Thursday, October 4, 2018

Patterson Eaglesoft To Remove Integration with DemandForce and Sesame Communications...

 

Patterson Dental Logo.jpg

Are you an Eaglesoft user? Do you love the integration the program provides? Are you currently using DemandForce or Sesame Communications in your practice? If so, get ready to miss that integration you’re so happy to have. Patterson recently made the decision to eliminate the connections between Eaglesoft and those two products.

 

In mid to late summer, Patterson Dental, owner of Eaglesoft, sent a letter to its users that also utilize DemandForce and Sesame. The letter stated:

Eaglesoft has elected to terminate its current interface agreements with Internet Brands, effective October 31, 2018. At that time, any interface between Eaglesoft and Internet Brands’ products, including Demandforce and Sesame Communications, including any data exchanged between these products and Eaglesoft will no longer be permitted.

In dentistry—no matter who you are, whether you work in a small office or corporate office, or what aspect of care you provide—you have one job: Supporting the patient. Everyone in dentistry has one employer: The patient. Everyone in dentistry *should have one focus and that focus should be the patient*. We all work for the patient. They are at the center of what we do and the sole person we are responsible to.

As a dentist running my own practice, I’m frustrated by the ways this decision by Patterson hampers my ability to support my patients. As a journalist, I felt the need to run down the story and report on what I found.

I have a big problem with corporate speak that spins profit and share holder value as noble under the charade of being more “helping the doctor better serve the patient.” That talking point hasn’t been rolled out yet, but it underscores the primary problem I have with this decision: Eliminating the doctor’s choices in this way does not better serve the patient.

Over the years, I’ve seen plenty of tech companies try to use proprietary systems to force users to stay with their platform. The lack of choice is touted as a good thing. However, I think that in almost any situation competition is a good thing. It creates an environment where people try their very best because if they don’t, someone else most assuredly will—and the customers will follow. I worry that eliminating the ability of the customer to migrate to your competitors, allows companies to rest on their laurels and not prioritize improvement or innovation in the same way. The opposite of this is open source integration, when you let everyone compete and the best products win. The sudden market for digital impression scanners and mills is a great example of this. You can buy the scanner you like best and if you want to mill, you can buy the mill you like best. The spurs competition, which creates better products, which ultimately benefits the patients. That’s what I’m in favor of!

In the case of Patterson’s decision, it is important to acknowledge that DemandForce and Sesame *did* enter into an agreement with Henry Schein, one of Patterson’s main competitors. I can understand if Patterson had concern about how this dual access could be compromising. That’s would be a decent enough argument—if they’d offered it or any explanation—but it still hurts the dental offices caught in the middle, which means it hurts the patients of those offices. So, my question remains: How does this help the patient? If you are worried about security, write better code, but don’t use your customers and their patients in some corporate game of chicken.

This isn’t the first time Eaglesoft considered a move like this. A few years back there was an issue with Gendex and Patterson attempted to eliminate its integration. It wasn’t too long before good IT people figured out how to address the concern without cutting ties. The company never apologized and tried to cover it up with corporate speak on how it was actually a good thing. Once again, I’m at a loss as to how the patient benefited from the doctor being unable to take x-rays with his or her existing system.

I have no idea what the affected dental offices will do this time around. This very well may cost them money as they have to reconfigure how they do business due to Patterson’s choices. There may be broken contract fees or yearly charges that are already paid. There may be new setup fees or they may be locked into services that they don’t want to use or contracts that they must sign and pay for, but now have no choice. There has been no word from Patterson or Eaglesoft to address these concerns, which adds insult to injury and just isn’t a great way of doing business.

Before I wrote this article, I wanted to make sure I had the full story, so I contacted Eaglesoft in my capacity as Technology Editor and Chief Dental Editor of Dental Products Report. They confirmed that this was, in fact, moving forward. When I asked if they had a position, this is what they had to say:

Internet Brands, the parent company of Demandforce and Sesame Communications, announced the completion of an agreement to combine its dental products, including Demandforce and Sesame Communications, into a joint venture with a directly competing practice management software company. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a separation of our agreement with them. Patterson offers competitive alternatives available in Eaglesoft, including RevenueWell, Solutionreach, and others and Patterson will continue to look for ways to expand our portfolio of solutions available to Eaglesoft customers.

They “will continue to look for ways to expand our portfolio of solutions available to Eaglesoft customers.” Until they don’t. When they have a reason to cut off those “expanded portfolio of solutions,” they will. The past tells us this will happen because they’ve already done it twice.

I am an Eaglesoft user in my practice, but I am not a customer of DemandForce or Sesame. Henry Schein, Patterson’s competitor, owns Dentrix and Dentrix is a sponsor of this blog. With all those disclaimers in mind, I want to explain to you why this post was so important for me to write. Quite honestly, I’m fed up with my profession being held hostage by these types of situations.

I’m fortunate to have a platform to voice my concerns and I’m taking this opportunity to speak up for my fellow colleagues in private practice. I’d like to think I am giving a voice for those whose only choice will be to complain to their local Patterson sales representative (and that representative has a snowball’s chance in the Sahara of getting the word to *anyone* at the top of the corporate ladder who really needs to hear this.)

I’m open to a response from Patterson on this and will be happy to post is verbatim here if they choose to reach out to me.

 

DemandForce

What DemandForce provides:

Automate Appointment Reminders
Call Tracking
Reactivate Lost Patients
Manage Online Reviews
Enhance Your Practice Listings
Sesame Communications

What Sesame provides:

Patient Communications
Web Design
Search Engine Optimization
Pay per Click advertising
Social Media & your online Social Media presence
Integration with Health Grades

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