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Exclusive Q&A: How to Know if Dentrix Enterprise is Right for Your Organization

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Dentrix Enterprise has a clear mission: to empower dental offices to accomplish more and earn more. For nearly 2 decades, the Dentrix team has worked to continuously improve the program for large dental organizations. Whether you are a government institution with complex needs or a growing group practice with mulitple locations, a common question arises: How do you know if Dentrix Enterprise is right for your organization?  Dental Product Shopper caught up with Vance Taylor,  Dentrix Enterprise National Sales Manager at Henry Schein, to find out more: 

DPS: For those who are unfamiliar with the suite of products, what is Dentrix Enterprise and who uses it?  

VT: Dentrix Enterprise serves some pretty distinct market segments with the same basic platform. In the private, or for-profit space, Dentrix Enterprise primarily serves all group practices, from the small, emerging groups, all the way up to large DSOs, and everything in between, as a centralization tool for practice management. On the non-profit, public sector side, Dentrix Enterprise is also one of the most commonly used electronic dental records for federally qualified health centers, CHCs, Free Clinics, and children’s hospitals. We were also recently chosen as the dental practice management system of choice under a contract with  the Department of Defense , as well as under contracts with the California Department of Corrections, and a few other  state correctional departments. The application has a unique feature set for reporting, compliance, and reimbursements for those segments as well.

DPS: When do dentists typically know (or when should they realize) that it’s time to centralize their practice management?

VT: Unfortunately, it’s like how we treat our personal health sometimes. We don’t take the necessary steps until there’s sufficient “pain” to motivate the change. In a lot of cases, that step happens for dentists when they’re running a distributed model, where they have a separate database running in a silo at each location, and they can’t get aggregated reports, or they’re moving patients back and forth between locations on a regular basis. There’s a level of pain for their staff who have to manually aggregate data and manually move records around between databases.  So that’s when they start to say, “There has to be a better way. Why can’t we just have all of this in one location that we can access centrally?” 

But I will say that with the shift in the marketplace towards group practice and the DSO model that’s been intensifying over the past 3 years, I think dentists are becoming more educated about it. Henry Schein, for example, has an entire, year-long program dedicated to helping single or small group practices form DSOs. I think the marketplace is getting smarter and more educated on the need for centralization, for creating economics of scale as they grow, as well as the group practice model in general. So we are seeing more proactivity out of the dental space where instead of looking for alleviation to current pain, rather they’re proactively looking for a vehicle to facilitate a growth plan, or a vision or business model.

DPS: When dentists look at Dentrix Enterprise, what feature(s) usually excite them the most?  

VT: A lot of it can depend on what system they’re coming from because then you get down to not only the feature-to-feature differences but also the overarching differences in the model. The real “aha” moments come when they can run one, simple report and see a subtotal for each location and/or provider, and aggregated data for the organization as a whole, all right there at the same time. That’s something they’ve been doing manually up until now. Another “aha” comes from having a single patient/single provider record. The provider can walk into any office in the organization, log in, and have the exact same access, settings, and configuration as he or she would have in their home office. A patient can then be seen 12 months later at a different location, and all of his/her clinical history, medical history, financials and x-rays will all be there. Once they see how they can alleviate the “pain,” those are “aha” moments.

For the other side of the coin, where we talked about the dentists looking to proactively build a specific type of group practice model, there are “aha” moments around the economies of scale that centralization creates for them. They start crunching the numbers, and they realize with these tools that they can manage the billing cycle for 3 locations with a single member of a centralized operations team. Then they just start multiplying out the human capital and the ongoing savings from creating a lean business model. They’ll also have a centralized schedule where they can see all the openings in a region on a single book, and they’re not logging into multiple different databases, one at a time, to find an available appointment.

DPS: So they’re learning as they go and as they grow.

VT: Yes, exactly. It allows them to re-envision their business model, and one of the things we talk about with our customers is that Dentrix Enterprise isn’t the solution for every multi-site dental practice or organization. In order to take advantage of the Dentrix Enterprise offering, you have to be an Enterprise-class business. It does become an “aha” moment for them because they either have determined that they are not in this class, or they’re determined that they are, or they didn’t know before and just in this moment decided they’re going to be. And they’re going to change their model to take advantage of these features because otherwise there’s just no ROI in it.

DPS: Is there an underutilized or less “talked-about” feature of Dentrix Enterprise that practices need to consider?    

VT: A lot of your traditional practice management systems utilize a basic first-in-first-out accounting for the patient ledger, which means there are no direct links or allocations between credits and debits that you can actually follow through and trace back through the patients’ history. It can be really hard to figure out where a patient’s balance comes from. It can lead to a misalignment or it can be difficult to figure out because those direct allocations aren’t there. But that’s what the bulk of practice management systems out there offer to the single-office practitioner because they typically just don’t need (or demand) that level of sophistication on the accounting side. So one of the nice things about Dentrix Enterprise that’s definitely a game changer for a lot of organizations is that you have down-to-the-penny, line-item accounting and every cent of every credit gets allocated to a specific balance, and the balance is attached to the provider of record. So you get this direct flow-through so you never have a negative balance in your Provider accounts receivable. It sounds simple but it makes a huge difference for customers who are converting from these traditionally distributed practice management systems.

Secondly, as far as an unknown feature, or something that really makes the lightbulb go on for these organizations, Dentrix Enterprise is built on an open-architecture SQL database, and even though it really requires more advanced technical infrastructure when you implement it, the net result is an open-architecture access to all of your data. We provide our customers with a database dictionary that allows them to mine their data. So in addition to all the reports we provide, full read access to our database is granted to our customers. They can do their own queries, their own dashboard, and their own reporting—all from one, central system.

DPS: Looking ahead to 2017, are there any new developments for Dentrix Enterprise you can share?  

VT: 2017 looks to be our biggest year yet for upgrades and feature enhancements! There is a lot  on the roadmap that we’re not ready to disclose just yet, but I’d definitely recommend that your readers sign up for the newsletter and updates from the Dentrix Enterprise website to ensure they’re first to know! 

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