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What factors should I consider when purchasing appointment-confirmation software for my office?

This question came our way from a practising dentist in response to a recent “Plugged In” article in the JCDA: I am seriously considering adding some software which allows communication with patients by email to confirm appointments. What are the pros and cons of the different systems available to me? What specifications should I insist on in the systems I evaluate?

Dr. Jeff Glaizel of Toronto who authors our “Plugged In” column provided this initial response.

When evaluating a specific communication technology solution for your office there are 2 main areas to look at:

1. Does the workflow fit into my office workflow or is it difficult to use? This would be fairly easy to answer, see how it works, test it and then make an educated decision.

2. Does the solution put me or my practice at risk? Two specific areas should be addressed:

a. Is it compliant with regulatory and privacy guidelines?  Unsecured email should not be used to communicate with patients and patients do not have the ability to waive their right to privacy and security.

b. How does the solution ensure that my patient information will remain mine and not compromised?  When using confirmation software you are essentially providing a 3rd party a list of your patients complete with email addresses and phone numbers.  If that list was compromised (i.e.: provided to another dental office or leaked by mistake) there could be potential financial and legal liabilities.

Some questions (not an exhaustive list) to ask of the company and of the contract being signed:

1. Does the 3rd party company have insurance?

2. Who has liability in case of system failure?

3. Where are the data being stored and how are backups being dealt with?

4. What happens if the 3rd party company is sold or goes out of business?

5. What are your backup contingencies?

In the digital environment implementing small solutions can carry large risks.  As  small business owners, we  dentists must be able to analyze those risks, weight them against the benefits and make educated choices.  Good Luck!!!

Dr. Jeff Glaizel is a practising dentist and he is President and CEO of My DDS Network Ltd.

Follow-up: What further information would you like on this topic? Email us at jcdaoasis@cda-adc.ca

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