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Authored on: March 5th, 2012

Where we've been...

2011 has been a busy year at Datacon. As always, we have welcomed new clients to our "family", helped existing clients modernize their systems, and provided continuing support and software improvements.

Beyond that, much of what we have done is "behind the scenes" and preparation for the future. We have made major improvements to our internal systems for providing support and our web site has been completely replaced with a new design that will support our growth in the new year. The web site now includes numerous support documents on various subjects that we consider to be "frequently asked questions". Many of you have taken advantage of the option to send a message to our support team using a form on the website. Often, this allows us to find the answers and get back to you at a time which is convenient for you.

Moving our software to a new platform was a huge task, one that many companies have not been able to accomplish. As we enter the new year, the majority of our clients have now upgraded to a Mac based server and we are excited to be able to provide new functionality based on the capabilities of this modern platform. Many questioned our decision to go to the Mac, but Apple is now the largest technology company in the world and we feel that we can leverage their advances for many years to come.

Our clients with Mac servers are already enjoying the benefits of a faster server, improved backup, simplified electronic claim submission, and more. As the year draws to an end, we are putting the finishing touches on the 3.6D software release which includes the Datacon Mobile web based product. This allows you to have secure access to basic patient and schedule information from an iPad, smartphone, or other devices that include a web browser. The 3.6D software will be released after the first of the year. This update includes some big changes to the appearance of our screens. We have tried to limit any changes to key strokes for those of you who have well rehearsed routines but at the same time we have included many new user interface elements that will make it easier for a novice user to understand how to use the software. We have made more extensive use of pop down menus, check boxes, and have provided new graphics to make the software more intuitive. We consider this to be the first of many steps forward and expect that you will enjoy using it.

Where we are going...

We are expecting 2012 to be a big year for Datacon. The ADA will be meeting here in San Francisco in the fall and we are going to take this opportunity to expand Datacon from a regional focus to nationwide availability. Our move to the Mac server makes it possible to work with any IT organization across the country for installation and service. We routinely train and support our clients using the Internet and we can do this just as effectively for someone two thousand miles from here. Our ability to use either PCs or Macs as workstations is unique and we feel that this will create great opportunities for growth. Many doctors coming out of school have been using Macs during their education and we have priced our software very competitively to allow someone just starting out the opportunity to take advantage of our practice management system.

We have lots of plans for improving the software including some big changes to charting, pcLink for iPad, more third party software integration, consent forms on the iPad, and more.

Look for more changes to our web site as our marketing, training and support efforts take advantage of the possibilities offered by the Internet. Early in the new year, we will add a user forum where our users can communicate with us or each other. We expect that this will be a valuable tool both for you and for us. We are continuing to add documentation to the support area of the site. The updated site will also include training videos. Employees coming to your practice who are new to Datacon will be able to view brief videos describing how to accomplish various common tasks. We will also be adding an events calendar, news, connections to Facebook and Twitter, and blog pages where we can publish articles like this one and receive comments from our registered users.

We hope to make a home for a growing Datacon community where we can all share information and news.

Authored on: March 5th, 2012

Your daily backup is something you should do every day you use your system. Your documentation and our staff remind you to check the results of your daily backup each business day. 

(See under “Mac Specific” for step by step instructions) If you don’t have a current backup and your server fails, chances are pretty good you will loose valuable practice data. Hopefully we all perform the task of setting the daily backup but the question we’ve heard lately is “How long will my external backup drives or DVDs last?” There is no sure-fire way of knowing when your backup media will come to the end of its useful life, but here are a few general guidelines:


According to the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, the life expectancy is about 1,000 “writes”. The storage, or archive expectancy is somewhere around 2-5 years. These estimates are based upon the storage environment being between 62 and 70 degrees F and 35 – 50% relative humidity. These are conservative guidelines; but ensure the integrity of your backup.

External Hard Drives:

According to the documentation included in the box, your Western Digital (Passport) External hard drive comes with a 3-year warranty. According to the Western Digital website, the drives should be stored in an environment between 41 and 95 degrees F. There is no mention of humidity. Hard drives purchased before 2008 should most likely be cycled out of rotation and new hard drives should be purchased.

New external hard drives will need to be formatted prior to first use. This is a very simple task that can be performed remotely by any of our support staff members. Please call our support line (800) 773-7878 for prompt assistance.

How important this information is relates to how important your practice data is. A short-term alternative to using the DVD-RW method or the External Hard Drive method is the use of a collection of thumb drives for emergency backup.

Note: It is important that all computers storing data should be placed on a regular backup routine.

Authored on: April 10th, 2012

Our announcement of Datacon Mobile has generated a lot of interest. We have received lots of calls and eMails through our website with questions and comments. We were also able to show Datacon Mobile running on iPads at our booth at CDA.

The list of features is growing rapidly and your feedback has allowed us to focus on areas that are of particular interest to potential users of this exciting new option. Two requested features that have already been implemented were the ability to cancel an appointment when confirming with a mobile device and the ability for the doctor to add a patient to the next day's schedule when a patient calls after hours with a problem.

To support these features, we have also added a schedule follow-up list to the software in your office. Whenever a patient cancels an appointment or is added for an emergency, the patient is placed on the list for follow-up. These new capabilities and more will be included in the 3.6D software that is currently in testing.

Datacon Mobile is only available if you are using a Mac server (Mac Mini or Mac Pro) with our latest software and have a high speed internet connection to your office.

And Speaking of Mobile...

There is a whole new type of practice out there that is an ideal candidate for Datacon. Maybe you know of someone who fits this description. Utilizing the MacBook Pro (laptop) you can carry around your whole practice! Many providers travel from location to location to practice their dentistry. By using the MacBook Pro you simply plug into the Internet when connectivity is needed, plug into a small printer when printing is needed and away you go! Now that’s mobile! This style of software utilization is only recommended for the one-person practice. If you know of someone who might be interested, please give us a call or visit our website to find out more!

Authored on: April 10th, 2012

Did you know that the perio charting feature has been available in your Datacon software since 1990? 

An interesting side note is when it was first released; we were not yet using PC and Mac workstations. The onscreen perio display required a special color terminal costing about $1500. It was nowhere near as beautiful as it is now utilizing today’s technology.

“Do I have that in my software?” is a question we hear time and again at CDA Sessions, and various training meetings. And, our answer is always “YES!” Our software is constantly evolving to meet your practice needs.

The perio charting draws a graphically accurate picture as you type in the patient’s pocket depth. If you have a workstation in the operatory the patient can see how their pockets depths look in real time.

Many consider our printed perio exam report to be the BEST on the market! We have had many requests to make this available as a separate product to be integrated with other packages but it remains a Datacon exclusive and one of your unique benefits. Contact our software support team for help in setting up your personalized perio charting feature.

Authored on: July 2nd, 2012

Entering "Date of Service" on private payments or adjustments provides additional control over how credits are applied and simplifies the process of answering those patient questions.

Date of Service on Payments and Adjustments
  As many of you have probably noticed, the Payments and Adjustments screen now includes a date field titled "Date of Service".  In the past, if you were using the "Open Item" accounting option, insurance payments and credits would apply to the transactions on the form but private payments and credits would apply to the oldest balance.  Specifying the patient on payments or adjustments and specifying the producer on adjustments could instruct the software to apply the credit based on patient or producer.  Payments or adjustments posted on the charge screen would apply to the charges posted on that day. 
  With this update you can now force a private payment or adjustment to apply to services performed on any date. When posting a payment or adjustment and entering the date of service, you may use the search key or icon to show the ledger.  Selecting a transaction will choose that date.  Note that the ledger shown for this purpose displays the amount receivable on each transaction.  If a private payment applies to more than one date of service, you can break it down into multiple payment transactions and group them like you would for an insurance check.
The patient and date of service fields on the payment screen are optional.  There is a item in miscellaneous options that determines whether or not the cursor stops at patient and date of service when a payment is entered. If this option is turned off, you can still move the cursor up to either field.
Date of Service in the Patient Ledger
  The patient ledger now includes a search option that allows you to see anything related to a particular date of service. By default, the patient ledger only shows financial transactions.  When you search for a date of service, the ledger will also display chart notes, prescriptions, and medical alerts posted on that date.  In addition to transactions posted on the requested date of service, the software will display any payments or adjustments posted to that date of service and all insurance transactions that are attached to any form that billed for treatments on that date.  
Authored on: August 2nd, 2012

Your Datacon software includes the ability to keep track of dental laboratories and lab cases.

Dental Labs and Lab Cases
  Our most recent update brings a whole new area of functionality to the software. Prior to this, labs or lab cases could be tracked using User Defined Lists but now both are integrated into the software. On the Main Menu on the lower right, there is a new item titled Dental Labs and Cases. There are currently four items: Dental Laboratories, All Lab Cases, Producers with Lab Cases, and Lab Case Summary Report.  The Patient screen under Patient Chart includes a new item titled Lab Cases. The visit screen in the list of today's patients also provides access to Lab Cases.
Dental Laboratories
  Any number of dental labs can be created. Each lab record includes name and address, phone and fax numbers, eMail address, contact name, specialty and notes. The Dental Laboratory screen shows this information and a monthly summary of delivered cases with the number of cases and the lab fees for each month.  A list of all cases sent to this lab is available here.  This list shows patient names, case status and a relevant date plus notes on the case. Each lab also has a ledger that allows notes to be posted.  
Lab Cases
  The patient screen and the visit screen for today's patients both now include a menu item for Lab Cases.  This selection shows a list of cases for the patient.  Cases are created by adding to this list.  The information on a lab case includes the lab, patient, and producer plus the case status, notes on the case, lab fees, and three dates.  The dates on a lab case are Date of Service, Date Case Sent, and Delivery Date.  When a case is added the Date of Service is automatically set by the software.  When the Case Status is changed to "Case Sent" the Date Case Sent field is set to today. The estimated Delivery Date can be entered at this time.  When the Case Status is set to "Delivered" the Delivery Date is set to today. Lab Fees can be entered when the case is delivered and the software can generate a report at month end to reconcile with billing from each lab. Case Status can also be set to "Case Re-Sent" if a case is sent back for changes, "Re-Done" when the case has to be re-done, and "Completed" after the patient's visit.
Producers with Lab Cases
  This selection from the Labs and Cases area on the main menu shows a list of all producers that have any lab case assigned to them.  Selecting a doctor name from the list will show the list of cases for that doctor.  We expect that this will be a handy place for the doctor or assistant to review the status of any of their cases that are pending.
Lab Case Summary Report
  The Lab Case Summary Report provides an easy way to get summary and detailed information about cases sent or delivered during the month or any period of time.  The report breaks cases down into three categories. These categories are Outstanding Cases, Delivered and Completed Cases, and Cases that were Re-Done.  Each category shows patient details plus the total number of cases and the total of the case fees for the category.  The Lab Case summary Report can be sorted by Lab for reconciling with billing from the lab, by Doctor on Account for dividing labs fees between partners, or by Producer on Case.
Authored on: June 29th, 2012

Clinical Tasks allows you to specify all of the individual tasks you perform during a dental procedure. This information allows our scheduler to accurately determine the time requirements for a treatment plan and provides the basis for the automatic creation of chart notes.

Chart Note Templates – Note templates have been in the software for a while but we have expanded on their use and capabilities. The simplest template consists of a preset block of text to be included in a note. A more complex template contains an outline with check boxes for items to be included in the note.  There can also be areas in a template where text can be entered to complete the information to be saved.  Upon exiting the template, the software assembles the selected items into a complete note that can be edited and saved. Note templates for diagnosis and for treatment can be defined for each procedure category.  Diagnosis notes are entered when treatment plans are created. They would include diagnostic information such as cracked restoration, decay, etc.  Treatment notes are entered when the procedures are completed. 
Treatment Notes for Visit - This is a standard code that is posted from the Patients Needing Charting screen by clicking a check box.  The template for this note would contain information you wish to record that is not specific to individual treatments. This might include notes about a consultation, notes about anesthetics or procedures that apply to the entire visit.
Clinical Tasks – A more sophisticated method of creating treatment notes  for a visit automatically creates a template based on the tasks that are performed during each procedure.  In Treatment Profiles we can define a collection of Clinical Tasks that are common to various treatment procedures. These might include seating the patient, consultation, pre-op and post-op x-rays, administering anesthetic, placing a rubber dam, prepping a tooth, etc.  Each task can have a note template assigned with text and options that are specific to that task.  The anesthetic task might include options for type and quantity of anesthetic for instance.  Other tasks might specify materials or just simply state that the task was performed. Once these tasks are created, they can be assigned to each treatment procedure and the amount of time they require can be specified. When a treatment plan is entered, the software can automatically calculate the amount of time needed for the appointment based on the tasks required by the various treatments.  When the treatment is completed, the software can automatically create a chart note template that only includes notes relevant to the tasks required by the treatments performed 
Authored on: September 5th, 2012

Our Labor Day Weekend software release includes some new things that we are pretty excited about.

We have completed the task of updating the appearance of all the screens. We have moved some things around on the Main Menu in hopes that they will seem to be grouped more logically. The way the scripts are handled has changed as well, to make it less likely that these changes will have an adverse affect when running your scripts.


Due to popular demand, we have added Lab Cases to the Patient Appointment screen. You can add a lab case or update it's status right from the schedule. We have also added a merge field to simplify the addition of the lab case status to the notes on the schedule. The print key now presents a pop-down menu with a list of print options instead of requiring a Yes or No answer for each possibility. For those with keyboard habits, the software still responds to the "Y" and "N" keys. We can also now create more than one customized report for any screen.


The big change in this update is the schedule screen. It now has a new appearance that is consistent with the rest of the software. We have simplified the display when you are just reviewing the schedule, the search possibilities only show when needed. New navigation buttons at the top make it simple to page between hours, days, and columns. When reviewing the schedule for a producer there are also buttons for flipping through the weeks. Eyes popped and mouths dropped in our offices when we first demonstrated drag and drop on the schedule screen. You can now drag the schedule up and down or you can grab the cursor in the time column and drag it up or down to scroll the schedule thru a whole day. You can grab an appointment and drag it to a new location on the same day or reschedule it using the search engine. Our scheduler can be very smart about automatically finding the best spot for an appointment, but some people still like to play.

We have also enhanced the way lists can be manipulated using the mouse. When reviewing lists of accounts,patients, transactions, or whatever the software has always responded to a single click by moving to the clicked record and selecting it. This makes it difficult to use the mouse to move the cursor to a record to be deleted, printed, or moved. With this update, a click moves the cursor to the record. A second click selects the record. For lists that allow records to be moved up or down you can now simply grab a record and drag it up or down. When reviewing a long list, you can grab the cursor and drag it up or down to scroll through the entire list.

Authored on: October 4th, 2012

Time Clock software keeps track of your staff hours so you don't have to. Easy reporting, accrual of vacation and sick benefits and more!

We are pleased to announce the release of version 2.4 of our Time Clock software. With this update, we have updated Time Clock to match the look and feel of the current dental software release. e print options in Time Clock now match those you have had in the dental software. is includes support for printing to PDF - now your HR person can print the time reports and easily save them to a workstation or send them to your payroll administrator or accountant.

e major new feature in Time Clock 2.4 is Sick and Vacation Time accruals.

e software handles a broad assortment of options for accruing sick or vacation time including hourly, weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly, monthly, and annual. Hourly accrual is a good option for part- time employees and accumulates sick or vacation time based on the portion of the annual hours that have been worked. Weekly and bi-weekly accruals can occur on any day of the week. Semi-monthly and monthly accruals can occur on any day of the month and yearly accruals can occur in any month. Each employee can be assigned any accrual method. Sick and vacation accrual settings for employees are completely separate. Each can specify the accrual method, annual hours to be worked, annual benefit, and a maximum accrual. Employee accrual settings are posted to the time card making it simple to change the benefits on any effective date or grant benefits after some period of employment.

An employee can review the current vacation or sick accrual at any time. ere is also a sick and vacation accrual report available. is report can be run for an employee for any range of dates and can be summarized by day, week, month, quarter, or year. is report shows both the accumulation and use of sick and vacation time and any changes to the employee's accrual settings. If you are already using the time clock software, this is a free update. Let Datacon’s Time Clock software remove the headache of tracking accrued leave time.

Authored on: October 4th, 2012

Datacon Mobile provides a secure way to access your practice data from anywhere you happen to be, provided you have access to the Internet and a web browser.  This means you can use your iPhone, iPad, Android Smartphone, or home computer to review financial information, check patient records, and even access documents or images in the patient folders.

Have you started using this feature?  Weigh in with your comments.