Coming from the frustration of a busy periodontist using separate and disparate programs to run his practice, Pietro Di Battista, D.D.S., M.S.D., decided there must be a better way. He hired a software development team, and wanted software to reduce his paperwork burden, and follow the thought patterns that dentists use clinically for the name of this software- Dovetail (opens in new tab).
Dovetail through the years has garnered multiple awards for its dental practice management software (opens in new tab) and has offices in both Grandville, Michigan and Montreal, Quebec. This software was truly “Built by a dentist, for dentists” and is designed for a paperless office.
Dovetail goes heavy on the innovative features that connect with patients, and can encourage the all important patient engagement. This starts with a patient portal to allow them to do more even when outside the office. By way of example, there is streamlining of the check in process so patients complete the required paperwork at their convenience, ahead of time and without filling up the waiting room. There is also access to account statements, and without needing to involve the front office staff. Still other activities include updating personal information, medical history, insurance provider information, and making appointments.
Patient interactions also are brought into the modern era. Missed appointments and recalls are handled via email, which saves the cost and workload of monthly postcard reminders. Commonly preferred by younger patients, communication gets done via SMS texts- with a higher degree of engagement. Confirmations for appointments are done via text interactions to reduce the percentage of ‘No show’ appointments that impact a practice’s bottom line. Confirmed appointments are updated on the appointment schedule, to leave substantially less appointments that need a confirmation phone call from the front office.
There is a strong feature set for the clinical aspects well. Charting gets simplified by use of an odontogram, designed from the start to be customized, as it can be marked up electronically by the clinician. This makes it flexible for use by both general dental practitioners, and equally by specialists, with perio charting incorporated as well.
Progress notes also get easily created, to be enhanced with templates, with premade ones supplied, to also be further customized and shared among colleagues. The typing burden is reduced via a drag and drop interface. Important info can be entered via simple checklists, such as a patient's past medical history, or standard materials used at the practice for restorative procedures. Voice recognition technology can be used to bypass typing all of this in, but data can be entered via the keyboard also if the clinician prefers. Incomplete progress notes, an all too common event at a busy office, get automatically routed to a ‘Homework bin,’ for the dentist to catch up on once the office is less busy. Workflow gets enhanced from a single screen the ability to create a treatment plan, do a predetermination, check eligibility, and invoice- all from one location.
While Dovetail supports mobile, it is only for a single mobile platform: iOS, which is certainly useful to support an iPad (opens in new tab). This leaves out Android users- FYI: the dominant mobile platform- without support. The wrinkle here is that there is no native iOS app, usually preferred by users. Rather the software is optimized and approved for use on a 3rd generation iPad and higher running iOS 9.33 and higher via these browsers: Chrome (opens in new tab) or Safari (opens in new tab). Those that prefer to use it on a desktop can use Windows (unspecified which version, and no indication if it supports Windows 11 or not) via only the Chrome browser, or Mac OS X 10.9 and up, with either the Chrome or Safari browser.
The learning curve for Dovetail tends to be steep. Specifically, we encountered a user that was frustrated with Dovetail not working similarly to a prior dental practice software.
Combing through older reviews shows Dovetail with a lack of custom reporting and data analysis. In the last year this was improved upon, and now Dovetail has the function to “Create your own custom reports using any data points you’d like, organized in any way you’d like,” with charts configured for better analysis display.
Yet another shortcoming is that e-prescribe, a crucial feature in many US locales as well and an important tool for patient satisfaction (for prescriptions to be directly transmitted to the pharmacy so the patient is not waiting at pickup), is not native to the program. This feature requires a partner, DrFirst, for an additional subscription, at an unknown additional expense.
A number of methods are available for support. It starts with a toll free number, although the support hours and days are not detailed. Another option is via email, and there is a dedicated email address so support requests are kept separate from purchase inquiries for easier routing. A final method is an online portal.
Other options are not present, such as online chat, an online forum, webinars, and online videos.
Dovetail lacks any specific pricing on its site, but alternatively invites practices to give it a try via a free demo or trial. Almost needless to say, we would prefer some upfront pricing. After all, what’s the point of getting to this service, and only later to find out the pricing does not make sense for your practice.
Dovetail confirms that the platform is all inclusive, but in the details, it does require a few third party add-ons for items like e-claims, e-prescribe and SMS confirmations.
Additional research beyond the website finds out that Dovetail comes at a premium- with a starting price of a lofty $549 (£418) per month subscription- a higher cost than most of its competition.
Dovetail has some definite pros for your practice including patient engagement via SMS and email, a workflow that is streamlined for treatment plans and charting, and a patient portal that has more features than most. There are also some noteworthy disadvantages such as the high cost, the total lack of mobile apps, and not having the essential e-prescribing native to the program. While the overall feature set is likable, the higher cost, especially when compared with other dental practice management solutions, and our other issue does give us some pause.
Also check out our complete list of the best dental practice management software (opens in new tab)