Australian dental practice management software developer, Core Practice, has appointed well-known industry identity, Mark Burns, as its new CEO to oversee the rapid uptake the solution is enjoying as practices look at how to become more efficient and grow using technology.
"Core Practice is a great Australian owned, developed and supported software solution that is perfectly suited to the contemporary dental practice," Mr Burns said. "My previous role with Dentsply Sirona meant I was fully abreast of the changing ways technology is being used in dental practices today to drive efficiency and profitability. So when I looked for my next role, Core Practice was a perfect fit.
"Core Practice is a cloud-based practice management software solution, so it's perfect for dentists who work from multiple locations or who just want to look at tomorrow's appointments on their smartphone at home. It has all the features you'd expect from practice management software but goes much further with ways to automate processes that result in greater efficiencies. It's more of a CRM system than just a way to keep the appointment book and patient records in order."
Support for growing practices
Mr Burns said that the number of new customers signing up for Core Practice is growing steadily and whilst some of these are brand new start-ups, many are conversions from users of older software programs that are no longer being developed or aren't keeping pace with the features that state-of-the-art practices demand.
"The main reason I'm finding that dentists are choosing Core Practice is because it's such a practice builder," he said. "The technology in Core Practice allows you to fully capitalise on all the information that you enter into the software on a day-to-day basis by allowing you to use it to grow your practice.
"So, for example, you can find all patients with extracted teeth, then send them an email or SMS promoting dental implant treatment. The message can include a link to book an appointment online that connects directly with your appointment book and allows the patient to book into time slots that you've allotted for that purpose. And all this can be completed autonomously 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
"You no longer need to task your team to suddenly down tools and start calling patients all day to chase up incomplete treatment when your book is looking empty. Core Practice will take care of that on an ongoing basis. Using Core Practice in this way also ensures that patients are continually reminded that they have a problem that should be treated."
Mr Burns said that some dentists may find this concept ludicrous, mainly because they could never imagine booking a dental appointment in this way, or they think it would never appeal to their patients.
"Dentists with established practices are often skeptical of offering innovations like online bookings and automated messaging, but equally, they value research. When we explain that once introduced by some practices, 60-70% of patients prefer to book online, it's hard to dismiss at least having it as an option."
Patients are driving demand
Mr Burns said dental practices were also initially wary of technology like HICAPS when it was first introduced but its use quickly became widespread based on convenience, efficiency and patient demand. Accepting bookings through your website is no different.
"I ask dentists to imagine that the next time their book is showing too much white space in coming weeks, how easy Core Practice makes it to fill that space with high quality treatment with very little effort. And I can tell you from even the short time I've been with Core Practice, that this is working extremely well for our customers.
"This type of interaction with every type of business using technology is how the world is evolving. Patients want to connect with you online, see their options and book treatment at midnight on a weekend when they're sitting on the couch at home and suddenly have time. In fact, it can make your practice less appealing if these options aren't available."
Capitalising on your "goodwill"
When you're buying or selling a practice, it's all about the value of the goodwill. But practically speaking, what exactly is that?
"In essence, the information you store in your practice management software should allow the quantification of this valuable commodity called goodwill," Mr Burns said. "You have to be able to unlock this value easily and use it to grow your practice. Treatment presented but not undertaken and incomplete treatment has a value that you are not realising and it also means there are patients with functional and aesthetic concerns needing resolution on your books. This is one area where Core Practice ensures your patients are reminded and your appointment book is kept busy. It's facilitating a win-win."
Mr Burns said that the technology used in Core Practice that connects patient needs with the ability to book online is allowing practices to become more efficient, more profitable and better at managing patient care.
Front desk efficiencies
Core Practice offers multiple ways to communicate with patients that also save time and money.
"Confirming appointments is the bane of every front desk person, so Core Practice helps to make this process simpler too," Mr Burns said. "The software will automatically send patients a 2-way SMS to remind them they have an upcoming appointment and then record the patient's response directly into the appointment book. From experience, this process confirms over 80% of appointments. The remaining 20% of patients can then be called by the front desk team, freeing up a large block of staff time.
"The front desk team also spends a lot of time entering information into any practice management system. For instance, once the patient completes the medical history, the information has to be manually keyed into the computer. Core Practice tackles this issue by sending the patient a link to an electronic medical history form that they complete before they arrive for their appointment. The information on the form is automatically stored in their patient record and is eminently more thorough and complete than when it is hastily done in the waiting room."
Any device, any time
Core Practice is cloud-based and this allows anyone in the practice with the appropriate access to use the software on their smartphone, tablet or computer wherever there is an internet connection. If a patient calls with an emergency after hours, you can check their records online, book them in for treatment and record the conversation in your notes on the spot.
"Core Practice is also designed to exploit touch screen devices, like smartphones, tablets and touch sensitive computer screens," Mr Burns said. "This simplifies charting for instance as it can be done without a keyboard or mouse.
"Another nice feature is the treatment planning. If someone wants Invisalign, you simply click on Invisalign and it automatically puts in the 12 appointments for the patient and splits it by way of item code for the health fund claim. And then you can email that treatment plan directly to the patient.
"Core Practice also offers voice-to-text note taking. We're all about having multiple options to complete various tasks, so apart from voice-to-text, we also have a way to fast track typing your notes through using standard descriptions and phrases that can be quickly combined to describe each unique situation. So for a standard endo procedure, you may have the choice of 10 clicks or taps to be able to do your note taking, rather than manually typing what is essentially quite similar information for every single patient. So it gives you a lot more flexibility with options based around how you like to work that make your life easier."
Real time quoting
Core Practice can also enable real time quoting whereby the patient can instantly see their out-of-pocket costs for treatment and then pay on the spot.
"We've just signed an exclusive agreement with a business called Medipass that will help solve a common problem practices face," Mr Burns said. "Traditionally, when you have a patient in the chair, they may need a root canal and a crown and you would have to say, 'Well depending on which health funds you're using, it may cost you somewhere between three and four and a half thousand dollars'. But with this exclusive affiliation with Medipass, it allows us to offer accurate in-chair quoting. We know your health fund and we know if there is a component covered under Medicare, so you can press a button on that treatment plan and know exactly how much it's going to cost while the patient is still in the chair. Then, if they want to proceed, you can send that through to their mobile phone for immediate payment."
Competition driving change
Practice management software is no longer just a way of storing appointments and patient information. Software like Core Practice is utilising the latest technology to increase the efficiency and profitability of dental practices in ways never before seen.
"I would probably categorize changing from an old-school software package to Core Practice something akin to changing from film to digital x-ray," Mr Burns said. "Core Practice allows you to do so much more than ever before.
"And if you already have a practice management system and want to upgrade to the state-of-the-art, then chances are, we can bring your data into Core Practice. The benefits of running with a cloud-based practice management system that works anywhere and on any device are more than worth the trouble of changing.
"As dentistry becomes more and more competitive, practices have to get smarter and more efficient in the way they operate. At every level, Core Practice can help."