Akey part of running a successful dental practice in the remote NSW town of Broken Hill is to ensure every product-purchase decision results in greater efficiencies and reliability for the operation of the practice.
"When we built the new practice 10 years ago, we went out and did an analysis of all the practice management software packages on the market," said principal Dr Greg Cocks. "At that time, we concluded that Dental4Windows was the most advanced, reliable and best supported system on the market.
"Working in Broken Hill, every product purchase decision must be carefully considered for not only the benefits it can deliver on face value, but also how reliable that product is long term and how training, maintenance and repairs will be managed. We are literally a long way from anywhere and if it fails, we need to know it will be fixed fast.
"Dental4Windows has never let us down, but even so, there is a need to benchmark every aspect of your practice continually to ensure you are making the most of the efficiencies that can be gained from new innovation. Hence, a decade after installing D4W, we revisited the practice management software requirements of the practice during the ADA Congress in Perth in 2009. After reviewing all the products on the market, we walked away confident with the decision we'd made 10 years ago."
The Dental Practice at Broken Hill subsequently upgraded to the latest version 11 of Dental4Windows which includes a number of new features.
"The training and support offered by Centaur Software is always outstanding," Dr Cocks said. "When we decided to upgrade to version 11, their training manager Sina Burgo came out to Broken Hill and arranged for 20 laptop computers and set them up in a venue separate to the practice. All our staff then participated in a full day of training on all the new features of the software.
"It is this commitment to training and support that is the key to their success and from our perspective, essential if you want to get the most out of the product."
Dr Cocks said that clinically, version 11 has two very impressive new modules. One is Document Manager and the other is called Media Suite.
"Document manager allows us to manage all patient documentation entirely within Dental4Windows and is a giant leap towards a paperless practice. We can scan in letters and hand-written forms and everyone in the practice then has access to everything. With Medicare coming into dentistry, there are some onerous reporting requirements and Document Manager helps with all of these. It allows you to manage a lot of different and disparate referral sources in one system.
"We have also been using Sirona's Galileos 3D cone beam technology for over 12 months now. When we first started using that system, we approached Centaur Software to see if they could come up with a system that would allow us to link all of the digital imaging sources we have in one system.
"I'm sure other people were looking for that as well and the result is the new Media Suite. It's an open platform image management module that manages intra and extraoral x-rays, video and stills all from within Dental4Windows. It also allows us to use thumbnail images of these in the charting system which is a feature unique to this product."
Dr Cocks uses several software packages to view the various types of digital imagery available in the practice. Sirona's Sidexis software is used for panoramic xray images while 3D cone beam radiographs are managed by either Sirona's Galaxis or Dolphin Imaging software; Schick's CDR software manages intraoral x-rays; and Cygnus Media manages intraoral camera images.
"We have a number of different software packages to view and manipulate all the various digital imaging technologies in the practice, however they will soon all be managed by the Dental4Windows Media Suite. When the patient comes in, you can see everything in their record. It makes the day to day chairside routine so much easier for the dental assistants and at the front desk, the dismissal, referral and reappointing is far easier."
Dr Cocks said that even though the practice is located far from the capital cities, Centaur Software have provided excellent support over the past 10 years.
"If there is ever a problem with Dental4Windows, they dial in and fix it very quickly," he said. "Centaur are a very professional company and very customer focussed. The business is run by a dentist who has people in place who know how to deal with dentists.
"They also actively seek our feedback. Every upgrade and new version is based on customer feedback and Media Suite is a prime example of that. They have also introduced many other features like a fancy SMS for patient communication, many appointment book enhancements and there is a 'clock on and clock off' feature to monitor staff attendance including breaks which is fantastic in a large practice. The integration with HICAPs (and soon Medicare Easyclaim) is also invaluable and saves our financial controller an enormous amount of time.
"Other systems also have many of these features and some systems may even do some things better than Dental4Windows, but as far as the way it is put together overall and the training and support behind it, it is a very good package and I am happy to endorse them at the highest level."