To App or Not To App?

No one would disagr ee that a dental practice website is a must-have tool. While a decade ago, you could have argued that you may not really need a web presence, if you’re not on the web today, it’s like your practice doesn’t exist.

Now, the medical profession may be asking a similar question about mobile apps. Should I or shouldn’t I? The web is a powerful tool to attract new patients, convey important information, educate patients, and increase office efficiency. But today, the smartphone is where consumers spend their time. Mobile apps usually offer a
simpler interface than smartphone-based web browsers, and they’re more readily accessible—at everyone’s fingertips while on the go.

AACD Accredited member, Dr. Fred Peck of Cincinnati, Ohio, said his app has only been out for a few weeks, and while he has yet to notify his patients of its availability, his staff is excited to be on the cutting edge of technology. “I used a service from,” Peck says, “and since it was built on an existing template, the investment was only $1,000, plus $38 a month.” Peck provided the content (words,
images, video) and the vendor did the rest, including getting it approved for the Apple App Store. Peck also plans to offer his app for the Android operating system.

According to AdMob, the iPhone operating system makes up 50 percent of the worldwide smartphone market,
with Android the next highest OS at 24 percent. According to the website, the beauty is all smartphone platforms will pull from the same CMS data as the iPhone app, so there is no extra effort required by the customer. You can easily control all content and information through a real-time web interface.

“The medical community appears to be embracing mobile technology at a faster rate than the general population,” says Rohit Krishna, MD, an associate professor of ophthalmology and director of glaucoma at the University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Medicine. Dr. Krishna holds a financial interest in Cloud Nine Development, the company responsible for This boom can be attributed to the proliferation of medical software applications, known as apps, and the inherently portable nature of the content they hold. “Keeping up with medical knowledge and its growing sources can be daunting, but an app that serves as a portal for all of this information assembles the data in a cohesive manner,” he said.

James Goolnik, BDS, MSc, immediate past president of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry—an AACD Affiliate—also has an app for his London-based Bow Lane Dental. “Patients can book appointments, learn about the services offered at Bow Lane, set up reminders, and more,” says Goolnik. The first version of the Bow Lane app was just for the iPhone, but now Goolnik has a version for the iPad (larger screen and more functionality), and they’re working on a Blackberry version.

“It’s brilliant for new clients, as they can be walked through to our office, complete an online medical history questionnaire, and see videos of all the team—before they even arrive,” says Goolnik.

Is an app right for your practice? Only you can answer that one, but some might say it’s just a matter of time.