Choosing a software system for your practice
So whether you are looking to upgrade your existing system, or are choosing practice management software for the first time, here’s an overview of the capabilities you should consider.
If you still believe that dental practice management software is simply a case of computerising your appointment book and clinical charting, think again! Things have moved rapidly in the last five years and although it’s true that there are numerous systems available, the best examples provide way more than smoother workflow management; they are a complete business tool, which touches every element of practice life.
One of the most tangible benefits of having a computerised system is its ability to deal effectively with the vast amounts of data involved in running a modern-day practice. Finding patient data quickly is a prerequisite for running an efficient practice, meaning you’re able to deal more effectively with patient queries and specifically target groups of patients. Around 17% of UK practices still operate without a computerised practice management system and for these practices, even the most basic task of patient record-keeping, can be time-consuming and problematic.
Another administrative task that can be vastly improved by the application of software systems is recalls. Evidence has proved that recalls are one of the key levers in driving utilisation and profitability, with the country’s top performing practices achieving recall success rates in excess of 85%. So to be truly effective, it makes sense to have an effective automated recall system. Automating recalls not only removes this tedious, time-consuming task from hard-pressed receptionists, leaving them more time to concentrate on patient care, it also manages the sending of recalls using different methods and at a pre-determined frequency, without needing to rely on individuals; a strategy that has been shown to deliver the most effective results.
A practice management system should also facilitate the easy extraction of performance data. This data is a critical business tool, aiding your understanding of numerous performance indicators, including spare capacity, hours worked and invoiced, the most common treatments performed and the number of outstanding treatment plans. This vital information provides benchmarks against which performance can be measured and improvements made that will help your practice operate more efficiently.
In the last 12 months, as well as concentrating on internal efficiency, EXACT has taken an additional step forward in an effort to help dentists tackle the complex but necessary world of patient marketing. The need to attract and retain patients in an increasingly competitive market is driving awareness of the importance of marketing and a number of new developments now mean that dentists are able to take advantage of digital opportunities and improve their online visibility.
This marketing capability automates many essential marketing tools and provides a means of tracking and monitoring campaigns and calculating a return on investment. Campaigns can be tracked for enquiries via email or telephone and then linked directly to treatment uptake by the target group, giving a clear indication of the return on investment in each case.
In the same way, patient feedback has recently developed and is an element of engagement in which regulatory bodies such as the CQC and GDC are particularly interested. The capability to complete a number of forms including Medical History, FP17s, Friends and Family tests and GDPR consent on a tablet device at reception, and then have that information automatically uploaded to the patient file, saves time and reduces frustration for members of the front desk team.
General feedback and patient testimonials play an important role in maintaining a practice’s online presence, and harnessing the power of patient recommendations can result in a practice boosting its website ranking and also its ability to dominate the search engine results page. Failure to take advantage of positive patient feedback through lack of a co-ordinated plan, means that practices are missing out on an important element of their digital strategy.
Over the past 30 years, as technology has developed, so too has the profession’s appetite for more sophisticated software capabilities and in the last five years this increased demand has been met and exceeded by a steady supply of innovative solutions.
These solutions are a combination of software, automation, performance monitoring and business consultancy; this enables practices to effectively deliver outcomes, rather than simply perform the standardised functions that epitomised the previous decade. Optimised chair-time, a flow of new and existing patients via online booking, automated administrative functions, and now the ability to optimise patient marketing opportunities, are all helping to make EXACT a complete business tool for dental practices.