Dr. Elizabeth Vella Caruana in Waterdown, Ontario

The Situation

Switching from clinical and practice management software developed by a vendor based in the United States to the locally-developed ABELDent program in early January 2010 was a fairly easy decision for Elizabeth Vella Caruana, B.Ch.D., D.D.S. As the owner-operator of Cedar Springs Dental in Waterdown, Ontario, Dr. Vella Caruana found that the switch changed the way she supports the changing needs of her expanding family practice—for the better.

Serving more than 400 patients (ages 18 months to 90 years) per month, Dr. Vella Caruana and her team address a wide variety of dental needs including general checkups, cleanings and emergencies. They also offer restorative services and dental surgical procedures such as root canals and wisdom teeth extractions.

A sole practitioner, Dr. Vella Caruana runs her clinic with two hygienists, a treatment coordinator and an office manager. Cedar Springs Dental is committed to providing high quality dental care for the Waterdown, Burlington, Dundas, Oakville, Carlisle and surrounding communities.

The Challenge

An early adopter of clinical and practice management software, Dr. Vella Caruana began using her previous system when she was an associate dentist at a larger practice before opening her own clinic in 2005.

"When I opened Cedar Springs Dental, I chose to continue using the clinical and practice management system that I was used to," explains Dr. Vella Caruana. "After using the U.S. system for less than four years, I felt that the customer support for Canadian dental practitioners was slipping and upgrades were becoming more difficult to manage. At the same time, our practice began to grow and I wanted to hire additional team members. I started attending dental trade shows and quickly noticed that the people I meet and potentially wanted to hire had ABELDent experience. This led me to compare ABELDent to other systems and I discovered that it was much better for charting, billing and scheduling. It was then that I realized that switching to ABELDent could help my practice grow."

The Solution

In selecting ABELDent, Dr. Vella Caruana looked for a solution that would change and grow with her expanding practice. After the hiring of professionals who had been trained on ABELDent, she says that the second most important factor in choosing ABEL is that it’s a Canadian-based local company. "The company’s customer service centre is near our community and ABEL’s development team has a solid understanding of the professional Canadian dental landscape and its changing needs," she says.

Another motivating factor came from the clinical side because ABELDent allowed the practice to use bridging imaging software built into the system. It allows our clinical team to, "view our patient’s X-rays right from the charting screen on computers in the treatment room," says Dr. Vella Caruana. "With our previous vendor’s software that would have been impossible unless we purchased additional modules. That would have added more complexity to the system along with increased cost."

Dr. Vella Caruana says that the ability to easily customize ABELDent’s charting templates was an additional deciding factor. "We created our own templates that guide us through an examination when the patient is in the chair," she explains. "This way we always keep the same investigative sequence so we can compare a new checkup with a previous one and accurately track our patients’ ongoing oral health."

On the administrative side, the dentist asserts that the financial and billing modules with report generation features are impressive. "It breaks down everything to the penny," she says. "If a patient asks our office manager where a five dollar difference is coming from, we can show them directly on the screen which family member paid for what service. It makes supporting families, from a financial perspective, a whole lot easier."

Overall, Dr. Vella Caruana likes ABELDent’s specific practice features, ease of use and competitive price. She says that the software helps in many aspects of her office management, especially by streamlining the workflow and offering the team members easy access to the system’s more than 2,000 patient records.

The Relationship

Since early 2010, Dr. Vella Caruana and her clinical/administrative team have developed a special relationship with ABEL because of the company’s ongoing customer support and innovation.

"We received great training from ABEL’s team when we switched, but we really learn by working with the system each day," she explains. "Follow-up has been tremendous. Anytime our office manager or treatment coordinator has any questions, ABEL has been able to answer very quickly. The company provided us with all the manuals but we know that a live, helpful voice is just a telephone call away if we ever get stuck and need extra help."

"I’m also impressed that ABEL continues to develop new tools and features that help me grow and manage the practice. It provides a wide variety of software-enhancing services to help us get the greatest benefit from our investment," she adds.

The Results

In short, Dr. Vella Caruana is delighted to have ABEL as a long-time partner in clinical and practice management. ABELDent continues to help her practice become more efficient, allowing her to spend less time on administration and more time with patients. She adds that the speed and ease of charting, in particular, frees up extra time to develop customized patient-treatment plans.

"When I used our older system, I was spending way too much time trying to chart. Now that I have ABELDent, it keeps me more organized and focused on treating our patients in the way we would wish to be treated if we hopped into the chair," she says. "Switching to ABELDent has had a very positive effect on the practice and the patients we serve. It’s making a huge difference."

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