If one of your business goals for 2023 was to grow your dental practice more efficiently, you likely began searching for dental practice management tools.
You might have noticed there is a long list of available solutions, and it can be challenging to discern which one will suit your practice needs and budget. After a while, many PMS systems can start to look the same. However, depending on your needs, there’s usually one that fits the best.
In preparing this guide, we evaluated all the available options on the market and identified the top choices for both small and multi-location offices.
How does a PMS Differ from a CRM?
Before your office can select the correct practice management software, you need to evaluate what type of software fits your needs the best. CRM is an all-encompassing term that typically includes tools such as organizing customer profiles, generating marketing content, pipeline management, sales and task automation, and reporting/analytics. A CRM and a PMS manage administrative tasks, store data more efficiently than a manual option, and build upon past interactions. Both systems also serve as a central platform for interactions between a business and the people it serves.
Many medical practices look for a CRM as a solution to many of their headaches that result in lost time, efficiency, and poor patient interactions. The issue with many CRM systems is they aren’t specific enough to the common struggles of a small practice or clinic. A PMS is a more specialized software designed for patients and practices specifically within medical fields. A solid patient management system will be able to organize the information surrounding each patient and track their appointments, reminders, visits, personal details, and insurance information.
Oftentimes, small dental practices need a more affordable solution and many CRMs are priced for large corporations. A PMS is a more specific type of software that is a better functional and financial fit for small dental practices. For more information about CRM systems, click here.
What Is Dental Practice Management Software?
Before diving into the best dental practice management software solutions, let’s first dissect what it can offer your practice.
Practice Management software is a system of record for patient data. As the name suggests, this software helps you manage your dental practice by automating or simplifying a variety of clinical and administrative tasks.
Here are key functionality factors you should search for:
– Patient communication (text messaging and email)
– Appointment scheduling
– Patient medical records and notes
– Billing and payment processing (including insurance)
– Transferring patient information to authorized providers
– Employee time tracking
As these systems have become more advanced, some have evolved to help dental practices with marketing and operational efficiency. Some of the best PMS systems have many or all of these tools to give you a wide variety of benefits for managing your practice.
Instead of your staff trying to do all these tasks manually or attempting to cobble together different systems with overlapping functionality, the right dental management software can provide everything you need to manage your practice all in one place.
Who Should Use Dental Practice Management Software?
While every dental practice, from a single practitioner location to a multi-location franchise, can benefit from using this type of software, not everyone has adopted it yet.
The practices that opt for this software solution are interested in having an efficient, well-organized office. It’s not unusual for a practice to identify a major pain point and then realize that this pain point is the symptom of a larger problem.
For example, an office manager might notice that she spends two to three hours per day confirming appointments. The time she spends on that task takes away from her ability to fill last-minute cancellations, answer phones, ensure patient records are up to date and work on marketing initiatives. As a result, this office manager might feel like each day she falls further behind, and her workstation is a disorganized mess.
The types of dental practices that use management software encompass all specialties, including general and pediatric dentistry, orthodontics, cosmetic dentistry, and more.
What these various practices tend to have in common is a desire to improve a critical aspect of their business that is either affecting customer service, and staff morale, or is holding them back from the growth that they need and deserve.
Dental practices that use dental management software tend to look for one or more of the following:
– A way to decrease no-shows and handle last-minute cancellations with appointment reminders and waiting lists.
– A cloud-based or mobile solution that allows staff to communicate with patients from anywhere, including the comfort of their home!
– Self-service options for patients like scheduling or rescheduling appointments, paying their bills or updating contact information.
– Marketing solutions that help dental practices with reputation management (getting online reviews) and email marketing.
– Increasing staff efficiency by monitoring key activities such as the volume of incoming and outgoing phone calls, phone call length, etc.
Dental practices can add all of these benefits with the right practice management software, but picking the right one for your needs can take a lot of time and effort. Even then, you still might not find the right match. We picked some of the best practice management systems for dental practices to make this decision that much easier.
How to Pick the Right Dental PMS Software
Before making your final selection, we recommend meeting your staff or key stakeholders to get an idea of what would make a dental management software solution the right fit for your organization.
Once you define the following objectives, you’ll be able to evaluate your options side-by-side and choose the best one for your business. These objectives are listed in no particular order, but we recommend deciding what your top priorities are so that you can determine what’s negotiable and what might be a dealbreaker.
1. Define your goals. Understand which problems you are trying to solve for your dental practice. At the most basic level, make sure the software you’re evaluating can solve them. Dental practice management software simplifies all sorts of processes. However, each type of software has its focus. What’s yours?
2. Select essential features. Which features are necessary, and which are simply “nice to have?” Adding on features that don’t help your practice can needlessly increase the price.
3. Consider ease of use: How tech-savvy is your team? Is a user-friendly solution at the top of your list? Keep in mind that each dental practice management software involves a learning curve. Practices hoping to hit the ground running should look for a PMS with user-friendly tools and ease of use.
4. Look at integrations: Will your dental practice management software integrate with other systems, or will it replace them? Platforms like Weave integrate with dental practice management software to connect the specificity of the software with other communication, like phones, texts, and emails.
5. Evaluate training and support: Make sure you’re clear on whether there’s an onboarding process and what, if any, support is available after purchase. Software with outstanding training and support impacts ease of use, especially in the first weeks of using the new product. Also, note whether support is included in your agreement or if it costs extra.
6. Compare prices. Check to ensure that the price of the software is compatible with your budget. Don’t forget to account for any equipment fees or additional costs for extra features. Decide what your practice needs, then make adjustments based on your budget.
Best Dental Management Practice Software for Start-Ups + Small Practices: Curve*
If you run a small dental practice, chances are you still need most of the bells and whistles that a large practice uses. The difference is that you don’t want to pay enterprise prices for managing a single location.
Curve boasts “enterprise-class” features at a reasonable price. The company also gives favorable deals to start-up practices, so if you’re new to the industry, Curve is a great choice.
Curve includes the following features:
- Front office management tools, such as scheduling, billing, and payment processing
- Clinical tools, including patient education
- Electronic claims forms
- A patient portal for scheduling, payments, forms, and accessing statements
- Business intelligence tools
- Patient engagement tools, such as appointment reminders and marketing campaigns
- Imaging compatibility
In addition to having all the features to bring your practice into the 21st century, Curve offers 24/7 support, training on your terms (online, in-person, and webinars), and HIPAA compliance.
Current customers boast that they’ve saved thousands of dollars by implementing Curve. Pricing, however, is custom, so you’ll need to book a demo first before the company can give you an estimate.
*integrates with Weave
Best Dental Practice Management Software for Boosting Profits: Patterson Fuse
Patterson Dental created Fuse as a cloud-based patient management system for the dental space to meet the changing needs of the industry. To get a better idea of those specific changing needs, Patterson sent out a team of professionals to ask dentists what tools and features they were missing in a PMS and with those results, created Fuse.
Patterson Fuse is the best PMS for boosting profits because of its easy navigation, central organization of data, task automation, and customization data. One of the main benefits of using Fuse is specific data can be customized and preferences can be set for each specific patient. This specific customization creates a better experience for each patient that feels more personal and makes them want to come back. For more information on how to personalize your patient experience, click here.
Fuse is also very user-friendly and easy to navigate. The customizable interface and simple navigation make it easy for your team to learn the software and decrease onboarding time. Fuse is also praised for having a strong support team that can troubleshoot issues and gets your team back on track. These benefits make Fuse a good option for improving productivity without a huge learning curve.
All of these features available through Patterson Fuse make it the best option for boosting your dental practice’s profitability.
*integrates with Weave
Best Dental Practice Management Software for Office Managers: Eaglesoft*
Office managers can be very particular about the type of practice management software their practice is using, considering how much of their day is spent using the software. A functional PMS system can either add or subtract from the daily stress of the office. Stress is a huge factor in productivity with 41% of stress workers saying that stress leads to a loss in productivity, according to Weave’s Podcast, The Happy Practice Playbook.
Eaglesoft is a practice management system that allows office managers to handle front-office workflows, clinical processes, patient experience, and overall business performance. Eaglesoft lets dental practices acquire and store all image types, including videos and digital x-rays, in one patient record. Their software adapts to the needs of individual offices by providing them with a user-friendly platform that pulls together administrative, clinical, and business operations.
One way Eaglesoft stands out for office managers specifically is their expert team of technology advisors that help practices create a software strategy and business flow suited to their unique needs. Eaglesoft benefits dental practices by offering on-site training, which is beneficial for office managers who want one-on-one training as opposed to digital onboarding. They also claim to have the industry’s more knowledgeable support specialists, who are just one call away when office managers, receptionists, or dentists have questions. Investing in software that will simplify the workload for your front office staff and save them time will reduce stress for everyone in the office.
*integrates with Weave
Best Dental Management Practice Software for Accessibility: Dentrix Ascend*
Dentrix has been in the dental industry for many years since it was founded in 1985. Dentrix is a web-based software suite for dental care and was one of the first dental software programs designed to run on Windows. The Dentrix software suite provides many helpful tools for appointments, bookings, scheduling, chart types, e-prescribing, and monitoring continual care for patients. Dentrix Ascend is a modern solution developed by the same company that developed the original Dentrix program.
Dentrix Ascend was selected for accessibility because of how mobile the software is and the simplicity of access. Dentrix Ascend is cloud-based, meaning the software is hosted in the cloud and you can access it via a web browser or dedicated desktop client. This makes accessing the data easy as your team is in and out of the office. Dentrix Ascend also works with mobile devices so dentists can stay up to date even when they aren’t in the office.
Dentrix Ascend is also accessible and designed for multi-location practices that are spread out across the country. When multiple locations can share important information and stay on the same page it creates a sense of brand identity and offers patients a similar experience wherever they go.
Best Dental Practice Management Software for Maximizing Efficiency: Open Dental*
Open Dental is an award-winning open-source software for dental practices. Open source means that any programmer has the freedom to develop and support Open Dental. Its relational database offers advantages over other models through simple data representation, superior data independence, and easy-to-use query language.
While Open Dental relies on a different model than many other PMS systems, its feature offering is quite similar. Open Dental allows dental practices to schedule and modify appointments and view patient records in a HIPAA-compliant way. Open Dental’s Accounts module provides dental practices with the ability to email and text reminders to customers and set up a patient and insurance billing system.
Maximize your practice’s efficiency by creating treatment plans, tracking progress, making notes, and managing patient images with Open Dental. Track time cards and automate billing for all of your locations. Global Health & Pharma gave Open Dental its Best Dental Practice Management Software Provider award in 2018.
*integrates with Weave
Best Dental Practice Management Software for Ease of Use: SoftDent*
Carestream Dental has been offering a practice management software called SoftDent for more than three decades. They continue to test and refine the product to ensure that it meets all the needs of dental practice while remaining user-friendly. This refining process lets dental practices spend less time searching for information and more time delivering quality care.
SoftDent’s Practice Central interface gives office workers easy access to patient information, as well as custom views of each team member’s daily tasks. Track which patients need their medical history updated, which time slots are open for emergencies, and which appointments have the highest dollar value.
SoftDent allows practices to expand their efficiency with parallel workflows. This concept means the back office can view clinical information in a patient’s chart while the front office is scheduling the patient’s next visit. Hygienists can chart at the same time another staff member is working on a patient’s insurance or viewing an image from the patient chart. These parallel workflows make SoftDent perfect for practices looking for user-friendly software that doesn’t have too many hurdles.
*integrates with Weave
Best Dental Practice Management Software for Imaging: Dolphin*
Dolphin Imaging and Management Solutions is a leading global provider of 2D and 3D imaging, diagnostic, practice management, and patient education software for dental specialists. Dolphin is committed to exceeding its customers’ expectations by adhering to worldwide quality and regulatory standards for medical devices.
Dolphin is used widely in the academic arena. For instance, 97% of orthodontic schools regularly use Dolphin, along with 72% of oral maxillofacial surgery programs and 20% of pediatric dental programs. Because Dolphin is frequently used in these settings, it has top-tier imaging software to meet the demand for high visibility. Although this might not be the perfect solution for all small dental practices, Dolphin serves a specific type of industry very well.
*integrates with Weave
Best Dental Practice Management Software with X-Ray Sensor Integration: DentiMax
DentiMax is a dental practice management software that offers dental x-ray sensor integration. Beyond this integration, it also gives employee time tracking, credit card processing, and electronic signature capturing on patient release forms. DentiMax is one of the few solutions that can be installed in your practice or accessed through the cloud.
There’s no need for a third-party bridge between imaging and charting systems with DentiMax, which simplifies practice workflow. It provides a cloud-based solution and traditional software to fit every budget and situation.
DentiMax mirrors your practice’s actual workflow, from checking in patients to viewing x-rays during treatment planning to scheduling upcoming visits. It also includes powerful features like electronic prescription writing and patient insurance status updates. All of these offerings work together to optimize the efficiency, productivity, and patient care of dental practices.
*integrates with Weave
Best Dental Practice Management Software for Scheduling Patients: iDentalSoft
Sometimes all you need is a solution that helps you schedule patients. This scenario might apply to you if you already have a system that you like, but it lacks this capability. Or, you might prefer your current system, but wish you could automate your most labor-intensive scheduling tasks and free up more time during the day.
In our opinion, the best choice for this solution is iDentalSoft. This cloud-based software prides itself on being platform-agnostic, so you can integrate it with various systems on any browser. You can request a demo to see what your total cost would be. Although this is not the best solution for all practices, iDentalSoft is a simple solution to patient scheduling.
Best Dental Practice Management Software for Saving Time: CareStack
If there’s one area where office managers and team members alike would like assistance it is saving time during the day. In our opinion, CareStack is the best choice to focus on time savings. CareStack is a comprehensive platform for dental offices and their teams focused on elevating the care, experience, and relationships between dental practices and their patients.
Because CareStack knows that dental practices come in all shapes and sizes, the software is designed for start-ups, solo practices, or even multiple locations. You can tailor the software to your specific practice needs and re-imagine the interactions you can have with your patients all on one platform.
Best Communication Platform for Integrating with Dental Practice Management Software: Weave
As organizations add locations, operations can become much more complex and difficult to manage. Additionally, if you need to integrate with another software or add multiple locations, your patient data is at risk of being lost. When evaluating the different options for multi-location offices and integration, Weave came out as the clear winner in this category.
With the all-in-one solutions that Weave provides, you can turn a multi-office phone system into a revenue-generating machine. And you’ll be increasing practice efficiency and elevating the patient experience at the same time.
For more than a decade, Weave has been working to optimize business and patient interactions for dental practices. With a mission to help visionaries run their business smoothly, Weave software seamlessly integrates with your existing operations to make everything better. Once you’ve brought Weave into your practice, you’ll wonder how you’ve managed without it!
Like other top-tier platforms, Weave includes both the essential and advanced tools that you need to have all of your locations running like a perfectly well-oiled machine, including:
– Electronic dental forms
– Contactless text payments
– Mobile capabilities
– Missed call texts
– Call pop-up profiles
– Digital fax
– Performance analytics
– Online review management
– Convenient payments
In addition to these capabilities, Weave also has a feature called Weave Unify, which has the power to connect your locations.
A few of the things that this feature set can do for you include:
– Schedule appointments at other locations
– Answer each other’s phone calls
– Get insights into top-performing offices
Weave is also transparent with results. There is a vast collection of case studies that demonstrate impressive improvement across offices, including case studies describing:
– A 2x increase in Google reviews
– 15 staff hours saved per week
– More than $100k in collections from outstanding balances
Further, Weave integrates with the top dental practice management software, including Curve Dental, Dentrix, Open Dental, SoftDent, Eaglesoft, Dolphin, and Fuse.
Weave Creates a Smarter Dental Practice
Though it can be tempting to go with your gut or throw up your hands and choose the first solution you see, we encourage you to actively seek out the best solution for your practice. Schedule demos with your top contenders and have a list of questions prepared. Every dental practice will have unique needs and challenges and there isn’t a one size fits all solution.
The best choice will make your day-to-day life easier and improve the relationship between your practice and patients. Consider heavily the opinions of office managers and team members who will be using the software daily. Keep in mind that Weave offers free demos, so why not schedule one now?