Almost all dental practices use more than one software system, and often an imaging system as well. Some practices also have instant messaging, digital radiography, scheduling, charting, patient reminder and other software systems. Connecting all the software to provide a smooth, easy user experience is the dream. However, each of those software systems must have interfaces to transfer data and access information and attachments.
During implementation of a practice management or clinical system, dental practices need to be aware of the specifications and accepted data formats for each system they plan to interface. Getting all of the ducks in order demands that the most important software (often imaging and clinical) be tested thoroughly to ensure that data moves easily and well between them. Otherwise, a well-installed system that does not connect to other necessary software can cause an office to go haywire and productivity to plummet.
While consulting with healthcare organizations, I’ve seen software interfaces take a backseat to program installation. Starting to test and implement interfaces late in the day can lead to ongoing and difficult to resolve problems. Consider the key software interfaces prior to implementation and test their functionality from the start of the project.
Some key points for dentists to keep in mind during software installation:
- Find out if the proposed software have interfaced before, and how long that took.
- For each software product, is there a commitment and a designated person to ensure that the interface works?
- Who do you contact when an image is difficult to transfer?
- If you have interface questions, who provides support?
- Start testing interfaces early and often during implementation.
Michael Uretz is a thirty-year healthcare IT veteran and nationally-recognized Electronic Health Records (EHR) and healthcare software expert.