When free dental software isn’t really free

Electronic Medical Record (EDR) and practice management software can be expensive for dental care providers. While cloud-based systems are less expensive than traditional enterprise programs, the monthly subscription cost may still appear prohibitive, especially for smaller practices. Therefore it is not surprising that free practice management software is gaining popularity.

However free is not a profitable business model. The software vendor has to make a profit and if end user physicians are not being charged, the money must come from somewhere. How can a few vendors afford to give away their product when others typically charge on a monthly basis for their services?

When free is not really free

Free software systems typically insert ads in the user interface, which are paid for by their advertisers. Since most doctors use these systems for up to 8 hours a day, companies are willing to pay a lot of money to display such ads. They can be distracting to users, reducing their concentration and taking focus away from the patient.

As in the case of many “free” consumer services, you never know if the vendor is selling your patients’ sensitive health data. If the management software is not HIPAA compliant, then it may even cause legal trouble for your practice. Your patients should also be considered when deciding between free or paid software. Would they be comfortable knowing that you are using a free dental software? Chances are you would lose many patients’ trust.

The most valuable metric for ad-supported businesses is the number of users. In many cases, free software does not offer a way for doctors to extract data in case of an emergency or if they would like to switch to another provider. Others even charge patients for the ability to use portals or schedule appointments online. Unforeseen fees or hidden costs is another sure-fire method of losing customers.

Free EDR and practice management software often do not include support or training in their package. If your staff needs any training at all, you could be looking at thousands of dollars for such sessions. Free solutions may not have vital features such as billing or scheduling which paid applications offer.

As you can see, a free EDR and practice management solution needs not be completely free. The money spent in training/support and the loss in patient satisfaction will be more than the monthly price of other subscription based models. It is always important to know that the software vendor you choose has a viable business model for the long term before you invest time and money in their system.

An affordable cloud-based solution

Dovetail’s intuitive cloud-based EDR (Electronic Dental Record) and Clinical solution provides you with an easy way of accessing and entering patient information, completing exams, developing treatment plans and producing progress notes weather you are in your clinic or on the go – all from your mobile tablet or from any platform that has a web browser. Whether you are a solo practitioner or running a larger clinic, Dovetail has the right package for you. Check it out

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