Dentrix Ascend has a lot to like, such as the practice analysis, and the multiple methods of support. However, we are frustrated at the lack of pricing information, and the missing features such as limited hours of support and the missing mobile apps will frustrate at least some users.
No long term commitments
Toll free phone support
Self scheduling for appointments
Streamlined walkout statement creation
Limited hours and weekdays only for support
No free trial
Lack of mobile apps
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A cloud-based dental practice management tool, by Henry Schein One, Dentrix Ascend is based in American Fork, Utah in the tech heavy, mountainous region known as the ‘Silicon Slopes.’ Sold as a SaaS (software as a service) subscription, it provides support for both the front and back office, together with clinical practice tools.
Recall that cloud-based architecture is an ideal solution for off-site issues, such as the dentist needing access to records when out of the office, and also for busy, multi-site practices that need to coordinate office hours among several providers based in different locations.
The front office is the heart of any dental practice, where patients are both checked in and also out. It is really critical that this runs efficiently for a well run office. Dentrix Ascend performs to this standard with a strong feature set, with streamlined patient check-in, a single screen that has all the crucial patient information organized in a single location, with further details on demand- just a click away. Checkout has also been optimized, and to aid in keeping accounts current is the Ledger view. Finally, modern patients want to minimize their wait, with a desire to be on their way, and Dentrix Ascend is built to do that, such as having the ability to create walkout statements quickly.
Another critical activity at a practice is scheduling, and appointments can be easily entered from the Appointment Book along with confirmations. Also, treatment plans can be entered from the same screen, and there is an option to view the entire day of appointments of what the next day will be like. Another feature is Online Booking, so patients can ‘Self schedule’ appointments- even when the office is closed. Another value add feature is that patients are automatically reminded for a return appointment without making or sending out pesky and not cost effective postcard reminders that many dental offices still use.
Dentrix Ascend also supports business activities. The Insurance Manager is used to track the patient’s insurance plan, along with eligibility. Plans are archived as they expire, with the capability to keep track of up to ten insurance plans for each patient. Dentrix Ascend can also monitor Business Metrics to create custom performance reports and give insight into a practice’s financial health. There is also an assurance of security via the Location Access Restrictions function that enables control of permissions via the level of access, which extends to remote login clearance.
A serious shortcoming is that Dentrix Ascend lacks support for mobile apps, meaning there is no support for either the iOS, nor Android platforms. Rather, the company suggests to use an iPad, and go through the browser, which is more of a workaround in our mind.
Also, we found numerous user complaints for common shortcomings in their workflow. One annoyance is not being able to print out route slips up to three days in advance. Additionally, preauthorizations cannot be sent to a secondary insurer, only to the primary. There is also a lack of a new patient intake form online to collect a patient’s past medical history, which forces offices to resort to a paper form, and then scan the completed document into the system.
Dentrix Ascend includes support as part of the subscription, without an additional cost. The first is phone support, via a toll free number, which is accessed by calling the main number, and hitting ‘Option 2.’ The hours of support are limited to 6:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Mountain Standard Time, and only on weekdays. A curiosity is that this phone option remains left off of the Support Page which pushes the other option, email, which is not a HIPAA compliant method of communication.
The site continues to lack some other support options, which encompass an online portal, and a chat option. Some additional support materials are available, such as a FAQ, a support database and multiple online videos including “Accessing Patient Records,” and “Searching for Appointment Openings by Provider.”
Dentrix Ascend is purchased via a monthly subscription. Without a contract, there is no long term commitment, with a “Pay-As-You-Go, Love It or Leave It,” per the company. The pricing info is opaque, with the website providing an area to input your contact information including name, email, phone number and practice name, for contact with a representative. It also inquires if there are six or more practice locations.
A definite selling point is that in addition to no long term contract, Dentrix Ascend does not lock away the practice’s data, which would then force you to continue. Alternatively, it states to “Simply send us a request for your information, and we’ll deliver it in a standard format that makes it easy to move to another practice management solution.”
The opaque pricing model means that there is absolutely no pricing information on the site. Searching beyond the company website, we located an initial setup cost of $995 (£799), and then $500 (£402) per month for up to 10 users. This makes it a lousy deal for solo practitioners, and a fair cost for practices with multiple dentists. For electronic claims submissions, with the advantage of faster payment, there is no additional charge.
Dentrix Ascend remains, for a number of valid reasons, a popular dental practice management solution. These encompass the multiple methods for support, the streamlining for front end processes like check in and check out, and the insight provided via custom performance reports of a practice’s success with identification for areas to improve. However, significant shortcomings include that there is no free trial which competitors offer, the pricing is uber opaque, and the limited hours of support. In our final analysis, Dentrix Ascend is overall mixed, so confirm that it offers the features your practice needs before making the choice for it.
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Jonas P. DeMuro is a freelance reviewer covering wireless networking hardware.