Tracker was featured in The Financial Post!

Software With Teeth

Frank Dionisi got the idea at his annual check-up. What the profession needed most, his dentist pondered, was more medical practice software. Frank could only nod.


Special Reports Writer The Financial Post
{From The Financial Post - Saturday, April 26, 1997}

When Brantford, Ont., dentist Dr. Philip Hewson finds a cracked tooth or inflamed gum, he uses an intraoral camera to show the patient exactly what is causing the pain or discomfort.

Hewson explores the patient's mouth with a camera lens about the size of a fountain pen, connected to the camera. It's like using a tiny video camera. The results are displayed on a large monitor for both patient and dentist to see, and still photos can be printed if needed to support a dental insurance claim, for instance.

With another system, he can show a patient "before and after" images of what his or her teeth look like now and what they would look like after cosmetic work.

These and other new technologies are made faster to use by a dental practice management system called Tracker for Dentists. With the patient's computer records open, Hewson can carry out his intraoral camera examination or create images of new and improved smiles, and important data about the patient are transported to the software managing the technology. Tracker doesn't have to be shut down, which would require the patient's name and information to be entered into the system more than once.

This is a real time saver, says Hewson, who has been using Tracker for Dentists for two years. An enthusiast for leading-edge technology, Hewson says he tried three practice management software programs before Tracker.

The program manages a patient's personal, billing and clinical information, manages scheduling so it can be seen on a daily or weekly basis, and includes a system that automatically books patients for their next check-ups. Tracker can also produce business reports showing how a practice is operating. Because Tracker is designed for Microsoft Corp.'s Windows, it can be used on a wide range of computer hardware.

Hewson says Tracker is continually being upgraded to incorporate new ideas and allow it to work with emerging technologies. He has found very few problems with the program, even in the beta or early test versions. Customer service is quick and efficient; problems are sometimes corrected remotely using the modem, Hewson says.

Tracker for Dentists is produced by The Bridge Network Inc., a small Toronto software company started by Frank Dionisi, Issie Chaimovitch and Charles Rosen, all mathematics graduates from the University of Waterloo.

The idea for the software took root in the early 1990s when Dionisi was sitting in his dentist's chair. The dentist complained he was getting tired of hearing about overpriced practice management systems that all promised the same things.

At the time, says Bridge Network president Dionisi, there were a lot of expensive, powerful systems on the market and a number of low-end systems.

When Microsoft Windows emerged as a popular software, Dionisi and his partners believed they could fill a niche with a Windows-based practice management product for the Canadian market.

Dionisi and his partners, who were just a couple of years out of university, thought they would have a difficult time breaking into the dentistry market.

They started by writing a software package for denturists, who make dentures and who have similar but less rigorous software requirements. At the time, there were no software packages for denturists, while dentists had a number to choose from, including packages from some large, established companies.

Tracker for Denturists was introduced in 1993 and has been endorsed by the Denturists' Association of Ontario and Toronto's George Brown College, which has a dental technology department.

After production and marketing for Tracker for Denturists were established, Bridge Network added features for the dentistry market and came up with Tracker for Dentists, the first Canadian practice management software for dentists.

Additional features include a different fee guide, a reminder to staff to follow a difficult surgical procedure with a phone call to the patient and a system that automatically schedules a patient for the next appointment.

Bridge Network is entirely self-funded, Dionisi says. The start-up money for Tracker for Denturists came from consulting fees, and revenues from that first product were used to fund Tracker for Dentists.

Sales and revenue for 1996 increased about 60% from 1995.

Dionisi says Bridge Network is looking at a version of the product for orthodontists. The company's vision is to expand the Tracker model for other health professionals, such as optometrists and veterinarians, by changing some of the parameters. But for now, the small company is too busy in the dental field to look at those types of expansion.

Dionisi says the firm wants to maintain the same level of support and service, so it doesn't want to expand too quickly.

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