Avoid the Temptation to Customize

When I was a teenager I had a sister who enjoyed baking. She would bake cakes, cookies, brownies, or whatever else struck her fancy. Sometimes we enjoyed what she had baked, but at other times the baked goods were less than enjoyable. One particular Sunday she tried again and again to make peanut butter cookies. No matter what she tried, she couldn't get the cookies to turn out right. In a house filled with three boys who loved peanut butter cookies, she took much grief from her brothers! After watching her daughter fail in making these peanut butter cookies, our mom decided to go step by step through the cookie making process to see where the problem was coming from.

As mother and daughter worked through the recipe, they got to the point in the recipe that called for sugar. My sister went again to the pantry, grabbed the sugar, and proceeded to scoop the prescribed amount out of the bag. Mother asked, "What are you doing?" Daughter responded, "Putting the sugar into the bowl." Mother said, "That is powdered sugar. You are supposed to use granulated sugar."

And a simple lesson was taught… Sometimes it is better to follow a recipe without doing any customizations. We do not always understand the impact that customizations can have on the end result.

Over the past 10 years I have had the opportunity to observe many different dental offices and how they function. The power of the Dentrix software is that it can be customized to meet the needs of any dental clinic. The wide variety of offices that use Dentrix is testament to that. With this ability to customize comes the ability to OVER-customize. Caution must be used when deciding how to set up the software for optimal use.

With all of the fields that can be customized, there is opportunity to customize so that it can be detrimental to the success of the dental clinic. The software was designed to manage the dental clinic. Tools were and continue to be added to the software that allow the end-user to be able to manage all needs of the clinic from within Dentrix. However, I have seen many offices try to out-think Dentrix and set up customizations that end up making the software complicated and impede progress instead of encourage success.

Two critical systems within Dentrix are the Insurance and Continuing Care systems. These two systems work perfectly when they are used as intended. But many clinics will customize these systems to the point that the systems no longer work. When the Insurance system is set up correctly, A/R is reduced, treatment plans are accurate, the number of billing statements goes down, insurance payments are promptly received, and the system is set up in such a way that new patients are able to be added without causing disruption to the flow of the office. When the Continuing Care is set up correctly, the process of patient retention becomes a check box on our to-do list, instead of a massive project tying up any available resource in the office. With the correct setup, both of these systems are designed to "run" themselves. The amount of time required from any person in the office is negligible.

To get to the point of "running" themselves, there is an investment of time required from the dental office. This investment is returned in the time saved as patients begin to come through Dentrix. When these systems are set up correctly, confidence is exuded from the dental team as they trust the software to do what is promised.

Avoid the temptation to add your own customizations to the software. At times customizations are needed. However, before customizations are made, be sure to understand all implications of the pending changes. With a known end result in mind, consult with Dentrix Technical Support, Dentrix trainers, or the Dentrix coaching team before making a change that can, at times, be difficult and time consuming to correct. There is always time to do the job right the first time.

Author: Jason McKnight
Published: 06/15/2010
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