Depending on your current situation, the idea of a dental software conversion can either make you giddy with joy or make your blood go cold. The end result is exciting, but the process of migrating your data and team to a new practice management system? It’s not something you’ll do often and is generally unknown until you’re going through it for yourself.
We wanted to demystify dental software conversions, so we sat down with one of our own conversion specialists who’s been doing them since the 1990s. No matter which practice management system you’re coming from, chances are he’s been knee-deep in the code and knows each program in a way that very few outside of each respective company does.
Suffice it to say, each software and conversion is different, but the process and outcomes typically follow a standardized path. We’ll walk you through the basics and then go over some FAQs on this page.
Dental Software Conversion Process Overview Video
If you’re considering converting to Practice-Web or are already signed up, the video below will give you a quick overview of our conversion process.
Bringing Your Data with You vs Starting with a Blank Database
This page focuses on dental software conversion, the term used when you already use software and want to bring your patient data with you to your new software. If you’re starting a new practice or moving from paper charts to an EHR system/ will not be bringing data with you, you’ll start with a blank database.
Starting with a blank database has fewer steps.
While neither process is necessarily complicated, starting with a blank database only takes a couple of days and has fewer steps. With Practice-Web, these include:
- Demo: Most practices begin their journey with a free 60-minute demo of the software. That gives us time to show you all the features that interest you, answer all your questions, and set you up with a free trial version of Practice-Web to explore at your leisure after. If you haven’t had a demo yet, click here to request one.
- Signup: Identify which Smart Tools (AKA e-services) you’ll need and sign up for your customized package. The signup form includes fields that help us understand how your practice intends to use the software, so we’ll be able to customize it to your needs during setup.
- Install: The installation team will install the software on your server and workstations.
- Comprehensive Training: While most software providers charge by the hour for training, Practice-Web gives you three hours of free live virtual training in which your team will learn the fundamentals of the software, customize your settings, and more. After that, you’re live and ready to use the program.
- Post-Launch Follow-Up: We proactively reach out to practices five times during the first 100 days to check in and provide any additional training needed. We also give offices access to our video training library and digital User’s Guide and, of course, offices can call or email our Support team as needed too.
Outline of the Full Dental Software Conversion Process
If you’re bringing data with you, the full dental software conversion process typically takes one to two weeks depending on your availability to complete the steps outlined below.
Step 1: Demo and Signup
The demo and signup process is the same whether you’re starting with a blank database or converting your data. You’ll begin with a complimentary demo (request one here). We’ll answer all your questions and walk you through the software, then set you up with a trial version to explore on your own after. When you’re ready, we’ll provide you with a signup form that includes details on how you plan to use the software and any Smart Tools (AKA e-services) you’d like so we can customize the program to your needs during setup.
Step 2: Test Dental Software Conversion
Many software companies do not provide a test conversion of your data. They jump straight to a final dental software conversion instead. That can be problematic because there’s no such thing as a 100% conversion. Your current software may make certain types of data impossible to extract or some of your data may be corrupted. There may also be data fields in your current software that don’t have a home in Practice-Web. For that reason, we provide a risk-free test conversion of your data. That means you don’t pay anything for the test conversion and you don’t pay anything to Practice-Web if you decide not to move forward.
Your Test Conversion consists of three steps.
- Data Extraction: Our team will remote into your software and extract a copy of your data. The amount of time varies based on a number of factors, but plan on having a couple of hours in which you won’t be able to log into your current software. Once your extraction is complete, you can log back in and use your software normally.
- Risk-Free Test Data Conversion: Once the data extraction is complete, our team will go to work converting it into Practice-Web data. It takes about one business day for our team to convert the data.
- Checklist: We’ll provide you with a checklist that walks you through the software, so it’s easier to see how everything imports. It’s always a good idea to have other team members take a peek too, as each person works with the software in a different way. Once you’ve checked it all out and are satisfied, just sign the checklist and send it back to us.
Step 3: Final Dental Software Conversion
The final dental software conversion works similarly to the test conversion in that it begins with extracting the data from your current software. You won’t be able to access your current software during this time, which, again, may take a couple of hours. Once the extraction is complete, you’ll be able to access your current software and data, but anything you add to it won’t be imported into Practice-Web, so you may want to keep written documents until your final conversion is complete in about one business day. Our conversion specialist will go over the timing with you, so you’re prepared.
Step 4: Comprehensive Training
Just before you go live, your team will receive three hours of comprehensive live virtual training. During the session, you’ll:
- Learn the fundamentals of using Practice-Web
- Customize your settings
- Explore hidden gems in the software
- Learn how to use the software to work more efficiently and boost production
Step 5: Post-Launch Follow-Up
The post-launch process is the same whether you’re starting fresh or converting data. We’ll proactively reach out to you five times during the first 90 days to answer any questions you have and provide additional training. You’ll also have access to on-demand training materials such as video tutorials and our digital User’s Guide. Plus, you can reach our Support team via email or phone as needed.
We also recommend following us on social media so you can catch tips and tricks as well as live educational webinars.
Dental Software Conversion FAQ
How long does it take to convert to new dental software?
Our full process takes about one to two weeks. Much of this is dependent on your timeframe to complete the conversion checklist.
Can I schedule a test dental software conversion for today?
Generally speaking, no. Our conversion team usually needs three to five days to coordinate your data extractions. When you decide you’re ready to move forward, a conversion specialist will reach out to you to go over the timeline and help minimize your downtime.
How long does a data extraction take?
In the words of our esteemed conversion specialist, “I’ll tell you when it’s done.” ? We ask that you allow a few hours for this. Some extractions finish in ten minutes and others take hours. Things like your internet speed and the amount of data being extracted impact the time. Sometimes team members oops and open the software while the data is being extracted too (doh!). That means the conversion team has to start the process over.
How much downtime will I have during the conversion process?
During the test conversion, you’ll only need to stay out of your current software during the data extraction but can resume using it normally after. You’ll need to stay out of the software during the extraction for your final conversion as well, but afterward, you’ll only want to use it for reference, as any data you add won’t import into Practice-Web.
With that in mind, practice operations will only be impacted twice during the extractions which take a couple of hours. During the one or two business day window in which the data is being converted, you’ll still be able to view records in your old software, but you won’t be able to add to them.
Do all companies do a test conversion?
No. Test conversions, let alone risk-free test conversions, are rare in the dental software industry. However, we want you to be happy with our software and be able to move forward with confidence.
What if I’m not happy with the conversion?
Virtually all dentists are happy with their test conversions. If you’re not, and we can’t correct the reason you’re not, you can walk away without any obligation to us.
What types of things don’t import during a dental software conversion?
Our conversion specialist will go over a list with you that’s specific to the type of software you’re converting from. Each software is different.
Why don’t dental software conversions import 100% of the data accurately?
In some cases, it’s because the software you’re leaving encrypted the data. One of the larger software companies does this with social security numbers. Other times, it’s because the data is corrupt, the software you’re leaving was poorly designed, or fields are incomplete. The list goes on.
What happens with my images during a dental software conversion?
Practice-Web is not an imaging program, so you’ll need to maintain separate imaging software. However, our software bridges to most imaging software. You should be able to view x-rays and even your live intraoral camera through Practice-Web. Our team can go over the details with you and give information specific to your imaging software.
Will a software conversion help clean up my data?
Unfortunately, if your current database is full of bad data, it will only produce bad data. Converting it won’t help. If this is the case for you, our conversion specialists will likely advise you to begin with a blank database instead, so you can start from scratch and have everything look and work as it should.
How long after a dental software conversion should I keep my old software/ charts?
Deciding when to pull the plug on an old software provider is something to weigh carefully and can have legal implications. For that reason, you should consult a healthcare attorney familiar with HIPAA guidelines and your state requirements if you have any concerns. However, some general information is provided below.
Your state board mandates how long you need to keep dental charts and this can range anywhere from two to ten years per the ADA. Practices that accept Medicare/ Medicaid need to keep records for five years.
Some dentists converting from paper charts or server-based software simply keep their old records on hand for the full required period out of an abundance of caution. Others keep records in-office for 18 months or so to ensure all their active patients have cycled through. Then, they move the records to a secure off-site location.
Moving from a cloud-based solution is a bit different because you no doubt want to end your subscription and stop paying the company as soon as possible. Some cloud-based software companies make this easier than others. While they legally cannot block your access to patient PHI due to HIPAA laws, according to Daniel B. Frier, Esq., they may be able to make a case for charging you a reasonable fee for access. Depending on the terms of your contract and the quality of conversion, you may feel comfortable ending your contract and stopping payment to the cloud provider right away or you may want to maintain limited access to the data for a period of time after.