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As consolidation increases in the dental industry and cloud-based practice management software (PMS) options continue to evolve, there has been a significant increase in PMS migrations. Industry team members are requesting feedback and advice from peers now more than ever. 

When posted online the question receives consistent general guidance, such as: 

  1. Check out this software! 
  2. We use this and love it!
  3. We switched to this, and we hate it!

Frankly, this feedback is a bit tainted and less valuable than we would like to believe. It is human nature to like something you are comfortable with or dislike the unknown or unfamiliar. In addition, some of the feedback received comes from employees or affiliates of the PMS companies. Even if their feedback is genuine, the opinion speaks to how well the PMS works for their organization, not yours. Every dental organization does not work the same, so PMS software is not a one-size-fits-all solution.  

Below are five tips to ensure that your organization not only chooses the right software but that the migration is as successful as possible. 

#1 – Collect peer input, but only use it as a starting point.

Other’s feedback, even with the best of intentions, can sometimes provide misguidance. However, if someone has demoed multiple options, they can help you create a shortlist of top PMSs for further research. 

#2 – Deeply dive into demos and involve multiple key team members.

Although it would be great to choose simply from seeing one flashy demo, there is no more surefire way to have buyer’s remorse. It is critical to involve key team members in this process who have direct involvement in the different aspects of the business. Where one software may be strong on the clinical side, the billing and insurance side could fall short of your needs. Also, when the vendor mentions that they are working on a feature that has yet to be released, be cautious unless they give you a firm guaranteed timeline.

#3 – Understand the integration ecosystem of the PMS when it comes to third-party vendors you already utilize.

Some cloud-based PMS options do not play well with others and require you to use their partner third-party vendors. In this situation, there is typically a type of revenue share setup between the companies. Their vendor might not be the best option out there for your specific needs. If you value and want to continue relationships with some of your preferred vendors, make sure that they integrate with your new PMS. 

#4 – Make sure imaging will still work.

Some cloud-based PMS options incorporate imaging. If they have this feature, you want to ensure that it supports your existing cameras, digital x-ray sensors, and pan equipment. If they do not incorporate imaging, ensure that your current imaging strategy works with the new PMS via bridging or plan accordingly to migrate to another imaging solution that can integrate. 

#5 – Dedicate adequate resources. 

With practice staff immersed in the PMS daily, a lack of proper planning and resources can significantly decrease productivity and morale. Ensure that there is not only plenty of training time but also a sufficient transition time. Having a lighter schedule for a short period following the transition will reduce staff stress and frustration. Do not neglect change management and the impact on existing processes and staff training materials. Updating your internal resources before the transition will show your team the internal procedures were reviewed and tested. 

Several other aspects should go into consideration when deciding on a new PMS for your dental organization. Sizing up software for your current needs is a great first step but making sure it can support your growth in 5 years is even better. If you plan on scaling to 100 locations, will the PMS scale with you? If a PMS is cloud-based, it does not necessarily mean it can scale infinitely. Does the PMS have data warehouse functionality or advanced analytics that allow your organization to be data-centric and make data-driven decisions?

Lastly, there are multiple server-based PMS options such as Open Dental and Dentrix Enterprise, which can be implemented in a private cloud to provide many of the same benefits as a cloud-based PMS. Depending on your specific scenario, it may be more cost-effective to go in this direction rather than making a major PMS change. It is critical to discuss your situation with an expert to determine if this is a practical option for your organization and what domino effects to consider.

Posted in PMS

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