Frequently Asked Questions
The short version is that through experience and leveraging technology, ReminderDental minimized overhead in every area that didn’t affect performance. By doing so ReminderDental provides superior service at a lower price than it’s competitors.
Now the longer version.
If I were looking for an endo handpiece and there where several brands to choose and most were $2000-4000, or this other one that was only $250, I'll admit, I would be pretty skeptical. I would assume that there was some catch. Maybe it only worked with super expensive consumables, or would only work once a day, or something that made it worth less than all the others.
Like this, I know that your patient communication is a BIG deal to you. This represents the first line defense of keeping your chairs full, freeing up time for the front office staff, and providing critical information to keep things running smoothly. If it is so important, why don't I charge more for it?
Something I learned early in life was the phrase "Excess profits breeds ruinous competition". Because of this, I believe that the cost of any service should be proportional to the cost of providing that service and have always worked to bring down costs.
For most appointment reminder companies, the main costs are typically:
- Costs associated with the supply of goods
- Product Development
- Product Support
- Let's face it, the cost of sending text messages, emails and placing phone calls, or in other words our "Supplies" aren't that expensive. In fact, the average cost is about $7/month per office and will go even lower in the future.
Unlike a receptionist answering the phones were answering the phone on Tuesday has no effect on Wednesday, software development is also something that only needs to be done once for each solution. Also, to some degree, it doesn't matter to our servers whether we have 5 offices, 500, or 50,000. In technology, things continuously get easier to do over time. What may have cost us $2,000,000 to build may only cost someone $50,000 in a few years. Because of this, including development costs into the monthly price is not an ideal way to establish prices.
If ReminderDental had used development costs to set prices and someone else comes in with a similar service but with lower development costs, we couldn't compete. It is also why we will continue to improve our product day after day. While this isn't the place to discuss all the features we have that exceed those of our competition, a superior and more flexible service is our main focus. Second to that would be expanding our services so offices will no longer need to use a reminder service, a review management service, and a statistics service.
Once a company has figured out their supply chain and finished their product development, it is time to sell. A sales staff is expensive. It is actually probably the #1 expense in a company such as ours. A good salesman will always have stars in their eyes with visions of making hundreds of thousands by selling your product. The only way they get a good commission is if your product generates enough profit to share generously. Once you build a company that relies on this model, it is hard to change. A sales staff doesn't typically lead to any customer loyalty, nor will it allow your company to adjust to shifting market forces as the prices in your industry fall.
An alternate way is to grow through word of mouth. Rather than pay a sales staff high commissions and residual income, I can provide the service to the customers at the same cost that would have been our profit with the sales team and let your customers positive reviews be your sales force. As I said, our low price is one of our potential customer's greatest concerns, but when our customers come by referral, this isn't the case. It actually removes objections and creates loyalty. Nearly 30% of our customers have never used any other reminder service because they were all too expensive.
A referral driven company starts slower than one driven by a sales team making thousands of calls per week, but once going becomes an unstoppable force. With great service, lower overhead, and loyal customers, a company such as this can adapt to any changes in the market.
Of course, you also want to know you get product support. At ReminderDental, Google's Gmail service has always been an inspiration, which is why we do that differently as well. Call another appointment reminder company and you will get a "Product Support Specialist", which really just means someone that knows how to navigate the menus for you. If you have a problem, suggestions, or if things aren't working right, they can try to help navigate you around the problem, or make a note of it for someone else. To me, that is a waste of money. If something isn't working properly for you, it likely isn't working properly for every other customer. I don't want to help you navigate around that problem, I understand if something went wrong, or simply needs to be clarified and fix it. This is why our first line support staff are also software developers/engineers.
Management is important, it provides direction, vision and consistency. It also, like sales, doesn't have a lot of value to a customer once the account is set up. At ReminderDental, all members work together in software development to bring a unified solution.
With a lean operation, eliminating waste, ReminderDental stands to be the patient communication product of choice now, and in the future. As the customer base increases, it is possible to add in significant offerings such as web hosting, website creation, online patient forms and more. With more customers, we can spread the development costs over a larger group so rather each company hiring a contractor to do the exact same thing that may cost hundreds or thousands per office, we can do it once for $5/month.
* Licensing fees from various practice managing software companies are passed on. There are no licensing fees for OpenDental users, Dentrix is $35/month per office.
*Any Licensing fees from various practice managing software companies are passed on to the user. There are no licensing fees for OpenDental and many other practice management softwares. Dentrix has a licensing fee of $35/month per office for write-back capabilities (Not applicable to all Dentrix users).
That means there is no risk to sign up, and if you ever decide to cancel for any reason, we will refund your last month of service.
The only limitation is one per office.
A database is like a collection of Excel spreadsheets. Each "spreadsheet" in a database is called a table. Databases have a special language they use to retrieve individual rows of information from the table called SQL (Structured Query Language). A very simple query would be something like "SELECT * FROM Patients" which would return everything from the Patients table. Queries can be simple, or very complex taking hundreds of lines of code to correctly identify the information needed in multiple tables, perform comparisons, mathematical calculations before returning those results to you (or your practice management software) to be viewed.
First, make sure you remove any old software from the server that may be accessing the database. If you have migrated from one Appointment Reminder platform to another, and then again, make sure you don't have 3 services all accessing the database needlessly. Doing an inventory of a server this week showed a server that had DemandForce, Legwork, and ReminderDental all installed. In addition to the others, SikkaSoft was installed, which from what we heard makes a connection to the database every 30 seconds with a query that takes about 15 seconds. That is per computer it is installed on, so if it is running on the server and 1-2 workstations, it could be easy to overwhelm the Database.
Upgrading from an older database version can have a drastic impact on performance.
For OpenDental users, consider upgrading from MySQL 5.5 (Released in 2010) to version 5.6 (2013). While MySQL 5.7 and 8.0 is out as of April of 2018 and should offer even more improvements, they are not officially supported by OpenDental so I won't recommend it. The upgrade is free, but make sure you do it on a weekend and make a backup so you have time to finish. Upgrading to 5.6 is HIGHLY recommended. I was executing a simple query joining the appointments to the procedures, which on 5.5 took 545 seconds. Upgrading to 5.6 dropped that to under a second. That is using the same query, same data - only difference was upgrading to 5.6.
Whether you upgrade or not, we also highly recommend you switch your MySQL tables from MyISAM to InnoDB (takes just a few minutes http://www.opendental.com/manual/mysqlinnodb.html), it is just which storage engine the database uses. The main advantage here is that MyISAM when querying a table with LOCK that table so that nobody else can change it / read from it. With InnoDB it does the same thing, but rather than locking the entire table, it only locks the rows it needs. That way multiple computers/services can be accessing the same tables at the same time, this is especially important on older computers that are running 5.5.
While ReminderDental makes every effort to design software that has minimal impact on your servers performance, as you can see it requires a team effort to get the best performance.
- CPU (2GHz Minimum- 3.0GHz+ Recommended)
- Memory (8GB - 16-32GB Recommended)
- HDD (7200RPM with 32MB Cache Minimum - M.2 NVMe SSD Recommended)
- 100Mb Minimum, Gigabit recommended
Trivia - An interesting scenario happened to a friend of mine years ago that purchased an old "supercomputer" that was the size of a fridge and had 300 200Mhz (0.2GHz) processors in it. This computer had "tons" of horsepower for its day when you multiply the 300 * 200, but it performed horribly for database queries because each query could only use a single processor. For a dental office, place more importance on a higher speed before more cores. More speed means more electricity pulled into the CPU, which generates heat. At some point, it became easier for CPU manufacturers to add more cores at a lower speed which had lower heat.
Memory is the second most important thing. You want a lot of it, and you want it fast. If you aren't running at least 8GB DDR3 1333MHz, consider upgrading (Please note that to use more than 4GB RAM you need to be using 64 bit Windows, you can find this out by clicking "Properties" of "My Computer"). When the Hard Drive retrieves all the info to be processed, it needs to hold it in Memory which spoon feeds the CPU as much as it can handle at any given time. Where your Hard Drive operates at a speed of milliseconds, Memory is nanoseconds, if you don't have enough - be prepared to wait. Open Task Manager by right-clicking on the taskbar and selecting it there. Under "Performance" check to see how much memory is in use. Then realize that number isn't accurate but is a guideline. Theoretically, you should not see any performance drop till 100% memory is used, it isn't true. I try to keep mine under 40-50%. Consider upgrading to 16-32GB.
Trivia - I recently helped my brother with his CBCT, which was taking 5 minutes to reconstruct the scan. I had brought in a server with 48GB RAM and Dual 6 Core 2.4GHz and SSD to compete with the vendor supplied 16GB RAM Single 3.7GHz 4 Core using old HDD. Because the CBCT software could only see a single CPU, even though 2 were installed, the job ran slower. In this particular case, you would want a CPU like the Intel Xeon Processor E7-8894 v4 with 24 Cores at 2.4Ghz (Turbo Boost to 3.4GHz), retails for only $9,000... In actuality we found a similar one on eBay for under $1,000 - but when your software can use all the cores, but only on a single processor then you do what you can.
Old Hard Drives - like the ones nearly everyone has in their servers are like old record players. They store information on spinning disks. The speed that information can be retrieved depends on how fast it spins, and how many places it has to go looking for that information. Don't compromise here, get at least a 7200RPM drive, or better yet an SSD. An SSD will improve the performance of Windows more than the Database, but really - it is worth it. If you can, the M.2 PCIe NVMe drives are the best with a transfer rate of about 2,000MB per second, as opposed to 300MB per second for your average SATA drive and don't cost that much more. You can get a 512GB / 1TB drive for your main C:\ drive which has your operating system and Database, and then use the slower drives to store images and documents.
The network is a tricky one because nobody wants to crawl through the ceilings redoing the wiring, but many times you can simply replace your Switch with a new Gigabit switch and have it run 10X faster. If you have an office of 8 computers, I would pick up a 16 port switch such as this one: NETGEAR 16-Port Gigabit Ethernet Unmanaged Switch. Having a few extra ports will let you add new devices to the network such as printers, scanners, Cone Beam CT and so on. I like this one because it is quiet, small, and is very affordable. If you need more, they make them in 24, 32 and 48 port switches. Sometimes I have had to replace the wall jack - there was nothing wrong with the wire, but replacing the jack jumped me from 10Mb to 1000Mb.
ReminderDental works with multiple resellers to provide a value add to their service. ReminderDental is already the most affordable patient communication platform on the market, but when you work with us as a reseller you can get even better pricing. To qualify for reseller pricing, you must have at least 10 offices. You will be responsible for sales, installation, training, and handling first level support. We handle any problems that have to do with the system.
Data Integration Solutions
Integrating with dental data is hard. If you don't want to do it alone, contact us. We have a simple solution. While other companies may provide an "API" solution that just provides you access to develop your own solution, by working with us you only need to supply the SQL Query which defines what information you need, and where you want it sent and let us take care of the rest. Our goal is to make it easy for your new or existing business to access data in an automated simple way, that is also affordable for the new start up that also becomes more affordable as you grow.
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