Best Dental Practice Management Tools—Consulting, Software, or Both?

Consulting coach standing outside at a sports event

Does optimizing your dental practice management come down to solid software, stellar coaching, or both? This is a common question for dentists who are taking a closer look at consulting for their practice and recognizing a need for change.

Whether it comes down to trying to save money, a reluctance to involve a stranger in their business, or simply a great software vendor sales pitch, there are many dentists out there who choose practice management software as their first attempt to solve practice problems.

But is software the magical be-all, end-all solution? Could a coach be more helpful? Let’s dissect these questions together.

Can an Office Thrive with Dental Practice Management Software Alone?

Many dental management software programs promise to revolutionize your practice:

“In-depth analytics and reporting!”

“Enhance the patient experience!”

“Automate your marketing!”

Practice management software will solve some issues for you. It can help you:

  • Know when to send patient reminders
  • Track billing
  • Manage patient data and progress
  • Organize files
  • Track goals and detect problems

It truly is an important part of solid, successful practice management. However, software remains a tool that is only optimized if used in tandem with a business-minded philosophy that helps your team and furthers your practice goals.

Frankly, if the most common problems in running a dental office could be solved by software, there would not be a NextLevel Practice. Why is that? Your current results may be the answer. Unless you are keeping entire file cabinets of notes and a physical Rolodex of patient addresses and phone numbers, your team already uses computers and software to get their work done. With these processes already in place, are you getting the results you want? Are you growing your revenue, socking away money for retirement, and generating consistent case acceptance with your chosen platform?

If the answer is no, it’s because you’re recognizing the truth in the consulting versus software debate: Software is not the solution — it’s a tool to implement your strategy. And that’s where a dental practice management consultant comes in.

What Does a Dental Consultant Do for Your Practice that Practice Management Software Cannot?

A dental practice management consultant has a honed skill set designed to help you create a cohesive, profitable dental business. Their sole job is to help you achieve your goals — and sometimes even help you create them. Whether you want to retire comfortably, create a saleable practice, or increase revenue, a consultant’s purpose is to support you, provide guidance, and make recommendations about how to move forward.

Dental practice management software is still an important part of the consulting process. Again, however, it operates as a tool to provide the consultant with information about the health of your practice. Those fancy charts and metrics promised by your dental software vendor do serve a purpose when included as part of a broader strategy.

For example, if you’ve noticed a decline in revenue, your software can usually help you find the source of the problem. Maybe after a close examination of your records, you notice a pattern that fewer and fewer cases are being accepted for months on end. The obvious answer is to increase case acceptance, but the software doesn’t exactly tell you how to do it. Instead, you have to look to outside expertise–a human who can sit down with you, examine the data and current methods, and offer solutions.

Continuing the aforementioned scenario, a consultant can first observe your treatment plan presentation and provide constructive feedback. They might ask questions such as:

  • Do you, the dentist, manage case acceptance or do you have a treatment coordinator?
  • Are cases closed in the chair or in a separate space?
  • Is everyone on the team aware of, and invested in, how you present treatment plans?
    How do patients react to the treatment plans?
    How do you determine what treatments are most important?
    Have you established a baseline of health for your patients and team?

As you can see, this is completely different from what a software program can offer you. Yes, it can help you detect issues. It can even help you hone in on the specific pain point. But it just cannot detect the subtle human interactions that are causing the decline.

What’s the Final Answer? Is It Software or Consulting?

The definitive answer is that dental practice management benefits from both software and consulting. The important takeaway in this dissection of the debate is to distinguish the different roles that the two play in helping you run your practice.

Software: A means to facilitate your practice strategy, stay organized, detect pain points, and track practice health and growth.
Consulting: Expert strategic guidance from an outside party focused solely on achieving your goals for success.

If you’re looking for a new way to work smarter, not harder, in your dental practice, and want to achieve the work-life balance you need to be the best dentist you can be to your patients, consulting a dental practice management coach may be the game changer you need to bring it all — your business, strategy and tools — into a cohesive operation.

If you’re looking for the strategy and expertise that a coach or consultant can bring, NextLevel Practice can help. Give us a call for a free, personalized coaching session that can help you determine the next steps you need to supercharge your practice.