Excellent online option for dentists
Booking dentist appointments online could be about to become commonplace after Auckland software firm Software of Excellence incorporated the option into its Exact practice management product.
The company delisted from the NZX in 2007 when shareholders elected to sell out to United States medical software giant Henry Schein for $82 million.
Asia Pacific general manager Jonathan Engle said the company had continued to grow and had retained a team of 40 business analysts and developers in Auckland.
Exact was the market leader in New Zealand and Britain and Henry Schein was taking it into new markets, for example by buying the "leading practice management company" in Spain.
Engle said that, globally, about 77 per cent of the time dentists spent at work was billed and Software of Excellence hoped to help them raise that to 90 per cent. "We are in a phase of quite extensive product development."
The company has released tools that are designed to help dental practices send appointment reminders via text message, to reduce "no shows".
Online booking could help them attract new patients, who tended to be more lucrative because they often had outstanding work to be done, he said.
However, Graham Symes, principal of 11-theatre dental surgery, Symes de Silva, foresaw some drawbacks.
''People are turning to the internet a lot these days, but sometimes it is good for the receptionist to talk to the patient to work out what sort of appointment they need. If it's for a check-up it's pretty straightforward, but if they have got a problem, normally the receptionist will try to figure out what it is and allocate the correct amount of time.
''It would have to be a pretty good system before I would let it manage my appointment book.''
Dentists might also be nervous about advertising lots of available vacancies, in case patients concluded they might be no good.
Software of Excellence had done well since its purchase by Henry Schein and Symes de Silva used its software, Symes said. ''They come out with these gems now and then. Some work really well, some don't last long at all.''
It was still commonplace for dental practices to use paper-card based systems, he believed, but it would be difficult to run a large practice such as his own without a product like Exact.
- © Fairfax NZ News