Howard: It is just a huge honor for me today to be podcast interviewing John Hastings who's the founder and general manager and CEO at ACE Dental Software in Atlanta Georgia. He's been in the dental software business for over 26 years, he has a background in engineering and we both share an MBA degree. He spent years in sales and marketing with several computer hardware and software companies, after marrying a dentist he became frustrated with her dental software shopping for a new easier program proved futile so he founded ACE Dental Software 26 years ago. ACE has spent years and the relentless pursuit of the easiest programming dentistry. So are you still married to a dentist?
John: That was my first wife...
Howard: Okay well nobody's gonna give you a fault for unhooking from a dentist.
John: It was ten years I learned a little bit about the dental practice but
Howard: Well right on by the way you guys out there I asked John to come on the show he didn't asked me this is not a commercial. I never forget I was in 1987 I opened up my office and I was getting my first computer and Intel had a 2, had a 386 member in the Intel 386 and the guy said to me hey Howard they just came out with the 486 if you pay extra money get the 486 you'll never have to buy another computer the rest of your life and I thought damn I'm gonna invest in a 486 I think the pen 10 the next version was the Pentium which made the 486 look crazy but you and I have been in this game for several decades what's the state of the dental software industry today?
John: Wow you know it's well it's transitioning use utilizing more and more the cloud now and I think we can accomplish so much more for the dental practice with services that we can do now that we couldn't before and security the encryption everything on the cloud. So that seems to be the direction everything seems to go now.
Howard: So you I have so much respect for you because you are competing and some monsters out there mean big ol Henry Schein owns dendrix big ol patterson owns a eagle soft. How do you compete with those guys?
John: Golly that's good question I think it's just great customer service and easy-to-use software they're you know we work really as you said in the introduction we worked really hard to be easy to use. My first wife's dental software was so challenging that she used about five or ten percent of the program like many do today and in some of the programs. If it's too difficult to learn they don't learn it they don't use it they don't benefit from it and we just worked really hard to make something that was so intuitively easy, part of that was motivated but when we started we didn't have the funds to send trainers around the country to train people so it had to be something they could pretty much pick up and start using right away and we focus on that from the get-go and it's been that way ever since.
Howard: So what software was she on?
John: You know was a Doss program I don't think they're still in business, trying to remember the name but I believe it's called soft Rix, did you ever hear of that one?
Howard: No but you know I'm back in the day I think in 1987 when I was looking at clouds our looking her software was Softdent for 30 years and I think there was like 300 dental software companies out there how many of them are there today would you guess?
John: 30 viable companies I would say.
Howard: 30 viable companies and are you mostly your in Atlanta, George are most of your customers in Georgia?
John: Not really know what happened 26 years ago was we developed the software gave it away to some friends who were dentists and they loved it and we put more and more into it and I didn't have any money for marketing, couldn't buy ads and magazines couldn't go to trade shows but there was a new thing back then just taking hold you may have heard of it called the Internet and we had already developed one website for another business and developed the website for ACE Dental, I think we were the first website for dental software and people would call and ask for information on the program we didn't have any printed brochures can afford that. So we decided to give people a copy of the program and we send them a cd-rom with the program or we let them download it I'm sure we were the first dental software that let people download the program on the website and they would take it and install it and try it it was as easy as we claimed it was and they call call us up an order it was we were off to the races.
Howard: Yeah internet was a big deal. It obviously the final solution of the dental software is nowhere to be seen today I mean look at where Dentrix is and Provo, Utah look how many other companies were started by ex Dentrix employees all around Utah. In Utah has me how many dental startup companies they have and what I it's just it's so frustrating I've spent 30 years of my life being so frustrated by dental software but what is are your customers all-american? I mean is it an American play or do you have Canadians or?
John: We do not have Canadians they made a pretty high bar challenge there they handle their insurance so we don't we haven't taken that on but we have people around the world we have dentists in Kenya and Thailand and all over the place so yeah.
Howard: My major pet peeves are not number one like when you go into the Hyatt or the Hilton or you return a car to our Hertz rent-a-car, the operational logistics are like they got like six exact questions to check you in or five or six to check you out and then you go into any dental office and you open up the dental software and there's like you know a thousand different features that you can do and we all know that if you go in there and run a report that ninety percent of the features have never been used but when you when you're have staff and they don't use 90 percent of those features what people don't realize is that feat all those excess features are you know they bog you down there and then you forget the one or two key things that you have to have like maybe who referred you or you know or whatever but I'm what is the easiest way for a dentist listening to you to get on his software or her software and find out what features they've used versus they haven't used?
John Well what you know if they if they're I think the recall system is one of the best ways to know are you getting them back in the office and a lot of things slack a lot in that area and their software should have tools to help them do it but they think some of them lose focus I don't know if this is true I've heard he said that the dental schools in America teach any courses and how to run a business and I know you're big on teaching the business aspect of the dentist but you know I think a lot of need to sharpen up on the business skills and that's the place I would start.
Howard: Well you were a trained engineer correct from Georgia State or from Christian Brothers University uh Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering but then you went back to Georgia State got your MBA same with me. I went to Creighton and dental school Missouri but went back to ASU ten years after I've been in school graduate in 87 went back in 98 and 99 and got my MBA and well it was a life changer for me and you know it's I tell people that when you're when you don't have an MBA and you think you're doing business you're like your dental assistant he's been with you ten years assisting you. I mean obviously after your dental assistant assist you ten years she could do the fillings and the crowns and the impression she could do it all but would she really be a dentist no and I was that MBA degree was that a didn't have a big impact on your career?
John: It has had a big impact yes especially running this business but it's it also adds frustration because we want to put things into the program that can help dentists be better businessmen but you know the old saying you can lead a horse of water you know we can put things in the program and people weren't clamoring for it and then that's something else in his underutilized.
Howard: Well yeah that means the end of the day I mean I always thought that the biggest Christmas gift on the end of the day is you know son walks in with a toothache and you get a pull an extra four set of wisdom teeth or pull a molar or something before you go home and but they wouldn't stay after work with that same enthusiasm to run a recall report. I mean it's why I love dentist and it's why they first I mean I love the fact that they love dentistry I love the fact they love their art I mean that is so cool and all they want to learn about is dentistry and it takes real leadership skills to try to lead this horse to water say okay guy but you just pulled that set of wisdom teeth you know what was your overhead on that did you did you net 312 dollars after taxes or did you lose money because your Medicaid fee schedule and they just don't know but another big part of that is because none of the dental software hooks up with their accounting software. So you know the fortune 500 they're all on a completes managerial information system but every dental office they've got their dental software over here with all the patients names procedures and billing and then they got quicken over here and they don't reconcile the two so you ask them when you walk in there you say okay it's Monday morning 8:00 o'clock what's your break-even point for today they have no idea and then at the end of the day they go man that was a busy day and I'm like busy well I mean for all you know 30% was Medicaid the rest was PPOs and for all you know you lost $100 today I mean they just don't know. How close are we to reconciling dental software with accounting software?
John: It's not that challenging it's again it's getting the utilization of it to someone want it, you know if you put things in the program and and people don't take an interest in it then it's very frustrating but I'll give you an example where yours several years ago four five years ago we started handling the automatic reminder so the E-reminders, texts and emails and automated voice calls and I was shocked that so many dentists said no we're not interested they didn't want spend the money but we said okay then we'll give them a free trial and they'll see the big difference it'll make and in bring patients in stopping no-shows and in a recall, no still not interested in the free trial we offered to bribed some of them when they wanted to purchase something from us we said we'll take $200 off if you'll do a free trial of these E-services and some I would still say no I'm not interested. So you see you're kind of beating your head against the wall if you have things that can help them make more money and they just say no to it.
Howard: Yeah I'll never forget I got into some oh I think it was in 99 I got into this big argument with a good friend of mine the CEO of Dentrix and I was out at his office at Melville New York Stan Bergman. He's been on the show the president/ceo Henry Schein and I was telling him how these features that Dentrix would have to do because he wanted me to switch the dendrix I was on Softdent and I told him that this was the most important hooking it up to accounting well the guy didn't I he totally respected my feedback so we assigned a one of his team members at a MBA she flew down to Phoenix she met our team she wrote now features then she surveyed something like it was either a thousand or five thousand Dentrix users and basically merging Dentrix with with an accounting software to give him all these reports surveys five thousand people this girl probably worked on it for a month and almost every single person said they were not interested and I was I mean I was gut-punched I almost had to take a knee. I'm like these are my homies how could my homies not realize how desperately they made this and Stan says they don't care I mean we ask them this is not my opinion here's the survey they Howard you are saying something that the market doesn't want and I'm like gosh darn I mean at the end of every night of every franchise in America every McDonald's knows if there is their crew labor was their food cost is thirty one percent versus thirty two percent or if their labor was fourteen percent or 18 percent they know if they netted fourteen percent at the end of day versus thirteen point nine and then here's his dentist just did four fillings on a PPO schedule I say what did you what did you bill for those whore fillings like oh I get I get 250 of fillings so there's a thousand bucks and I knew this is a PPO you got one hundred and twelve dollars for four fillings what was the cost of that room for an hour I have no idea. So did you work hard yeah did you make any money well I've got a gut feeling I was like well guts are fill with fecal matter you have no idea what you're doing. Why don't you want to know what you're doing and then they're just dentist they love to do dentistry. I mean all we want to do is lay you take you to their operatory and perform surgery in your mouth whether it's a filling a crown or a cleaning they just that's all they wanna do. So go through your features and tell them what they need to know,your ACE Dental Software features. The first thing you put up is patient and family ledgers why is that important or what's your unique selling proposition there?
John: Well it was something that we needed in my first wife's practice so it was the first thing we put into the program just be able to separate the each individual patient ledger from the family ledger, it was easy to do and we've had a lot of compliments on that but there's as far as uniqueness goes I'm trying to think of what the most recent thing we've done that's unique. Well I'll tell you one thing that is I think it's totally unique I don't believe anyone else the industry's doing this but we we're switching pretty much how most everybody switched over now to a hybrid cloud solution which is it's not a browser-based cloud like some of them curvein, Planet DDS and those others. We put the data on the cloud and but the program is installed in the local computer so it's much faster than any browser based system only the data has to be transmitted back and forth over the internet which is a small fraction of the entire screen that a browser would do so we're getting a lot of great speed it's totally encrypted we use microsoft azure they've done a fantastic job with what they call transparent data encryption and it's all the data is encrypted both data in transit and data at rest so it meets all the HIPAA requirements for that and it's really been a shot in the arm to our system that's that's the newest thing that we've done that I don't think anyone else has a hybrid cloud solution.
Howard: Okay well first explain which the cloud is and they explain the hybrid part.
John: Okay the cloud is putting data on a server somewhere on the internet and all we can do a very quick about a one-hour data conversion from a local database of ours to cloud. Now also our program we use the exact same program whether it's a local database or cloud database so we only have one code base to maintain compared to let's say a Patterson where they have a fuse program I think is what it's called on the cloud and then they have a the Eagles soft on the desktop and they've got two code bases and I think the same is true with dendrix with their but is it a sin then thin tricks level but we only have one code base and so the hybrid part of it means that instead of having everything on the cloud where you would open up a browser plug-in a username and password and do all your work from a browser window, we have to have the pro install the program on each local workstation so we're using the processing power of the local workstation to do the bulk of the work which is much faster and then like I say we only transmit data back and forth to the Microsoft Azure and it's it's fantastic. It also takes a lot of network traffic off the local network, we found that as practices started years ago, started adding digital imaging we had more and more slowdowns on the local networks and people are complaining about slowness but when you're transmitting megabyte images across the same network that you're trying to transmit your practice management data across then you know there's going to be collisions and difficulties and corruption and all of that is gone now when we go to the hybrid cloud.
Howard: So what Microsoft version of software do you think dentists should be on right now at their office I mean the I had dinner last night would two dentists and from Ahwatukee and Chandler and one was on Microsoft Office seven one was on eight what do you recommend now?
John: We've switched everything over to office 365 which is pretty well cloud-based and it's affordable and you get everything that office has to offer some of its a little more than you want. They have a Skype for business that you can't uninstall, it's not our thing but you know how Microsoft does some things but we like that office 365 they seem to have it pretty well pinned.
Howard: Yeah Microsoft bought Skype and then they bought LinkedIn too and so I'm wondering what their strategies as I was hoping some day on LinkedIn like if instead of messaging you on LinkedIn that I could just had a call button and FaceTime you, use to Skype video but yeah so you like Microsoft Office 365. Some IT people have told me that one of the problems they see in dental offices that all the desktops are different rams and microprocessors and software's is that as important and 2019 to have a consistent PC network in your office for all the computing or does that not really make a big deal?
John: That's a great question but we always tell our customers we're experts in application software but we're not Hardware experts and we're not networking experts and when there's a problem a lot of times they call us and we explain that you know computer people have specialists just like dentists have endodontists and periodontists. I think a lot of people think that every dentist knows everything about dentistry and but you know you wouldn't send somebody to a periodontists for a root canal. Coming to me about hardware is like you know asking, it's just not in my round house to be deal with that we've dealt with that for years where people were concerned about slowdowns on their network and they want us to fix it and they'd hate to hear that oh you need to call your IT guy to come in there and take a look at it and thankfully now with what the hybrid cloud all of those issues just disappear. It's we're so glad that we don't have to deal with that quite as much. As far as the hybrid cloud goes I would say what you just asked about is nowhere near as important as a local area network where there's a lot of talking going on between workstations and servers and Microsoft did a fairly good job of keeping all of those different versions of Windows working together but they can cause issues on the network but like I said I'm not next networking expert.
Howard: Did you say that it's not in your roundhouse did you just say roundhouse?
Howard: I that is so funny that must be a Georgia thing I'm in Kansas and Arizona it's a wheelhouse and I've never heard a wheelhouse described as a round house but you know how we get around that IT deal is since 1987 we start our office we always bought everything from Dell only because of their magnificent category so when IT guy comes in your office and he's looking at you know what's going on he just pulls up your dell account and he knows every workstation all the RAM memory what year was born and over the last 30 years so many times that I we had a software problem or an IT prom or whatever the IT guy just pulls up the Dell deal and goes we need to switch out Valerie's computer or we need to upgrade Chris's computer or we didn't have enough RAM or this or that but you know if you buy if you go buy that stuff that somewhere else like Best Buy or something I wouldn't know how you would do the record-keeping. So that's why we will always be on Dell just because with Dell I can log on and find out what every single workstation for every single person they age the year the memory the RAM and I a lot of times the IT problems solve it out there. What percent of dentists today in the United States do you think are using cloud-based services, is this say when did it really start what percent market penetration where do you think it's going to go when we did cloud computing and dentistry really start going and where is it now?
John: I think it's been maybe six, seven years ago I think it's started getting some traction about five years ago. I think we started with Azure about four years ago, as far as penetration more than half of our users are on our hybrid cloud but it doesn't take a lot. Ours is very inexpensive because they only pay a small hosting fee on Microsoft Azure it's not near as expensive as some of the browser based companies so it's a pretty easy decision but as far as nationwide I presume it's increasing pretty rapidly because you see Patterson and Dentrix getting into the game with their cloud offerings. So it looks like there's a lot of momentum going in that direction.
Howard: So bring us up to date on electronic insurance claims. Are their still dental offices are doing paper some or doing electronic claims? What do you think you can educate my homies on versus electronic claims?
John: I think they're getting smoother and better all the time all the the companies the clearing houses so we deal primarily with change healthcare and they've done a great job of getting everything up to speed and they integrate well with with the national electronic attachments in the aid. So once they get a taste of it then the you know the practice is that I can't remember anyone ever going from electronic back to paper but more and more are going to. I think that's a very high penetration in terms of electronic claims.
Howard: and why did you go what change healthcare or they would you say they're the biggest player in dentistry for electronic claims?
John: I believe they're the biggest player in dentistry yes they're not the largest Clearing House total but I think they're the largest in terms of dental claims. I think I believe most of the other clearing houses at some point utilize some of their network to to get to get the job accomplished and the more hands that claims pass through the more issues are gonna arise so but we've been with them for many years they've been they change is a good name for them they change their name over and over again from NEIC to Envoy to Webmd to Change Healthcare, so we've been with them through all of those.
Howard: Yeah and where's were they out of there in Nashville Tennessee where you were born in Nashville where you are Tennessee?
John: Memphis, Tennessee yes.
Howard: Memphis Bill Street
John: Bill Street, yes
Howard: The three greatest music streets in America is Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Bill Street in Memphis and 2nd Avenue and Nashville Tennessee and a lot of people say oh I'm not into country music or jazz I don't care if you are or aren't, when you're in that neck of the woods when you're in bill Street how can you not love jazz same with bourbon straight and and I'm not a big country music fan even though I grew up in Kansas but man when you're in Nashville. I mean those are just the three greatest music areas so these guys are Nashville Tennessee is that one of the reasons you're close to these guys?
John: No I don't think that entered into it, I think we just got dealt with them back when they like I say when they were NEIC, I can't remember what them stands for and then they did have an Atlanta office here they well they acquired a company here in Atlanta and called Mede America, Mede America and we we had some friends over there that we had worked with and so they merged in and and it's just it's been a big happy family.
Howard: So what about appointment scheduling?
John: Well that's an interesting question, we're rolling out our new patient portal now which allows every patient to have a username and password for security and because of that we don't have to be as concerned about protected health information. So we're gonna we're now able to allow new patients to fill out their forms online their even their medical history which we were nervous about without usually in the password security but they can do all that and then we are also rolling out the ability for them to choose their appointment times online and we had we've had a number of requests for that from the dentist for quite a while so is we can we can automate the what we call the E-recall and sending out texts and emails to patients who are due or overdue for recall and give them a link to click and make their make their appointments online.
Howard: So right now if i was gonna be a new patient at a dental office running your software, ACE Dental Software I could go online and fill out my health records before I came in there to the office?
John: Fill out your patient demographics name address phone databar socially all that and then you can fill out your insurance company information as much of it as you understand a lot of people don't understand theirs but if you have it you can fill it out and you can put it in your medical history form you can sign consent forms whatever the practice wants you to do and when they when they walk in the door then they click one button it imports the new patient and imports their insurance and saves the staff a lot of time.
Howard: You know last week me and my partner in crime my general manager my president Laurie Louise we went out for dinner with Delta CEO you know I always believed in networking with your value chain and what I was telling him is I said why do you patients still come in with a paper form I mean gosh I mean why don't people that have Delta just download an app and then you know maybe come in and that I could just bar scan it in and well yours what you're saying is amazing because so many times a new patient comes in he says yeah I've dental insurance and you're like and oh I think it's Delta it's like that's all you know and you know and it's just it's just crazy and then when they ever talk about health care reform most of the MBAs look at the cost of the American healthcare system and think upwards of 30 percent of it is just admin cost and you know there was just a big story today in a Wall Street Journal about how General Electric and so many of these companies are just massively automating so many of their of their work functions and with you know machine learning and just make it automation. It's like gosh you come into my dental office today we still have a dedicated employee who's gonna call your insurance company talk to a human verify everything you know you just get rid of all those things and I'm looking at this lady and my office is 31 years old and I'm like I seriously was so delusional I thought when Amazon went public in 94 that was in a year you know this would all be automated and it's still not automated but I applaud you, you're the first I heard you go to many dental websites and says click here to print out the form so you can fill it out on a piece of paper and bring it in. Well then you your number-one cost is labor so now your expensive labor has got to enter all that data and so I applaud you the only secret to lower prices lower costs I applaud you for that innovation where they can fill out the new patient information online I've not heard of that are you the only one doing that?
John: I'm not sure there are third parties at all for patient portal type of solutions but we don't like third parties. Back when solutionreach and demandforce we're approaching our users we can we say we can do better than this and cheaper and so we developed our own you know our own e-reminders you recall a survey and we do it better and cheaper we're in the same thing with the patient portal it's all it's all in the house.
Howard: Now are you a programmer yourself?
John: Well I've done a lot of self taught programmer, in mechanical engineering I think I had one course in Fortran and that didn't go very far but yeah I've done some programming but I mainly oversee the programmers. You know you have to kind of keep a tight rein programmers think like programmers they don't think like you and me they don't think like dental staff and they write things that make perfect sense to them but maybe not to somebody sitting in a dental practice. So we've kept a tight rein on that and said no this you know go back and do this over again make it simple make it easy make it intuitive and it takes longer and harder to do it that way but I think we get much better utilization out of the program when people can sit down and intuitively figure it out.
Howard: How many programmers you have?
John: Well we have some contract programmers we bring you in on certain things but you know we we always have four and sometimes we're up to eight if we have special things like the you know the cloud-based things of patient portal and things like that.
Howard: Yeah you know I'm dental town has had five programmers, same guy my first programmer Ken Scott the the the whole team still there and but the best analogy I can explain to programmers I could tell any of my homies make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich no problem they just grab two slices of bread start slapping on peanut butter and you know and jelly but a programmer is like okay this is slice one and for the sides a and B this is slice two with slides a and B which side did you went to peanut butter on and there dentists like I don't care just make me a PBJ and they're like you know so they it's a very methodical thing and but yeah I don't like outsourcing programming or I don't like outsourcing anything because you just don't have any control of where it's going and another thing I thought was interesting I've lived through this cycle twice when patients are scheduling online when you're old like me you want to go I still go into the bank and do my banking at the teller. I mean hell you got to talk to your buddy that's you know she's worked there 10, 20, 30, years you get a free sucker you know who would want to do the drive-thru but these Millennials they don't think it's customer service have to deal with another human being and these are people who are booking online we started that and it's amazing how people will make an appointment at 10 o'clock at night and they would rather do their banking online like I have all my young employees they do all their banking online on their iPhone with Chase online. I've noticed they all prefer chase over Bank of America for ease of use and computer friendly but yeah that's you know logging on and filling out your paperwork scheduling, appointment these dentists are gonna put up a resistance because if if all the sudden you know John Hasting says you know I made myself an appointment on Monday they're they cringe at that but that is the future isn't it?
John: I think so I think you're absolutely right about the the the younger ones want to do all of this this is the request we've had from dentists that their younger ones want to be able to do this , they're getting used to that and some of the practices don't understand. We have a little bit I think seemed like the wives who say when we when we talk to them about doing things online oh no no we like the personal touch now they want to call patients during the middle of the day and while the patient's don't want to be bothered in the middle of the day they love the text messages much more than you know some of the older folks but a good example of that we recently a year or so ago we added two-way texting within our program so you need text from any workstation in the office you can see each workstation can see when the response comes in and it is just blown us away how much utilization that gets I mean they they have found it's just instant communication with patients Anytime Anywhere and they love that part of the program.
Howard: Yeah and you see it in your own family like a lot of times I'll call one of my four boys and they immediately unavailable and one second later they text sup you know as in what's up sup and it's like and then I'll call back say why are you texting and but they you know two of my four prefer texting and to prefer calling and so the biggest bias you always bring to any business is what you think the market wants and the market doesn't care what you want and a big hunk the market wants to do it all digitally they don't want to talk to Shirley they don't want Shirley calling her on the way to work they want to do it all taxed all digital. The Millennials are quite different. I want to go back to your recall management because I'm you know if I hygienists I've been pre pointing my hygienist for you know 31 years and if the hygienist sees eight people on eight-hour day and only six of them scheduled to come back in and those two and don't come back in I mean you're losing a quarter of your practice every day I mean when and when you look at it the typical office that I analyze this is what I see they they flat line they've been, I don't care if they're collecting 40,000 a month or 80,000 a month or 120 thousand a month they've been flat that way for you know the last decade and then you look at their new patients and they've been throwing 25 new ones in every single month it's like well dude if you're throwing 25 new patients on to your practice every single month and your revenue has flatlined for a decade then simple math says you you're losing 25% of your practice and even was my circle of family if I asked what would your next clean I don't know you know I can't remember I think my last one is in March they so are reliant on someone from our office from Valerie taxing them you know you're next recall appointment is in two days at nine o'clock that you pre appointed. So the recall management is it's just everything in fact let me I call it the Netflix of the dental office because the reason Netflix valuations are so high is because they get that guaranteed ten bucks from you every single month and I don't know if you're gonna have cavities or need root canals or crowns or bridges all that stuff of that Netflix income of having your customers come in with you every three to six months that's the whole foundation of the financial annuity that's the recurring revenue. It's absolutely the most important part. So what would you say about the recall management that ace offers?
John: We've offered all sorts of reports to allow them to draw the information out and then they can you know they can utilize that to manually create their emails or whatever they might want to use from that report or postcard or letter writer, we can do all kinds of things and it did not get the utilization that should have gotten them but once we added the e-recall, once we added the automation where it we automatically send out text and emails for patient is due two weeks from now we send them another email and text if they're three weeks overdue we send them with another one if they're well we pull a list of all the patients that are six weeks overdue we don't send them anything we send that we email that list to the practice we think they need a phone call if they're six weeks overdue. So we kind of guide them along with this and it's been you can you can see a dramatic hygiene production increase when people start utilizing this service.
Howard: Yeah it's everything um prescriptions, how is that going? Their's been a lot of recent changes in regulations because the opioid crisis I mean we can no longer call in you know a lot of pain meds you know you have to have a physical prescription a lot of states or triplicate form how's the prescription writer these days with all these new changes and narcotic laws?
John: We partnered with a company called Dosespot a while back I think several of dental software companies are utilizing them and it's interesting because the first state to require say they're gonna require e- prescribing was Minnesota but they'd only enforce it and we were hustling to get that going to accommodate the ones we have in Minnesota and none of them use it because they they don't demand it then New York came along and New York put some teeth in it and they virtually all of our dentist in New York fader utilizing it you know I hear Arizona is going to do it or has done it but and we heard much from them I don't know if they're gonna be a Minnesota type state or are they gonna be a New York type state.
Howard: and what's the difference between Minnesota and New York State?
John: They just don't enforce it they said that you know they're not going to allow paper scripts for from what's the schedule yeah.
Howard: Schedule two, vicodin, hydrocodone
John: They said they weren't going to allow it but they allow it as long as they allow it the practices are still writing paper strips so but New York I mean they're they got a real serious about it they said no it's not gonna work and it doesn't work there.
Howard: Wow so Dosespot has really been helping you do that. Wow I just pulled up their website and they I'm already doing they already have all my information and interesting. So the prescription changes a lot. Their number one cost is labor and dentists always ask should I pay salaries I am clock in or clock now you have an employee time time clock feature what is your thoughts on that?
John: You know we handed that to the program a while back not expecting many people to use it and it's heavily utilized so apparently the the practices are finding out it's really thing to have them clock in and out. It's a heavily utilized feature.
Howard: Yeah if someone's listen to you and they're already using Dentrix from a Henry Schein or they're using Eaglesoft what would you what would you tell them what would be your unique selling proposition, why would you want them to use you instead of Dentrix Eaglesoft?
John: You know changing software is never fun or easy, we get calls every day from people who have a problem if they have a problem we want them to give us a call we'll help them solve it but I don't encourage people to just change software on a whim. So I'm not sure you know the in reality you take all the top companies we probably all have 99% in common with each other in terms of features, what we've always said for many years is that we think our interface is just much much easier, if it's not easy people don't use the features and we think we get much better utilization out of the program than the other programs.
Howard: and do you sell your software in one big chunk or is it a monthly recurring revenue is a more of a Netflix billing or is it more of a buying a TV what is the price and the terms and how does that compare the marketplace?
John: We always have the ability to purchase the software and you own it you own the license and we've never required you to pay monthly for support though the vast majority do so there's a recurring thing part of that if you want this if you want that. The pricing we do break it down to a very simple program with a single computer for $499 or we have the full-blown system that has every feature we have with the imaging bridge of a scanner bridge and all the other features and charting and everything for just under $4,000 and those are both one-time.
Howard: $4000, that's one fee for the whole office?
John: That's one fee you own it you never have to pay another penny if you don't ever want to upgrade the program but if you want to when our people our support they not only get phone support and remote control over the internet but we also include all of the updates we enhance them we put an enhancement in the program every month, every single month and it automatically gets sent out to everyone on support they just click a button and they've got the newest version and kind of over-the-air updates you've heard of Tesla with those they we've had that for a long time.
Howard: and what is support cost?
John: $99 a month, if you're on the full version of the program, we have lower amounts for the ones that have the cheaper program.
Howard: What is your typical dental office, is it one dentist five staff five terminal I mean what is your average dental office?
John: You know we see a lot more multi doctor practices than we used to. I think when we years ago 15, 20 years ago was statistic I saw is that 84 percent of dental practices were solo practices and I'm sure that number that percentage dropped dramatically I think we're probably at least a third if not half for a multi doctor practice so and we've got some that are you know quite a few some of them with 20 workstations and very very busy practices.
Howard: and so it doesn't matter if you have four chairs are 14 chairs it's still 4,000 bucks?
John: Correct yeah we don't we don't base it on how many doctors or how many chairs or any of that.
Howard: and are you got any customers as that are dsos or multiple location practices?
John: We have a number of multiple location practices yes I don't think they define themselves as a DSO because it's typically a one doctor that kind of heads up the whole thing.
Howard: Yeah the definitions are tough, their's so many words that dentists use I don't have any meaning like optimum you know like they're for optimum oral health it's like was there someone that's for sub optimum, non optimum oral health but they say they are against corporate dentistry and then I'm like whoa are you an S corp are you incorporated. I mean what oh yeah I'm an S corp associate yourself so yeah but I think of DSO is just multi-location you know group practice and so do you think that in the future as more as Group multi-location grows and single practice contracts which I'm estimating is going to level off. My,you should never make a prediction because then people will have evidence someday how dumb I am but I'm always saying it's gonna follow the lawyers there's a million lawyers half a multi group and half are solo and lawyers and dentists and physicians they're all the same they're highly educated people and half of them wants to do it their way and doing it their way gives them more life fulfillment than doing a compromised way even if they made more money they don't care. It's so cool to be a totalitarian dictator business owner where you don't have to answer to anybody right but do you think that your cloud your hybrid cloud base is gonna be more and more important for multi location as opposed to single location or not really?
John: Oh absolutely yes we have a we put that a little drop-down list on our opening screen and it drops down all the locations with one mouse click you can instantly change from one database to another, run all the reports you want look at the appointment book it just makes makes it fluid to go from any location to any other with one mouse click so yeah the hybrid cloud is a huge step up for us in terms of multi locations.
Howard: and then it's another interesting thing where when you look back at HR, you know HR is everything in my book was people time and money uncomplicated business but it's so amazingly nice when you can have a employee who's a workaholic on a Saturday if you think and I want to log into the business and run this report or check on this or check on that. I mean so how is it for at the cloud hybrid video for a dentist or stat team member at home on the weekend to log into ACE Dental Software?
John: It's exactly the same thing, we feel like our the hybrid cloud is more secure than a browser, browser you all you need is a username and password so if someone gets if the bad guy gets your username and password you're pretty much totally exposed with our hybrid cloud they have to have everyone has to have the ACE program installed on that computer and there are certain encrypted files on that computer that open up the access to the cloud. So we think we have more security than a browser-based system but once they have it installed and have a number that have a little surface pro like I have it's a great little tablet and it's fully functional with the ACE program in the cloud.
Howard: So your team members would have to download that on their home computer or most people just downloading it to a laptop where do you see the behavior of the users and then the team members of a dental office, do they carry a laptop to and from work or do they just have a home computer and they install the ACE dental software so they can work from home?
John: It's both we we we typically do the install for them but it's just a couple of mouse clicks to load the program click install and then we there like I say there are certain encrypted files that have to be in exactly the right place in order to give them the security clearance to get in so we set that up for them whether it's on a notebook they carry back and forth or on the home computer.
Howard: Well that would be perfect for after-hours emergency calls because when you get after our emergency call I always feel bad because you know somebody will say yeah you did a root canal on me Monday and then you don't want to sit there and say I don't remember your name is John Hastings I and you're saying I don't remember you from Adam but you don't insult them but if you said yeah I'm John Hastings and you did a root canal on me on Monday I want to be able to log on to my software and pull it up and see that you were there and in the minute you say well you know I don't how do you how do you spelling your name is I don't have a John Hastings in my software then it's a click and it's a hang up and then when you look at there's a hundred and sixty eight hours and a week and these dsos all have call centers that are basically answering the phone from sunup to sundown Monday through Thursday Sun up to maybe noon or 1:00 on Fridays and eight to twelve on Saturdays and their average office is getting about eleven new patients a month just by answering phone after hours and if you had this hybrid cloud solution and I mean why can't you find a stay-at-home mom a retired grandma, grandpa to work for you by having the phones referred after hours so they can talk to human I mean it's worth 11 new patients a month for the average of the people that are doing it and it sounds like your software with your hybrid cloud solution would be perfect. I mean even when you start looking at a dentists family site really you don't have a stay home sister or someone disabled retired somebody that just doesn't want to commute to work on the traffic why don't you have after the phone rings three times roll over to her and then if she could pull it up and and say thank you for calling John Hastings dental office how may I help you and you know yeah I want to get my teeth clean and that happens eleven times a month for the average office that rolls over the phones to a call center. So it looks like you are perfectly set up for the individual dentist to have a call center.
John: Telecommuting is wonderful and that's exactly what they can do with this think they can do that very very easily, especially with some kind of voice over IP like we use ringcentral we love that and...
Howard: What did you say you use?
John: We use a voice over IP system called ringcentral which I think was bought by AT&T; but they're an excellent excellent phone option for any dental practice.
Howard: and are you seeing a your dentist doing that?
John: Yeah more and more we've seen more of them go in that direction.
Howard: Ring Central, communicate collaborate connect the leading all-in-one phone team messaging and video conferencing. Now how do you guys use Ringcentral?
John: We're working with them right now a to pick up the the incoming caller ID and open up the program to that patient, that's not finished yet that's I shouldn't preanounce.
Howard: but that's the future I mean you're on if that's where it's going and this company, RingCentral they've got 3,000 employees on LinkedIn so this is no small deal so you're you're gonna make it so that when someone calls when you call me it would pull up in my e dental software John Hastings profile that's is that the main thing or what else?
John: That's the main thing we're working on that's the step one with it we may go further than that later but that's step one and we think that would be a nice enhancement.
Howard: and why are you using I'm ringcentral again?
John: We look at several of them and we found that this works best we have several employees around the country that we were telecommuting with and ringcentral was just perfect to allow us to transfer calls and talk back and forth and so it's been wonderful.
Howard: All right well what did you wish I would have talked about today that I wasn't smart enough to ask?
John: Your pretty smart I thank you covered I think you've covered everything you know you even got a pre announcement out of me that I wasn't planning on doing.
Howard: How do they contact you as they have a question I mean I know they all or anybody interested in this is because the negatives are very high amongst the existing software companies. Like I use always a joke to my buddy Chuck Cohen and Rick Cohen of Ben Co Dental you know that I said if I was you if I was Ben co or Burkhart all I was doing all my advertising is saying hey I'm not shine hey I'm not Patterson cuz there's so many people already upset I would just I wouldn't tell him anything you do differently I would just tell him you're not them just not being them. It's kind of like politicians I was talking to my boys last night about this you know they were saying who's gonna be the next president I say well I say it's nobody you know because if everybody already knows that person half the people in America don't already don't like that person, it's always late like when I was in high school a governor from your state Georgia a peanut farmer Jimmy Carter nobody in Kansas had heard of this guy so he searched with no negatives made it to the top it was the same thing with Reagan he was a he was a governor of California but no one knew him in the next state over look at Clinton nobody knew the name of the governor of Arkansas this if you're listening to me right now you don't know the name of the governor of Arkansas are the governor of Georgia unless you live in that state. So the most out of the left field I ever saw was a Barack Obama I mean a year before he was the president you couldn't find anybody the only guy I even knew that knew his name was Fred Joyal the founder of 1-800 Dentist. So I say so I tell my boys as I said I guarantee you the next president United States you don't even know who they are right now because of the negatives the way humans work and so I think your biggest advantage is that you're not shines dendrix you're not Patterson's Eaglesoft, you don't have any negatives you're an unknown peanut farmer from Georgia with a mechanical engineering degree to MBA and just being not them. It's just like the doesn't someone that when they come to you for a second opinion the only reason they're coming to you for a second opinion is because you're not the last guy that they now have an issue with. So but John I want to thank you for taking an hour out of your day to come down to the show and talk to my homies about all things dental software I do apologize to you having to live through the Atlanta Falcons blowing it in the Superbowl. How long were you depressed after that game?
John: I'm still.
Howard: Did you have to see a cardiologist? I mean I would have bet my house at half time that they had wrapped up this Super Bowl I mean just take it to the bank and then wow I never saw anything like that in the Super Bowl but hey thank you so much for coming on the show and maybe if some other year Falcons will make it all the way.
John: Next year wait till next year.
Howard: All right I'll see you on the dentaltown boards.