Dentrix Ascend: Initial Thoughts

Dentrix Ascend

Initial thoughts on Dentrix Ascend

If you are a long term reader of my blog, you know that I am a big fan of Dentrix. With almost 20 years experience using this software and making it work for general dentistry, pediatrics, orthodontics, oral surgery and periodontics it is fun to know how it runs so I can design dental practice management systems that flow smoothly. However, I also recognize the limitations of traditional software. For the multi-location groups I work with, there are several frustrations that would disappear with a cloud-based approach.

Challenges with traditional software for multi-location dental group practice:

  • Gathering data or reports from multiple offices can be a challenge. Even though most groups use logmein or teamviewer software to remotely connect to each location, this “takes over” another computer and often team members bump each other off unknowingly.
  • Patients that are seen by multiple offices have to figure out how to transfer records. If a doctor sees a patient in a different location than where their records are kept, the staff have to figure out how to get the health history and x-rays to the current dentist, and have to decide where to charge out the procedure.
  • Duplication of effort. If your group has a certain collection letter or new patient letter they prefer, then this must be set up in each office. This also applies for other setup, like fee schedules or billing types, etc.
  • Multiple servers to support, remote licenses to purchase and keep track of, updates and backups to deal with. We may know that server 2003 isn’t supported but it’s expensive to buy a new server, update computers that have XP and go through the installation that interrupts everyone.
  • In some groups, different offices may even be running different software. One group I know has 4 offices, 2 using Dentrix and 2 using EagleSoft. This makes it tough for staff to cover for each other in different locations because they are unfamiliar with the software.


My initial experience with Dentrix Ascend

Acknowledging the challenges listed above, I have been interested in working with Dentrix Ascend for over a year. I’ve heard lots of stories about the software often accompanied by the comment that it’s just not ready yet. So, I was curious. I deal with the challenges listed above in several multi-location groups and thought to myself several times now nice it would be to have a cloud-based solution.

I have finally had the opportunity to get started working with this program and thought you might be interested in my feedback. For many multi-location groups, you may be waiting until you hear that Dentrix Ascend is ready – and then you will evaluate it for your practice. And, you may be trying to decide when the limitations of a new program are outweighed by the benefits of moving to a cloud-based approach. As I begin to learn more about Dentrix Ascend, I will share specific thoughts and tips to help you understand what you’re facing if you decide to make the switch.

So, for now, let me share my initial reaction to Dentrix Ascend.

  • The dashboard full of widgets looks really cool, but I’m not sure how to use it yet. Honestly, I was hoping that it was customizable too, but at least for now, the screen is set.
  • I do like having the Unresolved claims right up front so everyone can see how caught up the office is on outstanding claims.
  • I love the fill in the blank feature for patient names and procedures. I appreciate it when Google guesses what I am looking for, and this reminds me of that feature.
  • It is super easy to just log into the office online. I have one of those password remembering software programs and so, its fast to log in and get working.
  • The schedule is all on one screen and although you can select the operatories and providers you want to view, there is no way to save these views so for groups with lots of providers, you end up scrolling back and forth quite a bit.
  • I’m just learning the reports and they seem powerful, but are more reminiscent of EagleSoft in that depending upon which report you choose, you have different criteria. In Dentrix, I love the letters feature for running any report I want and then sending the data to excel. Once I get the hang of the Dentrix Ascend reports, I’m sure I will be able to do this as well, but there is a learning curve here.

As group practices continue to grow in our field, I am hopeful that the more I work with Dentrix Ascend, the more I can figure out how to set up systems and protocols to make it work smoothly. I am very clear that no software is perfect, and in fact a friend said it best as I was looking for a feature in Dentrix Ascend that I know is in Dentrix. She said that I have to remember that since Dentrix Ascend is online, it intends to be more limited with its features so it can retain its speed. That makes total sense to me. We all want our computers to move as fast as possible, so accepting some trade-off seems perfectly acceptable.

If anyone reading this is already using Dentrix Ascend and has been trying to figure out how to make the most of this program, please feel free to share your thoughts and questions in the comments below. I certainly won’t have all the answers, but I’m interested in learning everything I can to make it work. For those of us working with multi-location groups, let’s see how we can enjoy the benefits of cloud-based software and still have our practices run smoothly too!

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AUTHOR: Jill Nesbitt
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