Ken Fitzgerald is vice president of IMS Specialty Services Inc.

OP: What should orthodontists look for in a practice-management system?

Fitzgerald: Orthodontists should look at a number of areas when selecting the best practice-management software for their practice. 1) How solid is the company behind the software? 2) How reliable is the software? 3) How good is the customer service? 4) Is the program continuously being enhanced? 5) What are the costs of maintenance and upgrades? 6) What are the costs in the long run as the practice and the system grow?

OP: How does IMS’s Digital Office differ from other practice-management packages?

Fitzgerald: IMS’s Digital Office is the only system that can cater to practices wanting “everything,” while operating in a paperless mode, and for those wishing to watch the budget until they’re ready to go paperless. Digital Office is also the only practice-management software that was created from the ground up as a tool to manage practices while creating the most efficient and profitable practice imaginable. While Digital Office is rich with features, since its inception it has stood out as the fastest, most reliable system in its class.

OP: How long does installation take?

Fitzgerald: Installation of the system into an office usually takes 1 or 2 days. Training may take between 3 and 5 days, depending on the size and sophistication of the system and practice. It is crucial that the installation and training be free of interruptions to ensure that staff are properly trained. A small percentage of patients can usually be seen for appointments on the last day of training, to give a “live” performance as the last day of training.

OP: What’s next at IMS?

Fitzgerald: Development of IMS’s Digital Office will never cease. In addition to adding dozens of new features every year, staying up with or ahead of technology is also a primary focus at IMS. Internet connectivity poses many issues, and IMS is developing ways to combat these issues while allowing complete flexibility as to cost, performance, durability, peripheral software and hardware vendors, operating systems, and database systems used as part of an IMS application. z