How to choose a patient relationship management system

Think about the last major item you purchased. Maybe it was a new phone, an air fryer, or a vacuum. Did you do any research prior to buying it? Did you look at online reviews or ask your peers for recommendations? And how did you feel when you finally bought it? Big purchases can evoke lots of different emotions. There’s the excitement of buying something new and getting to use it. There’s some uncertainty because you don’t know if you’ll be happy with your choice. And, in some instances, you might even feel stress because there’s going to be a learning curve. These same feelings can bubble up when you’re selecting a dental patient relationship management system (PRM). Investing in a new solution can be daunting if you don’t know where to start or what questions to ask. Before you commit to a demo, it’s important to clarify what you’ll need in a solution so you’ll get a sense of what the product can do when you see it in action.  So, what should you consider when looking for a new dental PRM system?  Here are three items to consider when evaluating a patient relationship management system.

1. Identify your practice's goals.

Before you invest in a dental patient relationship management system, take a step back and ask what you want to get out of it. You need to consider your short-term and long-term goals and how it can help you attain them. These are conversations to have with the dentist and the rest of the office team. It’s good to get the clinical and business goals aligned so that you’re choosing a solution that will help you take your practice to the next level. Here are some examples of short-term goals:

  • Increase patient acquisition.
  • Reduce time-consuming tasks like phone calls and paperwork.
  • Decrease appointment cancellations and no-shows.  

Here are some long-terms goals:

  • Open an additional practice in the future.
  • Improve patient retention.
  • Be acquired by a DSO or group practice.  

Keep in mind these are suggestions to help you steer the conversation with the rest of the team. Every practice is different, and there isn’t a wrong way to approach it. It’s good to first understand why you need a new PRM system or are looking to invest in one. It’s a question you’ll be asked when you’re on a product demo. Download the dental patient relationship management system checklist so that you’re prepared to find the best solution for your practice.

2. Know what questions to ask the dental patient relationship management system vendor.

Once you’ve committed to a demo, come prepared with questions. That way you’re making the most of your valuable time and getting the information you need to make an informed decision. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions because software is an investment for your practice. Here are some questions to ask the vendor:  

  • What’s the typical ROI for a new customer?
  • Are there additional costs for onboarding and training?
  • Does it read and write to the PMS?
  • Does the software read ADA codes?  

Look for a vendor who values a partnership, not one that sees you as a one-off transaction. Ideally, you want a vendor with an excellent customer service team that’s accessible and able to answer support questions within a reasonable timeframe. Additionally, they should have a knowledge base that empowers you to seek out answers yourself. A dental PRM system vendor will be committed to helping you make the most of your solution so you can achieve your goals. And you should feel comfortable providing feedback on the product and what can be improved. It’s a two-way communication effort.  

3. Know what matters most to you and the front office team.

Countless features at your fingertips can be overwhelming. It’s important to know that you’re not obligated to use every single feature in your PRM system. However, you should also maintain an open mind because you never know when certain features might come in handy down the lane.  Start with identifying what’s most pertinent for you and your team. Make a list of what you need and what would be nice-to-have. What’s going to address your immediate challenges? What’s going to help you in the long run? Look at the features you’re evaluating and understand how it integrates with your PMS. Without both systems, it’s hard to achieve your practice goals. Here are some examples of features that you can find in a PRM system.

  • Read/write integration with a PMS
  • Two-way text messaging
  • Online forms
  • Custom campaigns for treatment acceptance and recall
  • Patient portal

Searching for a new PRM system shouldn’t be stressful. Start with identifying your goals, knowing what questions you need answered, and what features matter most, then you’ll feel more prepared when you get to the demo stage. The more you empower yourself with self-education, the easier it will be to make a choice on your next solution. Once you have the right technology in place, you can get back to focusing on the areas of your role that you enjoy and leave the office feeling less stressed. Download our PRM checklist so that you’re equipped to ask the right questions when evaluating vendors.