About the most complicated thing, you can do in your dental practice is transitioning from one dental software to another. This experience can be so traumatic to some, that quite often clinicians find themselves keeping a software that is problematic and/or expensive for fear of transitioning. Change is as uncomfortable as it is unavoidable in life. As any dental practice consultant will tell you keeping any hindering aspect of your practice, be it an employee, software, or procedure, will only end up hurting your bottom line in production, profits, and ultimately happiness.
There are several ways to switch from one practice software to another. The most popular option is the data transfer. For a fee, your new dental software provider will transfer the data from your current software’s database to their own. Like a square peg in a circle hole, there is quite a bit of work required to fit the old data in the new database. In reality, even in the best of cases, your data will never be the same again. Don’t believe me? Read the fine print on the data transfer agreement. This option is particularly harsh on accounts receivable, and quite often you will have to end up zeroing them out in the software and transferring the account balances of the previous software.
The less popular choice is a clean start. Keep both software and only transfer information over when you see a new patient. This is the less popular choice for a couple of reasons.
- The feeling that it is too much work. In reality, it is more work but nothing like what the front office staff imagines. It will be like adding one additional step in every ten that your office staff already takes. If the new software supports patient data entry, like Axex Dental and many others do, then the impact to your workflow can be far less than a 10% increase. Don’t forget that the added effort will diminish over time and eventually disappear altogether (usually in less than one year).
- Employees being dependent on the old software. This problem can be simply fixed by forbidding the entry of new data into the old system and setting a date at which the old software will be removed from all computers except one. That computer can then be used for future reference.
The pros of a clean start outnumber the possible cons. Consider these powerful reasons to start on the right foot.
- Your data will be clean. You’d be surprised how many errors can occur in software from a misplaced or unwanted coma. Remember the square peg in a round hole analogy? Entering the data as the program expects it can save you a lot of headaches down the road. Data can corrupt over time, or your data may have previously been transferred from another older software making it doubly unreliable.
- Your data will be relevant. Like a junk drawer, a database tends to collect a lot of unnecessary or odd data. Maybe the front desk person was interrupted while creating an appointment and there is now a half finished patient profile of someone you never saw. There may be dead patient files, both literal and figurative.
- Your data will be updated. People move, telephone numbers change, even health histories can change. Even if you make patients review their information with each visit, the patient or your staff may overlook a critical data point as they quickly look thru the data already entered.
So in conclusion, saving a little time now by transferring the old data from your previous software means you will spend a lot of time and effort in the future trying to find difficult to track errors on the filthy “used” database. A clean start to the database on your new software make sure you do not carry over any of the mistakes of the past and assure the information in your database will be relevant and up to date. So keep it clean and keep it simple by adding data to the new software as needed. You’ll not regret it.