In a world ruled by Facebook messenger, Whatsapp and Kik, people expect dental software to come with instant messaging as standard. This is understandable so people are often surprised when we tell that Dentally doesn't have instant messenger.
In-App instant messaging provides quite the challenge when it comes to dental software. It's not an engineering challenge but it's a question of patient safety and care.
For example, if a vital piece of patient care information is passed through instant messaging between a practitioner and reception, like allergies to certain medicines, but this information is not recorded elsewhere then there is scope for some major issues to occur.
This is just one of the worries we have. We feel that in your dental software that everything related to a patient should be recorded publicly.
When we drilled down into why practices felt they needed instant messages it was for things like setting tasks, leaving non-medical notes about the patient and other things like that.
Luckily, Dentally already had many of these functions. It requires a slight mind shift but our non-medical notes are great for communication between staff members or perhaps reminders of the minutia of a patient's life. I have often seen practitioners use the notes section to remind themselves about a patient's holiday or other event which in turn leads to great patient care.
One thing we did notice is that the notes were often used for specific tasks for appointments. These notes, once used, where often left stuck on the patients account and not removed. To help combat this we introduced appointment notes.
This function can be used to help improve communication between reception and the practice room but we have also seen some practices using it to add essential tasks that are needed before the actual appointment.
But I really want instant messaging
Okay, we understand. If you really want instant messaging for your practice we have a few suggestions. There are plenty of instant messaging options out there, feel free to use your favourites but these are ours...
Slack - A modern and fun collaboration tool. Great for communications amongst teams and individuals. A wonderful set of tools and options, you can personalise it for your teams needs. There is no task manager and it does lack some collaboration features so it's not the perfect tool for every team. This is our personal favourite.
Hipchat - A professional team chat, built for businesses. Excellent value with free tiers of service offered. Supported by Zapier and has open API's for developers. Can be a bit tricky for the less computer savvy amongst us, it can be a little unintuitive. Excellent features.
Skype - Not just a video messaging app, you might be surprised to learn that it also supports text chat. This is often a favoured option as many people are comfortable with the interface. It's a very polished and full-featured product. It could be perfect for you.