can register for Dentrix Mobile so patient information can be accessed from a smartphone or tablet in the event a 4G connection is needed.
- Payment agreements feature makes accepting payment plans and tracking patient balances easier.
- Dentists can set a schedule for their “Perfect Day,” which gives appointment scheduling staff a map for how exams, follow - ups, and emergency appointments should be made.
- Users benefit from extensive goal tracking and reporting capabilities.
Price: $350/mo per dentist
Why People Love It: Dr. Jesse Ritter at Smile Solutions of Baltimore discusses in a video how the application makes it easy to integrate new team members into a dental practice. "The user interface is so clean compared to other softwares," he says. It's not overcomplicated or difficult to navigate, making charting extraordinarily easy.
Software Features: Curve Dental allows professionals to access patient records securely from any device with an internet connection. It also offers:
- Curve Dental’s servers have a 99.99% uptime, so downtime is almost never an issue.
- The patient portal allows patients to access and submit forms and appointment requests online.
- Tightly integrated charting, imaging, and treatment planning allows dentists to view all of a patient’s health information in a single browser window.
- Extremely attractive odontogram increases patient treatment acceptance rates.
Price: $395/mo per practice
Why People Love It: Aaron DeForest, DDS, with DentalTechUp, mentions in his video review of the program that one of his favorite features is the software’s all - inclusive pricing. You get most of the capabilities for a flat rate, without a lot of upselling to access greater usability. "I also like the unlimited users and providers," Dr. DeForest says. "So if you have multiple doctors at the office, you don't have to pay extra."
Software Features: iDentalSoft allows dentists to schedule, chart, bill, and plan treatments for patients all in the same user - friendly interface. Other helpful features include:
- Two-factor authentication for maximum security
- eClaims integration
- Text patients from within the software
- Unlimited support and training resources
- Highly customizable to fit your practice needs
Price: $200/mo per practice
Why People Love It: Dr. Millard Roth, owner of Laguna Hills Dental in California, describes the superb imaging that is available with EagleSoft. "[It] has exceeded my expectations," he says. “[My hygienists] are very happy that I made the change in my practice because they don't have to retake images." He continues, saying, "The clarity is better than ever before. It's a very rewarding improvement."
Software Features: Owned by Patterson Dental, EagleSoft prides itself on all of its features, including:
- Administrative, clinical, and business operation management
- Storage of all image types — from video to digital X-rays — in patient records
- On-site training as well as remote specialists
- Flexible training and onboarding options
Price: $649 per month for a single office location
Why People Love It: Dmitry Burshteyn, co-founder and CEO of Progressive Dental Management, praises Denticon's easy-to-use cloud - based platform. "Having a cloud - based solution took away the bottleneck of servers," Burshteyn explains, emphasizing the importance of starting with a solid practice management solution. "You need to start with [software] like Denticon that can scale with you," Burshteyn adds.
Instead of using expensive legacy software options that eventually become out of date, dentists can stay up-to-the-minute with the latest in dental practice management technology. It also offers a portal that allows patients to access their medical records and better manage their dental care.
Software Features: Denticon is a cloud - based dental management software that has some of the following features:
- Available with an affordable monthly subscription
- No upfront licensing expenses
- Scalable system that grows with your practice
- Ability to view consolidated reports for all practice locations
- No purchase or maintenance of servers necessary
How to Choose the Right Dental Management Software for Your Practice
Dental lab veteran of 35 years and author Bill Warner advises professionals on how to choose the right dental practice management program for their clinics. "It's important to deal with a [software provider] that understands the needs and vision of your practice," he says.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding which practice management software to purchase:
- What features are most important to my practice?
- Do I want a legacy software system, or am I ready to move to cloud-based practice management?
- What resources do I have available to keep the software up-to-date?
- Do I need assistance with training my staff on the new program?
- How important are good analytics and reporting to my practice?
- How will a particular program benefit my dental practice?
- Will I need any new equipment in my office for this software?
"One of the things we weighed heavily was longevity of the software and company," Dr. Gamble says. He depicts a "nightmare scenario" for dental practices that invest time, money, and effort into new dental software, only for the company to later phase out and stop supporting the software in place of something new. He also warns that upgrades and new integrations may be incompatible with aged software packages.
Although choosing a dental management software program can seem intimidating at first, especially when comparing paid practice management applications to programs that are available with a free download, you can help the process go more smoothly with these tips.
Start with an outline of must - have features as well as any deal breakers. Look for a software solution that has as many of the features you want as possible within your budget and as few of the features that you don't want or need. If possible, ask for a software demo so that you can try a program on for size before fully committing to investing your practice's time, effort, and money.
Image courtesy of istock.com/Bojan89