So, how much does Dentrix Ascend cost?
For privately-owned, multi-location dental group practices keeping an eye on cloud-based dental software, one of the major considerations is cost. If you own or manage a dental group practice with several offices, you may be interested in comparing what you’re spending now on servers, backup, virus control, tech support and dental communications software against the fees for Dentrix Ascend.
There are 2 tiers of costs for Dentrix Ascend:
- One-time setup fees
- Monthly subscription
The one-time fees include an $995 enrollment fee and then $750 for each database conversion. The monthly subscription runs $500/mo, which includes 10 concurrent users (and you can add another 5 users for another $250/mo).
Cost Comparison for 3 Office Group
Let’s take a 3 location group that is considering making the switch to cloud-based software and wants to compare costs. To make the switch to Dentrix Ascend, that’s $2,250 for 3 database conversions plus an enrollment fee of $995, so the total one-time fee comes up to $3,245. Next, we’re looking at $1,500/mo for the subscription fees.
Looking at the existing expenses for this group, we’re signed up for support for the group and that runs $200/mo. Next, we pay for eclaims – and we’ve found one of the flat rate companies that doesn’t charge per claim, so we’re spending about $100/mo per office – $300/mo for all three locations. For each office, we also spend $300/mo on a subscription to one of the popular communications software programs that we’re only using for text / email reminders/confirmations.
The next round of expenses are more difficult to estimate. These are the ones related to backups, tech support for our servers, security and upgrades. In this group, two of the offices have outdated 2003 servers that we know will cost $10,000 each to replace (plus some downtime to move the data). We also pay IT support throughout the year to maintain our virus control, handle updates and problem-solve – we got a great rate at just $125/hr and to take care of all three offices, it’s easy to spend $5000/year per location as there always seems to be the need for a computer to be replaced or some problem to be handled. Plus labor, we also will spend money on a backup solution, which could mean purchasing terabyte storage for our server or subscribing to an online backup service. As you know, backup fees are based on the size of the databases you have, so this will vary widely depending upon the office size and patient volume. For our comparison, I will estimate $300/mo for backup costs.
For existing fees, all this adds up to $1700/mo for the eclaims, dental software support and backup service, $20,000 in new servers (these should last at least 5 years, so call it $4,000/year pro-rated), $4,500 in server licenses (a one time purchase with your new server so we’ll call that $900/yr) and $15,000/year in IT support. We know IT support will still be required once we switch to a cloud-based solution, but without the server-related work, this expense should drop substantially – let’s just say by half. One other cost to add in is the fee for a remote login service, but most offices I know aren’t paying for these, but using a free version. So, let’s call our final costs as $14,100/year.
For Dentrix Ascend in this group, the total fee will be $21,245 year 1 – and then $18,000/year afterward. Compared to the $14,100/year of server-based costs this comes up a bit short. However, going through this exercise, we can see that we are paying a monthly fee for our traditional server based dental software now. Since we have to pay in full for servers and often for our IT support contracts, it’s easy to skip including these costs.
Comparison of Intangibles
Using our numbers above, we will save about $4,000/ year in measurable costs by sticking with a traditional server based dental software solution. This is $334/mo for a three office dental group practice. However, what about the intangibles that are not easily measured in dollars?
Here are a few hassles to consider:
Remote logins bump off users
Every time a team member wants to check the schedule or look up patient information for another office location, they must take over a computer at that location. If you purchased an additional computer at each office to set up the remote access without affecting the team members onsite, then we should count the cost of an additional computer in each office. Most groups just try to choose a computer that is infrequently used to install this remote login software, but that still means that your staff bumps each other off the computer from time to time. And, for busy offices, this bumping can occur so frequently it can quickly move from an annoyance to a slowing of patient care to an outright work stopping situation.
More than just the inability to print the health history from office A so the doctor in office B can extract the tooth for the emergency patient, technology issues are the number one cause of frustration between team members. And, for team members who work in different locations in the first place, it already can be a challenge to maintain positive relationships and smooth sailing. With a cloud-based dental software, all this is gone.
Incomplete Clinical Notes
Duplicate or incomplete clinical notes between locations. Let’s say a regular patient seen in office A ends up with a dental emergency on a Thursday, when office A is closed. The patient is offered to come to office B for a same day visit but now that doctor has no history of treatment, no health history, no medication list, etc. The administrative team has to try to get this info and then, once this visit is completed, the original office also should track that the patient went to another office for an emergency. More administrative work that could be eliminated by having one cloud-based database with the three locations.
Billing Manager Inefficiencies
Do you have a billing/insurance manager at each office? Most multi-location groups have just one for the entire group, it’s one of the logical choices for groups to be more efficient. But without easy access to each system, this person ends up wasting time just trying to get connected and then calling over to the offices to be ready for when statements print. I have seen the ease of having a billing/insurance manager easily access and print any necessary data for collections using Ascend, optimizing the time of this highly paid team member.
Lack of Support for Absenteeism
How do you handle absenteeism in one of your offices? With a cloud-based system, its easy to ask a team member in another office to step in and handle confirmations calls or insurance verification tasks, to take the load off the remaining staff.
You get the idea. Working with a cloud-based dental software is an entirely new way for dental practices to increase efficiency. We can optimize staff across the entire organization and save countless hours of interruptions because anyone can see the schedule at any time, for any date!
Let me pause from the cheerleading a moment and say that this is not a perfect solution. Cloud-based depends on solid internet service and our reliance on our dental software vendor for as close to 100% uptime as possible. Neither of these are under our control and that may be too much risk for some to stomach. And, as we talk about costs, if you have to invest $1,000/mo in Google Fiber to achieve the speed and reliability necessary for your large group, maybe the costs still don’t work?
As I am at the beginning of learning more about Dentrix Ascend, it was helpful for me to walk through this cost comparison just to see that it will likely be a slightly more expensive solution than sticking with a traditional approach, but the higher cost may be worth it for the convenience and efficiency it brings. Plus, I know Dentrix is willing to negotiate some of its fees based on the size of the group. As always, bigger gets a better deal. So, I hope this article was helpful for you multi-location dental group practice owners as you keep an eye on this new approach to dental software.
Check out my Free Resources
If you’re managing a dental practice and want organized systems for easier dental staff training, then check out my Collections System and how to Set Up a Recall System. Once these internal systems are in place, you may want to focus on marketing with a system for New Patient Referral Tracking and handling patient complaints.
And, if you’re interested in a comprehensive approach to run your dental practice and train your team, visit Dental Staff Training Levels.