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Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
Instructor/Consultant
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Dental Software Knowledge and Hiring Right
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

Eaglesoft, Dentrix, Softdent, PracticeWorks, Denticon, Practice Web, QSI, Perioexec, Curve…and the list includes another 130 plus different dental software programs on the market today. It is a virtual minefield of dental software programs for the dentist to pick his/her way through. Once the decision has been made and the program is running the daily schedule and all other tasks associated with management of data - from posting payments to tracking treatment acceptance - it becomes highly important that the staff know the software to the extent applicable to their job description and position requirements.

Many dentists do not know how to navigate through the software program that is managing the important data in their practice, yet they require the business staff to be proficient. This puts them at a disadvantage because they have no way to measure the employees’ skill. It also puts them at a disadvantage in hiring the best staff for their practice, because they will not consider a qualified applicant unless they have this particular software skill. Research shows that there are misconceptions about how long it should take to learn a software program. As a result, many dentists don’t want to take the time for a new hire to learn the program but want someone already trained to step right in and take over. Studying trends in job posts on major sites it is noted in post after post “must have Dentrix G4 training” or “don’t apply unless you are proficient at Eaglesoft.” Suppose the great person you are looking for has been in a practice for six years and used Practiceworks proficiently. From the job post it appears that his/her resume will be deleted for lack of necessary skills.

It is unquestionable that having the skills necessary in the right dental software will put you way ahead of the pack of job applicants. On the downside, it can limit the number of positions the applicant can be considered for. Dentists surveyed are leery of paying for software training on new hires because if it doesn’t work out they leave with a new skill and the dentist has to start the search over again. If the burden of paying for software training was put on the new hire, perhaps things would be viewed differently. For instance, if you do not have an existing employee that can train a new hire and you have to hire a professional software trainer, you could ask that the new hire pay for part or all of the training to be reimbursed after six months of employment. After the six-month period, the dentist would then pay for future software training.

Personnel working in dental practice management say that once you are proficient in one system, it is easy to learn another. The main challenge is matching the icons to the window you need to open and the key-strokes to get to the information you are looking for. This will take usually about a week to learn the basics such as scheduling and posting and another week or less to learn the more advanced areas such as sending electronic claims with attachments, merging letters and insurance check posting. Other computer skills often overlooked in the hiring process and important to the growth of the practice are:

Microsoft Word, a program that is part of Microsoft Office. This program allows the business coordinator to create documents, letters, faxes, labels, envelopes and can format text and graphics to add a professional appearance to the document.

Microsoft Excel, (Microsoft Office) a spreadsheet tool that allows you to track large amounts of numerical data into rows and columns and convert that data into graphs and charts. 

Microsoft PowerPoint (Microsoft Office) allows you to develop interesting and interactive presentations. This is a skill in demand, especially in offices that want to educate and promote their practices to the outside world in seminars and other education applications.

Adobe Photoshop is a graphics editing software that can help you to create designs for marketing products. Photoshop allows you to create images or manipulate existing images such as those taken with digital cameras. You can paint, retouch and add drawings to existing images with this program.

For a successful and profitable dental practice, the dentist and the team must continue to learn about and implement the new changes in their dental software programs. 

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’sTraining Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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