Vladimir Makeew CEO of Surf

    Dental Practice Management Software: How to Build a Custom Solution for Reasonable Cost

    Focus on oral health in Europe is increasing, and the pandemic has made patients more technology-oriented—so the dental practice management software market meets significant changes. In 2021, its global size was valued at $2.06 billion, and from 2022 to 2030 is estimated to expand at a CAGR of 10.16%, reaching up to $4.9 billion. 

    Entrepreneurs who own dentistry clinics and chains choose the software to make their business more patient-oriented and plan the staff workload efficiently. However, we meet an interesting fact: though custom software is more expensive than turnkey solutions, companies continue to address developers for the first ones. Why? Let’s compare two approaches to find an answer.

    At Surf, we have been developing software for large companies and startups in various niches, including medicine, banking, and retail. Since 2011, our team selects the top tech stack and creates software  that help businesses achieve impressive results. In this article, we’ll help you see all the differences between custom and turnkey solutions for your dental business and make the appropriate choice.

    Learn all the benefits you get by entrusting your medical software development to the Surf team.

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    Dental practice management software: development trends 2022

    Before developing a dental practice management software or platform, learn about IT trends for dentistry today. Here they are.

    • Dental practice management systems and CRMs. The programs help managers, marketers, business owners, and doctors in organizing convenient and efficient treatment processes and acquiring and retaining patients. With some of the programs, dentists can even send X-rays, prescriptions, and other medical documents to patients and discuss further treatment plans.
    • Teledentistry platforms. This type of program is created to help users get urgent help from a dentist. It can be remote consultations, planning a doctor’s visit, or organizing a medical examination for employees in an office.  
    • Electronic health record (EHR) and electronic medical record (EMR) systems. The programs are developed to do numerous tasks related to patient engagement, saving medical history documentation, editing a treatment plan, and filing. EMR is a digital form of a patient’s chart, and EHR is a collection of the records from multiple doctors.
    • Portals for patients & doctors. The services help patients find doctors and clinics to get treatment. Searching for a doctor by specialization, profiles viewing, online assistant, and scheduling appointments to clinics make the process much easier. 

    In the next paragraph, we’ll find out more about the pros and cons of turnkey solutions in general and compare them to the custom software that can combine features from different types of programs above

    Comparing custom vs turnkey dental practice management software  

    Let’s compare custom and turnkey solutions for healthcare both in general and in dentistry to help you get the valuable insights. 

    Turnkey solutions pros and cons

    Turnkey solutions advantages are:

    • Immediate start. Two months are usually enough to start using the software without any difficulties. Vendors provide end-users with convenient guides about it.
    • Saving in-house resources. Your specialists don’t have to spend much time on the new software. Any ready-made solution is usually easy to maintain. Besides, most vendors offer remote support.
    • Lower risks. A turnkey dental practice management software is tried by other clinics, so you’re not likely to be the first to deal with  numerous risks while trying it.
    • Cost-saving. It’s a universal solution, developed once and used by many clinics simultaneously for many years. A client doesn’t pay for each feature. 

    Turnkey solutions disadvantages are:

    • Numerous limitations. If you or your staff would like to add a new feature or change anything else to make the working process more efficient, the vendor won’t have to meet your requirements. Especially if you’re the only clinic that asked them to introduce the change.
    • Lack of industry-specific features. This problem results from the previous one. If your clinic needs anything special to add to the software, it can be impossible to do in the foreseeable future. 
    • Rearranging processes in your clinic. A turnkey software isn’t tailored to your clinic needs, so your staff will have to adapt to it.
    • Lack of security. Vendors can see your data, and you cannot be confident that they protect it in the best way. Data security in medicine is so important that it’s better to control it by yourself instead of delegating the task. 
    • The code is only rented, so you don’t own it. How your app works and how long it’ll exist depends on your vendor.

    Choose a turnkey solution if your budget is limited yet, and you don’t need too many different features. It’s also a good solution for startups and small clinics. If you have a chain of dental clinics or just a large clinic, turnkey software isn’t the best choice for you because of its limitations.

    Custom solution pros and cons

    Custom solutions advantages are:

    • Tailored to your organization’s needs and processes. Only you and your staff choose how the software functions and what features it involves. It really saves your time, money, and nerves. 
    • Code that belongs to you. It doesn’t depend on anyone except your clinic, and a vendor doesn’t change anything if you don’t ask them about it. If you want maximum control, they can transfer a new software for further in-house development, so that your IT specialists will maintain it.
    • High level of security. This is your personnel who have access to commercial and sensitive information. And together with a vendor, you choose ways to protect it. 
    • Fast change delivery. It takes about 2 weeks on average to add any feature that’ll help your staff solve their everyday tasks productively. 

    Custom solutions disadvantages are:

    • High cost. As a developer team or vendor creates dental practice management software with a unique set of tools and doesn’t sell it to anyone else, the custom solution for dentistry is more expensive than a turnkey one. 
    • Longer to launch. To develop a custom solution, a good vendor deeply analyzes your audience and organization’s needs. It takes some time, but you finally get a perfect software to boost your business results. 
    • Full immersion of your team. From the very beginning all stakeholders within your company are better to be involved. For example, IT specialists will maintain the software after your vendor finishes working on it, so it’s necessary for them to follow the process. To learn how to improve the software, managers and marketers will monitor KPI and other metrics since the clinic started using it.  

    Custom dental practice management software is a great solution if you’re not going to stop and you’re aiming to extend your business or open new dental clinics. No limitations in adding features and a high level of security is the thing your staff and patients will appreciate much. However, it’s not the best choice for small medical businesses and beginners: its cost is high, and functionality may be excessive.

    custom vs turnkey comparison

    We see that custom solutions surpass turnkey ones in many ways. However, their development process usually takes much time and money. But how to speed up software development and reduce the spendings, not sacrificing quality? Read further to find the answer. As a bonus, you’ll learn about top features to add in your custom dental software in 2022 and 2023 and the most progressive technologies to implement them. 

    💙 If you have already chosen a type of software for your dental clinic, we have something else for you. Here are 7 tips that will help you know  more about the healthcare app development process and not overspend on it.

    Reducing the cost of your custom dental clinic management software

    As we see in the paragraphs above, there are numerous features to add to your dental management software. But how to save time and money, still offering your audience quality software?  

    Today, there is a proven way to do it—Flutter development. Flutter is a cross-platform framework that helps businesses save up to 40% on development by using a single codebase for mobile, web, desktop, and embedded devices

    It’s the best suit if

    • You need to create an app with a unique set of features.  
    • You’re looking for ways to reduce time to market and reach the end-users.  
    • You’re planning to adopt your app for different platforms and looking for a time and cost-efficient solution. 
    • You want to create a native-like app design for your clinic.

    Know everything about Flutter development benefits to decide whether it is the technology you’re looking for.

    Go to Flutter development

    At Surf, we have been using Flutter since 2019. We see how this technology helps businesses save resources and offer their target audiences up-to-date and secure apps. For example, a pharmacy chain owning 3 brands addressed us to develop 3 iOS and 3 Android apps—two for each of the brands. 

    Our IT specialists offered to try Flutter instead, and the Client agreed. As a result, we created one codebase and 3 different designs and used it to launch 3 apps for the brands. The full process took us about 4 months, and with Flutter the Client saved 40% of the budget they would have spent on native development.  

    Today, 70% of all online customers in our Client’s pharmacy chain make purchases via the mobile app. An average purchase size in the app exceeds an offline purchase.

    Curious to learn more about Flutter not only for mobile, but for web development? Read our dedicated article.

    Creating top dental management software tailored to your business needs

    We’ve reviewed top dental practice management platforms to offer you ideas for your custom software. Having read the paragraph, you’ll also have a better understanding of the scope of work. 

    Dental management system features for dentists 

    Dentists and other medical staff need to have tools that help them provide patients’ with quality treatment, fast and efficiently, sometimes not depending on their location. Here are features most important for the audience.

    • Special features for doctors. Dentists of different specializations need different features. For example, you can add ortho charts and tabs for orthodontists to make the working process faster for them.
    • Creating, editing, and sending medical documents. It can be X-rays, prescriptions, and other patients’ health data. Doctors send it to patients or to colleagues to make a diagnosis, discuss it, and create a treatment plan without losing a minute.   
    • Communication with patients. Online chats and video calls are necessary for up-to-date medical software. Since the pandemic has started, patients appreciate an opportunity to get treatment remotely when it’s possible. For doctors, answering patients’ requests is an opportunity to make them more satisfied with the medical services and prefer the clinic.
    • Shelduing. For medical staff, it’s important to see an up-to-date schedule. It’s necessary to plan their workload.
    dental software screens
    Patient charts and other materials for dentists. Source:

    Features for patients of dental clinics

    Patients, especially the ones with sudden pain, need software to get medical help as fast as possible and plan a visit to a dentistry clinic without a necessity to call there. Below we describe some features most interesting to the audience. 

    Note that the features are often added not in the dental management system itself: patients can use them via mobile apps and online services integrated with your software.

    • Getting urgent dentists’ help remotely. Patients will appreciate it if you offer them medical help online. Videocalls, online chat, guides and short tests with information about diseases and treatment, and 24/7 availability can help you stand out of competitors. 
    • Editing a patient’s profile. Information about anamnesis, allergies, contraindications, and other things are extremely important to make a treatment plan. If patients can add any up-to-date information about their health, it saves much time when they visit doctors. The feature is usually added in teledentistry services, while in other software editing profiles are not available for a patient.   
    • Choosing a doctor and scheduling visits. If patients can easily filter out specialists by a criteria, view detailed information about doctors’ experience and education in their profiles, choose a dentist, and make an appointment using your platform, they become more loyal to your organization. The busy lifestyle turns features like searching and planning into primary ones. 
    • Convenient payments. The more ways to pay for a visit you add, the more likely the patient is to use it and come back to your clinic or dentistry platform.

    Looking for developers to create your healthcare app? Here is a complete guide to help you avoid making common mistakes and learn more about pitfalls. Read it to be ready for the hiring process. 

    Features for management in dental clinics

    Managers will appreciate a dental management platform that helps them make schedules without any mistakes, get rid of paperwork where possible, and see business results using transparent analytics with charts. There are features developed for these purposes. 

    • Automated employee scheduling. Making a manual schedule is a large scope of work. Dental practice management software can save much time while offering a convenient and flawless autoshelduing instead. 
    • Reducing paperwork. Some documents are to be printed, but others should be digitalized to save your employees’ and patients’ time. Most software for dentists offers the necessary features. 
    • Automated billing. Digitized billing helps clinics get payments from patients faster. 
    • Making calls and writing emails. It’s a feature not only for managers, but for marketers. Sending emails with information about sales and recording calls to analyze the quality of managers’ work and edit their scripts can boost business results.
    • Detailed analytics. Dashboards and charts help managers, marketers, and business owners estimate how effectively the clinic works. And find some ways to improve it.
    tab32 pages
    Interfaces for managers. Source:

    Wrapping up…

    As we see in the article, software for dental clinics varies. And it’s only you who chooses the best solution to use it for decades and expand your business with the help of technologies. 

    At Surf, we have proven expertise in custom software development. Our clients from the healthcare industry are using it every day to achieve new heights, offering their patients quality service as easily as ever before.