The Importance of I.T. in Your Multi-location Equation

By Dawn Christodoulou, President, XLDent

As a dental software development and services company, XLDent has seen more private dental practice owners expand to two or more locations in the past nine months than we have in the past nine years. This emerging trend is exciting to say the least! It means our small business community is overcoming the challenges of over-regulation and rising costs. They are seeing opportunity in consolidation of business systems and expansion of service offerings. They are taking control back! Our private practice owners are doing what all small business owners do. They provide needed services, employ people in their communities, and work to grow their businesses.

The Vehicle in Your Expansion Plans
As with all expansions, there is a lot to think about. This article is intended to highlight the importance of information technology (IT) in a multi-location growth strategy. It’s often over-simplified by the belief that what is working for the current location will work for a small enterprise. It very well may work, but will it give you the records consolidation, performance and continuity that you need to be efficient and productive? Will the software and infrastructure you are using be the headache or energizer in your trek to grow your business? Your IT solution needs to be the vehicle in your expansion equation that gives you and your team flight, not the boat anchor that brings you down.

Consider How to Manage Your Database
If you are considering the purchase of a second (or third, or more) location, also consider how you want to manage your EDR and business systems – your databases. Consider whether or not patients will travel between locations. If this is a likelihood, a single patient database will be necessary if you want to maintain a single dental chart for each patient. It is also an important consideration if you intend to consolidate patient billing and insurance functions. If not, stand-alone databases at each location may be a better option, especially if you build up the location and patient goodwill to sell it off someday.

Software to Service Multiple Dental Specialties
If you also intend to expand by offering multi-disciplinary services, keep in mind that you will need software that serves multiple dental specialties to maintain continuity in not only patient delivery and communication systems, but business systems. And again, consider whether or not it will be necessary to maintain a single patient database.

Help from I.T. and Software Partners
As you set up your business structure or “shell” with your accountant and lawyer, it will be important for you to know the ins and outs of your database configuration, software capabilities, and how production, collection and profitability numbers will be reported. This will require the aid of your IT and software partners. Don’t count on your accountant or lawyer to know any of these details. They can help you build your accounting, incorporation and tax equations based on your variables, but only if you do your homework so you can explain all of them, including your database configuration and software capabilities.

Single or Multiple Databases?
Ultimately, evaluation of your database and software needs begins with identifying whether you will run your operation with a single or with multiple databases, with a single or with multiple software solutions, and understanding how these locations need to be connected. An experienced IT partner will complete a thorough needs assessment, help you answer these very important questions, and also provide you with options when selecting a solution.

IT Team That Specializes in Dentistry
Because the technology landscape today includes so many options like VPN, RDP, clouds and hybrid clouds, it’s important to choose an IT team that specializes in dentistry. Your technology needs truly are specialized and unique, so don’t settle for anything less than experts in the field. XLDent, for example, has been serving the dental community since 1971. We offer a software solution that is scalable for single practitioners, group practices, multi-location, and multi-specialty practices. We provide computer hardware and network services, as well as partner with NSPs that specialize in dental practice installations across the country.

Growth and prosperity await you! Work with all of your trusted partners—accountant, lawyer and IT professionals—to build a successful equation that is productive and efficient to maintain.

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