Dental Mac may be in permanent maintenance mode, but FileMaker Pro may come to save the day.
Tony Yazbeck of
ABT Data Consulting
told MacCentral that the company does FileMaker Pro Development and “are very open to developing dentist software to those that are interested.”
“We are totally Mac based, and have been very successful with that setup,” he said.
ABT currently has two teams of developers on the FileMaker Pro side of things. One team works directly with clients to develop customized database/Web solutions. The other team works with other FileMaker Pro developers who occasionally need to outsource some of their projects in order to meet deadlines, improve on their existing solutions, etc. Yazbeck said the company is seeing an increased amount of FileMaker developer support in that sense and that the results so far have been positive. Go to the ABT Web site for details and contact info.
Meanwhile, David Ticzon, DDS, told MacCentral that he has turned to FileMaker Pro for his dental software solution.
“I set out to build my own dental software in FileMaker Pro,” he said. “For two months, all my spare time was spent in learning and building a dental solution in FileMaker Pro. My wife, who is also a dentist and my partner, thought I was out of my mind. My sister in-law was also using the same dental software I had previously used that was going to expire in the year 2000. Therefore, it was not only my office that was depending on me to build a solution.”
By January 1999, Ticzon had a working solution running on his office network (AppleTalk) with “just the click of a mouse.” He said he even gave his brother in-law a copy to test on his PC,” and all the files worked beautifully.”
“All my files looked exactly the same,” Ticzon added. “It didn’t matter on what platform they were running on. (My original testing was done on Virtual PC for the PC platform). Since I am the author of my own dental solution, I have enjoyed the ability to add and modify the different windows and fields. I was able to add and modify features that I had admired that were on other dental software. The ability of building a e-mail solution into my dental solution is a nice feature (a FileMaker 4 and 5 feature).”
Ticzon said he had never previously thought about selling his dental solution to anyone, since dental solution is never finished and is always evolving. However, Ticzon is considering giving it away to the dental community as freeware. If you’re interested in seeing this happen, post a line and your e-mail in the Readers Forum below this story and, hopefully, Ticzon will get in touch with you.
MacCentral has also learned of at least one other dentist who’s working on a FileMaker Pro based dental solution for the Mac. We’ll keep you posted.
Meanwhile, Rob Kolter, an Apple authorized reseller and consultant, has offered some background and perspective regarding dental software for the Mac. He first started his Mac consulting business when his dentist asked him about computer systems. Kolter did some research and ended up talking with HealthCare Communications (HCC).
At the time, HCC was the developer of MediMac, Dental Mac, and ChiroMac (for chiropractic practices). All three programs were basically the same software adapted to the specific type of practice they were serving. Kolter said they used a great number of non-standard programming and networking practices to accomplish their tasks; a fact which made upgrading and modernizing the software difficult and, at times, nearly impossible. HCC was in the process of moving these systems to SQL when he became involved with them.
“They would require an NT server for the Mac clients — a fact that angered much of their customer base,” Kolter told MacCentral. “They also had a two-year string of broken promises, ship dates, and price increases for the new product and offered only rudimentary data conversion (remember that the old products used non-standard techniques). I had one sale of the new system sold and the hardware delivered and in place when HCC announced that they had sold the medical software system to another company who planned to discontinue MediMac and transition HCC’s customers to their Windows-based system.”
HCC also sold Dental Mac to Unident, which was made up of several former HCC employees. Kolter said the company promised upgrades and modernization, but found that there was no cost effective way to modernize the non-standard programming of Dental Mac and no way to create an effective transition to a new product.
At this point the consultant cut the medical/dental clients from his business and focused on clients who use Macintosh in the core markets of content creation and publishing. There was no effective way to support these businesses with a software package that was “iffy at best,” he said.
“From the practitioners’ perspective, HCC and Unident made a fair chunk of money from support fees that promised a lot but delivered little,” Kolter added. “The
other Macintosh products
— some of them quite well received — suffer from the perception that there are no quality products available for Macintosh and a general lack of marketing.”