How Much Does Dental Practice Management Software Cost?
For a more efficient front office operation, many dental offices choose to implement a dental practice management software system. It automates a variety of time-consuming administrative tasks, improving the efficiency and productivity of your office.
Whether this is your first time purchasing management software, or you're looking to upgrade your current system, your chosen practice management software (PMS) should do the following:
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- Generate reports
- Maintain chart records
- Manage scheduling
- Track and collect billing information
- Track patient demographics, medical history, and visits
- Verify insurance benefits
- Write prescriptions
In addition to price and features, you also want to look at the type of support your chosen vendor offers.
Choosing the Right System
The first choice you need to make in choosing your system is whether you want a cloud-based or self-hosted system. Generally speaking, cloud-based is less expensive and works well for small- and medium-sized practices. Larger practices typically require a software-based system. You want a vendor that offers solid technical support to protect your practice and patient information in the event of a problem.
The system itself needs to handle a variety of tasks. The front office and clinical tools of the system should provide scheduling capabilities, including a patient reminder feature. In addition, the system should handle billing and insurance tasks, with features like coding and claims management.
Tools to update and maintain patient charts help ensure accuracy of data. Also, a variety of patient charts, such as periodontal charts, is a nice feature to include. Finally, you want the ability to include notes about progress and treatment.
Practice Management Software Features
PMS systems come with a wide variety of features. Some are must-haves while others belong on the "does nothing for my practice but increase the bill" list. The majority of systems include the basic things you need, but make sure yours includes:
- File sharing
- Mobile access
- Data backup
- Instant messaging (allows easy communication between workstations)
- Reporting capabilities
- Training resources
You need quick, simple access to tech support, such as live chats or email options. Help at the end of a phone call is also necessary. Check out the vendor's website, as well, to see if they offer information and solutions on the more common technical issues. You want numerous ways to solve a technical problem before resorting to calling in an IT person, which often comes with a $200 per hour price tag.
Average Costs of Practice Management Software
Estimating PMS costs is difficult due to a number of variables, including practice size and number of users. The only way to get a reliable estimate of your cost is to work with a vendor, describing exactly what you need. Ask plenty of questions regarding hidden costs and which features the standard package includes.
The cost of a locally-hosted PMS software solution varies widely, depending on features and the number of users. You must purchase a license for each user, which is what takes this product from $1,500 to $50,000 or more for a large practice. For example, a small office with a single user pays between $1,500 and $10,000 just for the PMS software. Add in EMR and billing features, and you can bump that total to $15,000.
Extra costs for software-systems include training and support. You also need some basic equipment to host your software. Costs of this equipment have changed dramatically in the past five years, as technology improves. A server will set you back around $1,000, though you may find one for as low as $500. You also need Ethernet switches and wires, as well as a backup hard drive. Altogether, this hardware adds another $1,500 to $2,000 to the price of the system itself.
Cloud-based systems charge for initial setup, plus monthly fees, both of which vary based on the size of your practice and how many users you have. Expect to pay between $1,000 and $5,000 for setup, and between $300 and $500, per user, per month. In addition, many cloud providers charge additional fees, such as a percentage of collections, or a charge for invoicing. They also often set limits on the number of claims, with an extra charge for every claim over your limit, typically around $0.50 per additional claim.
Whichever system you choose, get a full list of fees and charges from your vendor, and don't forget to include the equipment you need to provide for a software package. Do not skimp on training your team, as it ensures you take full advantage of the system's features and capabilities.