Dental practice management software is in the midst of an
interesting evolution. The dental profession is frequently criticized
for being behind the times when it comes to technology.
In recent times, there is an interest in software as a service (SaaS)
via companies such as Curve Dental, MOGO and Dentisoft, to
name a few. Now Dentrix is making a change to turn its dominant
software into a platform similar to the mobile operating
systems of today. The newest version of Dentrix, dubbed G5, is
now designed to work as a platform that would allow third-party
developers to write applications that will be compatible with the
software and, in some cases, allow the application to modify the
database. Dentaltown Magazine recently interviewed members
of the Dentrix team about this new initiative.
When will Dentrix users be able to purchase these new apps?
At the Greater New York Dental Meeting this month, Henry
Schein Practice Solutions will officially launch "Dentrix
MarketPlace," an online store for purchasing Dentrix G5-connected
applications and other Dentrix-related products and
services. It's similar to Apple's AppStore, which sells applications
designed for the iPhones and iPads.
"When Dentrix MarketPlace launches, it will be the start of
what will become a large one-stop shop for new, exciting apps
that extend the power of Dentrix throughout the practice," said
Kevin Bunker, President and GM of Henry Schein Practice
Solutions. "Dentrix MarketPlace will also be available to vendors
of books, training services and other non-integrated applications
that benefit the Dentrix digital practice."
Where do they go to find the apps that are currently
Until Dentrix MarketPlace eStore launches, Dentrix users
can visit: www.Dentrix.com/G5 to learn more about Dentrix
G5 and companies that have already launched integrated products
for Dentrix G5.
How much are companies likely to charge for
The price for all of these products will vary. It really depends
on the vendor and the robustness of its product. Some companies
have developed large, comprehensive solutions, such as
Intuit's Demandforce or DEXIS's integrator for Dentrix, that
tightly integrate with Dentrix G5. Other companies and independent
developers are producing smaller programs, such as
apps that simply add a new feature or report in Dentrix.
When apps are advertised outside of Dentrix
MarketPlace, how can I know if they are compatible
"To identify Dentrix G5-compatible products, Dentrix users
simply need to look for the 'Dentrix G5-Connected' logo on the
products' advertising and packaging," said Michael Allsop,
Director of Marketing for Henry Schein Practice Solutions. "A 'Dentrix G5-Connected' logo on the product means Dentrix
users can purchase it with confidence knowing it will work
properly with their current version, as well as future upgrade
versions of Dentrix. When users install Dentrix upgrades, they
won't have to worry that their other integrated apps will break
and disrupt their practice." Dentrix users can also visit
Dentrix.com/G5 to see the current list of certified Dentrix G5-
If a dentist wants to develop an app of his own and
sell it in your MarketPlace, what is the process? Is
there a cost to become an app provider?
The first step to developing a Dentrix-integrated app is
joining the Dentrix Developer Program at Dentrix.com/DDP
and submitting a product idea. If the idea is approved, the
developer receives a software development kit with tools, such
as the Dentrix Application Programming Interface (API) and
the Dentrix product itself for testing.
"Providing developers a genuine application development
platform with proper tools also makes it easier for developers of
any skill level to build valuable integrated apps for Dentrix,"
said Steve Roberts, Director of Product Management, Henry
Schein Practice Solutions. "Now any dentist can hire a local
developer, give him our developer kit and quickly customize his
own Dentrix system to meet his unique needs."
"Since these developers will have early access to our API,
they can release new versions of their app each time we release
new versions of Dentrix. Ultimately, this benefits our users
because they can feel confident that their third-party applications
will be compatible with their future versions of Dentrix,"
When the product is complete, it will be tested and certified
by Henry Schein Practice Solutions as working properly with
Developers of certified products can sell their applications
on Dentrix MarketPlace and leverage the Dentrix Marketing
resources and communication vehicles in return for sharing a
portion of their sales revenue. "Similar to Apple developers who
sell their products on the AppStore, Dentrix app developers
will keep 67 percent of all revenue generated from Dentrix
MarketPlace," Bunker said.
The Dentrix Developer Program charges an annual fee,
ranging from $250 to $5,000 depending on whether the product
will be used in-office only, sold by the vendor's sales force
or sold on Dentrix MarketPlace with its revenue-share model.
Developers can also expect to pay a fee between $250 and $500
for each product certification.
I understand that not all developers have the same
access to the Dentrix database when they write applications. Please explain the limitations that exist
and the reasons for providing an uneven playing field.
While our move to make Dentrix an application platform
is unprecedented in the dental industry, Henry Schein is taking
a measured approach to approving developers and their
level of access to the database for a number of reasons. "Like
most other dental distributor companies, Henry Schein has
long-standing strategic partnerships we will continue to
honor," said Roberts. "If Henry Schein grants a software vendor
access to our sales and marketing channels, we will support
their rights, even if it means limiting the access of another
developer with a similar product.
"Also, as is typical of complex business arrangements, there
will be times when we cooperate with third-party software developers
and times when we compete with them. If a product
directly competes with one of our products, we may exclude
them from the Dentrix Developer Program," Roberts said.
"Ultimately, we are committed to creating the best platform
for integrating third-party applications that, working together,
create the best, most complete solutions for our joint customers."
The new version of Dentrix includes database encryption.
Is the current database without encryption?
What are the risks?
Prior to Dentrix G5, the database was unencrypted. "It was
standard architecture when it was released years ago, but database
technology has progressed significantly since then,"
Roberts said. "Dentrix versions prior to G5 relied on the underlying
Microsoft operating system and file system safeguards to
protect user data. Unfortunately these were rarely activated by
default, and if practices failed to turn them on, their data were
at risk to hackers."
With Dentrix G5's embedded SQL database, users have
the advanced protection they need without
burdening them with another
system to manage.
What are the advantages of the new SQL database
Dentrix G5 stores information in a SQL database, which
delivers several distinct benefits to our users. Most importantly,
it has significantly improved the speed of data access
and overall performance of the system. This is because individual
computers no longer manage their own access to the
Dentrix database on the server. Instead, the SQL database will
handle requests from computers and centrally manage database
"This not only increases speed and performance, especially
in large practices with multiple clients, it eliminates the need to
frequently rebuild the database, which has made many Dentrix
users happy," Roberts said.
"The SQL database also offers improved data security by storing
and transmitting patient data in an encrypted format,"
Roberts said. "With healthcare professionals under strict regulatory
obligations to protect their patients' personal health information,
Dentrix G5 provides an important line of defense for both
patient and dentist."
Unauthorized applications that attempt to directly access
the Dentrix database are denied access, protecting personal
Does this encryption mean that I will not be allowed
to transfer my data to a competitor's practice
management software if I should choose to switch
in the future?
"Henry Schein is committed to delivering quality service to
our dentists and would never lock them into a solution," said
Bunker. "Dentrix G5 users now benefit from the added security
of database encryption, but we will decrypt the Dentrix database
should users ever request it. It is their data."
What is your future vision for the category of practice
"Henry Schein believes the practice management system
should eventually integrate all of the practice's technology
into one office network. As new technology and equipment
is introduced into the practice, the practice management system
should manage those workflows as well. Practice technology
should all be simplified and connected. Whether
it is digital X-ray tools, Apple iPads, touch-based kiosks
or digital impressions systems, the practice management
system should be the core that manages this workflow,"