Dentrix G5 Thomas Giacobbi, DDS, FAGD, Editorial Director, Dentaltown Magazine

Since this article was published in November 2012, Henry Schein has further reviewed the use of the word encryption for its Dentrix G5 product. Based on that review, Henry Schein believes that referring to it as a data masking technique using cryptographic technology would be more appropriate. Henry Schein is committed to helping its customers establish required data security and protection for the benefit of the patient and the practice. For more information, please see their recent eNewsletter article by clicking here.


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 available?

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 these apps?

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 with Dentrix?

"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- connected products.

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," said Roberts,.

When the product is complete, it will be tested and certified by Henry Schein Practice Solutions as working properly with Dentrix G5.

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 encryption?

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 access.

"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 health information.

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 management software?

"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," said Bunker.

Practice SafeGuard
Donald P. Lewis, Jr., DDS, CFE, is an expert at dealing with employee embezzlement and fraud. He has not only had the financially devastating crime happen in his practice, but has also earned the designation of "Certified Fraud Examiner" (CFE) from the Board of Regents of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. He's written many articles and books, and established PATedLLC. Practice SafeGuard, the company's first product, is dedicated to detecting embezzlement and fraud in the health-care industry.

Briefly describe your application for Dentrix G5.
Lewis: Practice SafeGuard is a financial intelligence service that has been developed for Dentrix G5 users. Practice SafeGuard is designed to detect patterns of error, negligence and potential fraudulent activity in the finances of Dentrix G5 users. Irregular entries can indicate fraud or simply errors that require additional staff training.

What is the cost for this app?
Lewis: Basic is $50/monthly monitoring. Premium is $299/six-month history + $50/monthly monitoring.

How long did it take to develop the application?
Lewis: Fraud prevention has been my passion since 1989 due to my own personal experience with embezzlement in my office. The software concept has been in development for five years with HSPS. We have major investigation experts on our board who have worked with the FBI and CIA, and our development team is headed by David E. Sems, CPA, CITP, CFF, who led financial and technology investigations with Ernst and Young for 11 years.

Do you have plans to make this program available to other practice management software platforms?
Lewis: At this time, we're with Henry Schein exclusively. The Dentrix MarketPlace is absolutely game changing and we want to be where the innovators are.

To learn more or become an early adopter, please visit PracticeSafeGuard.com.

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