On February 17, 2009, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act was officially in effect. It was enacted under Title XIII as a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Along with the HITECH Act, the rising geriatric population, the growing awareness about oral health, and the new technologies are driving forces to enlarge the dental practice management software market. According to Market Research Future, the market will be worth $4.9 billion by 2030.
What is Dental Practice Management Software?
Dental practice software offers a dedicated suite of tools that helps dental clinics and hospitals automate their business operation. Similar to electronic healthcare records (EHRs), the software can streamline daily tasks and make dental office management easier by offering:
- Communication platforms
- Patient engagement platforms
- Administrative capabilities
- Billing/ accounting/ financial management features
- Treatment planning
- Reporting and data analytics
- Security and compliance
In reality, very few dental practice management software packages can include all of the above-listed functions. There is a variety of built-in tools specifically designed to focus on a single unique feature like:
- Patient communication software
- Patient engagement software
- Invoice/billing software
- Payment processing software
- Financial management software
- Insurance management software
- Treatment planning software
- Dental imaging software
- Orthodontic modeling software
Patient communication software, let’s say, is distinctively developed for scheduling and tracking appointments, sending text reminders via emails or messages, etc. Meanwhile, dental imaging software provides a platform for storing and organizing patient X-rays and other digital images.
Dental Practice Management Software Market 2022-2030
In 2021, the market was valued at 2.06 billion dollars. From 2022 to 2030, Market Research Future predicts a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.9%. The HITECH Act, the rising geriatric population, the growing awareness about oral health, and the advances in technology are four main driving factors in boosting the demand for this software.
#1 The HITECH Act
Before HITECH came into force, only a small percentage of hospitals in the United States had adopted EHRs. For this reason, the US government enacted the Act to incentive the widespread application of EHRs. There has been a heated debate about whether HITECH influenced the adoption of advanced technology in the healthcare sector across the country.
Research Gates reported that the Act made a notable impact on hospital EHR adoption. In detail, annual increases in EHR adoption rates among eligible hospitals rose from 3.2% (2008-2010) to 14.2% (2011-2015). Meanwhile, the rates among ineligible hospitals were 0.1% (2008-2010) and 3.3% (2011-2015). These figures support the argument that HITECH has left a permanent imprint in driving the adoption of valuable technologies.
#2 The Rising Geriatric Population
In recent decades, medical science has made impressive progress in improving life expectancy around the world. According to WHO, the proportion of the global population over 60 years will nearly double, from 12% in 2015 to 22% in 2050. In detail, the number of people aged 60 years and older will reach 2.1 billion by 2050.
Elderlies are often at risk for common oral health problems such as tooth loss, gum diseases, dental infections, etc. That’s why the rising geriatric population has resulted in ever-surging demand for oral care services. These facts and figures have presented golden opportunities for dental practice management software.
#3 The Growing Awareness of Oral Health
Good oral health is essential to everyone’s well-being. Despite not being severe, dental diseases still pose significant health threats. People with poor oral health often suffer from pain, discomfort, and loss of appetite. Fortunately, most types of these diseases can be preventable.
Since prevention starts with education, many awareness campaigns have been actively promoted to enhance oral health awareness. Dental health organizations have not only offered a rich source of information but also designed fun activities to help people of all ages prevent common oral health conditions. The growing awareness has contributed to a rise in oral healthcare spending across the globe and a boom in the dental practice management software market in the subsequent years.
#4 The Advances in Technology
Without a doubt, digital transformation has changed the way companies operate. It enables them to modernize their legacy infrastructure, automate repetitive tasks, streamline business processes, strengthen security, and boost profitability. If a company doesn’t keep up with technological advancements, it could lose its competitive advantage and be left behind by other rivals.
Innovations and technologies can benefit dental clinics and hospitals in various aspects. Cost reduction, unlimited storage space, enhanced security, quick updates, and better dentist and patient experiences are just a few benefits to mention. That’s why this factor is one of the main driving forces for future market growth.
How can Technology Shape The Future of Dental Practice Management Software?
The advantages that technology can bring to dentistry are numerous. However, to sum up, it enhances experiences for both dentists and patients. By automating day-to-day tasks, this type of software can help lighten dentists’ workload as well as deliver better oral care services to their clients. This section presents some ways technology can shape the future of the market.
Keep Patient Engagement
With the active support of patient communication software or patient engagement software, dental clinics and hospitals can boost patient satisfaction and foster better engagement. It helps digitalize and personalize access and communication at every step of the healthcare journey.
For instance, the virtual check-in feature will minimize time spent in waiting rooms. The appointment reminders feature, on the other hand, is capable of not just managing, tracking, and scheduling appointments. But it also can trigger a phone call or a text message to remind patients about their next consultation. In addition, the software can automatically interact with patients who haven’t visited in a while or update information in the system when they confirm or cancel an appointment.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are expected to enhance these features in the future. Let’s take a client history – a goldmine of information – as an example. Exploiting the client database, AI and ML can learn that Ms. A prefers to see Dr. B on Saturday mornings. As a result, the software can suggest an appointment to meet her schedule. This easy and seamless scheduling process delights patients with a modernized healthcare journey.
Speed up Billing and Claims Process
Another benefit of dental practice management software is to automate invoicing process and streamline electronic claim submission. Thanks to that, it helps accelerate payment collection from insurance firms and patients.
When it comes to the billing feature, the software can decrease the workload associated with the manual process by:
- Providing advanced functionalities such as accounts payable (AP) process, accounts receivable (AR) process, self-billing, electronic signature…
- Tracking and reporting every invoice, patient eligibility, or insurance claim in real-time
- Ensuring a secure and highly efficient document exchange with patients and other partners
- Complying with ever-changing regulations and data transfer standards
- Enabling patients to attach files such as digital radiographs, photos, or other supporting documents to their claims
- Reducing reimbursement time of patient insurance claims
Support Chart and Note-taking Process
Writing dental records is a mandatory but frustrating task for any dentist. This task comes at a cost of reducing the amount of time that dentists can spend with each patient. Having that said, the task is still essential because it provides a record of treatments to remind both dentists and patients of the previous diagnosis. That’s where dental practice management software comes in to make dentists’ lives easier.
Charting and note-taking software can provide multiple features for creating comprehensive charts. For example:
- Featuring advanced odontogram in which dentists can select unhealthy teeth, directly take note of pre-existing conditions and treatment plans
- Viewing and editing images directly in the chart module
- Toggling between data entry and graphical views in the same tab
- Offering keyboard shortcuts, specialized templates, and error prevention features;
- Featuring the ability to create custom pick lists in drop-down menus to avoid re-typing information like teeth numbers, quadrants, and materials
Provide Treatment Plan through Advanced Technologies
Regarding technologies that can revolutionize dentistry, it will be omission without mentioning smart toothbrushes, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), teledentistry, regenerative dentistry, computer-assisted design, 3D printing, etc. Though these technologies may have different functions, they are all geared toward the same goal – providing the best treatments for patients.
For instance, the spread of teledentistry offers easy access to oral and dental healthcare. This technology provides a platform that allows patients to consult with dentists through telecommunications such as audio, videos, or images. It is convenient and significantly cheaper for patients to have a live consultation at home.
Another example is 3D printing technology. 3D printing refers to a method using computer-aided design to create three-dimensional objects. In dentistry, 3D printing has many applications like replacing or repairing damaged teeth, creating an orthodontic model, constructing surgical tools, etc. The potential applications are endless with this technology.
With many driving factors and practical applications in dentistry, dental practice management software is expected to explode in the coming years. At the present, there are many built-in tools already available in the marketplace. However, it is unlikely that a piece of software can do absolutely everything. Therefore, many dental clinics and hospitals must use multiple tools to address their various needs. However, switching between different software is quite time-consuming and inefficient. To resolve this issue, dental clinics and hospitals can consider custom software that is tailor-made to offer all-in-one features.