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Switching software in your office is a big decision to make, especially if your existing software isn’t fulfilling the needs of your clinic, or if you need software that is more innovative and doesn’t leave you waiting in long queues for answers.  

Moving forward, it’s important to understand the challenges that come with switching. It is a big endeavor that requires a lot of consideration, patience, and time. Set your expectations for this process accordingly. If someone tells you that this process is a simple and fast one, they are not being honest. Switching software is a lengthy and arduous journey that may come with moments of frustration and exhaustion. 

However, to remove a few of the bumps on this journey, you will need to do a few things: Research, involve your staff, consider the amount of time consumed, and prepare yourself for the headache of conversion. 

It is important that by the end of the journey, one crucial question is answered to your satisfaction: Is switching software worth it? Or would it benefit your office more to just continue using your old software?  

Do your research 

If you are ready to take the next step in the process of switching, then you will need to do your research on what types of software are out there and what they can do for your practice. You and your team are well aware of what is needed for your practice to run smoothly, and each practice management software has its own advantages and disadvantages. Look at cost versus quality. If a software is more expensive but does not have the tools you need or has tools that you will never use, you might want to keep looking. A high cost does not necessarily mean you are getting a product that works for you.  

Get your staff involved 

Getting your staff involved in this big decision will make the transition to new software much easier. Ask them what they are looking for in practice management software. Are they spending too much time on their mundane tasks? Are they having to wait in ridiculously long queues before their technical issues are addressed? Do they want something more up to date and innovative? What will address their specific needs? 

Avoid the pushback from your staff by including them in the decision-making process. Gather opinions and discuss the decision and what would work better for the team. If you are new and are preparing to switch software, get to know your team first, familiarize yourself with them and ask them what they need to make their jobs easier.  

Get ready for a lengthy conversion 

An imperative part of the process also just happens to be the longest – conversion. First off, converting your data from one software to another requires time and patience. This part of switching might feel like a deal-breaker, but it is necessary to identify items that might not convert and will need to be added manually. This will save you time when switching to digital. 

When it comes to converting, because all software programs store data differently, there is a chance that not all your data will convert. However, this doesn’t mean that data is gone. A copy of the database is created keeping original data secure and a test is run to see what can be converted and what can’t. 

This part of the process also identifies possible bad habits the staff may have developed and will improve workflow, including accessing income that may have been hiding in your charts all along.  

Converting the imaging program 

Because taking images is a crucial task in the dental office, it is imperative to consider the following questions when it comes to conversion: 

  • Are you going to keep your existing imaging program or purchase a new one?  
  • Does the new software connect in the same manner as your existing? 
  • Can the new software bridge to your new program? 
  • Will images be converted to the new program or be left in the original? 

Converting to the charting program 

The same goes for your charts. Are your chart notes converting properly to the new software? If the answer is no, then make a note of all the items that will need to be added manually into the new software. 

Is switching software worth the hassle? 

The answer is not as simple as yes or no, which is why it is important to consider all the aspects that go into the process of switching. It isn’t easy, at times it might even be frustrating for you and your staff. But, once you have arrived at your destination after such a long and arduous journey, does the new software provide you with all the tools you need to run your clinic more smoothly? Will you and your staff be happier? Does the new software you specifically picked out when doing the research reduce your stress and make it easier to work? 

If, after reading this, you decide you want to go ahead, then you are ready to start the journey to new software that works better for you and your staff. And if you set realistic expectations, once you reach your destination, it will all be worth it.