Software for Dentists by Dentists: The Story of Axex Dental
Axex Dental, the complete software designed to manage an entire dental practice, is the product of husband-wife duo, Gabriel Ruiz and Kim Riggs Ruiz.
Kimberly Riggs Ruiz, DDS graduated Loma Linda University and established her own practice in the town she’d grown up in. Gabriel, as the doctors “wife”, per se, had always been involved creating, growing and managing the dental practice.
But while managing the family practice, Gabriel expressed his struggle daily with how inefficient and technologically behind most dental practice management software is. Their solution? Develop brand new software that will serve as a full circle, easy-to-use program to manage their dental practice.
Kimberly and Gabriel founded Unident Software Company in 2011. Their software, Axex Dental v1.0, was released in 2013. The dental hardware/software system serves as a universal solution to a completely paperless dental office.
As a web-based company, Axex Dental is setting out to change the way people use software to manage their practice. Right now, customers can simply go to axexdental.com and schedule a live demo as well as review a complete feature list included in this new software.
The Dental Geek had the opportunity to chat with Co-founders Gabriel Ruiz and Kim Riggs Ruiz as well as CEO, Amy Poland Tidwell about the development of Axex Dental.
1. The Dental Geek: Not many dentists make the transition into the business of creating and selling products. What had inspired you to enter the business side of the dental world?
Gabriel & Kimberly Ruiz: Our practice has always functioned as a business. It has grown over the years by applying basic business principles. We could not find a product that would fit our needs in the dental world so it felt natural to apply the same principles to creating a great software service. When you view your product as a service, it is not such a leap to go from a dental practice to a software company. Whether it is patients or software users we want our customers to experience a service that is friendly, painless and affordable.
2. The Dental Geek: What does the Axex software do and what are some of the biggest challenges you faced in development?
Gabriel & Kimberly Ruiz: Axex was designed to manage an entire dental practice simply, reliably and on whichever OS or computer system a doctor chooses to use. Axex manages appointments, patient charts, accounts, e-claims, x-rays and reports. Using a tablet, such as an iPad, a practice can experience a completely paperless office. Patients can fill out their paperwork directly on a tablet and doctors have quick access to patient data from x-rays to medical history at their fingertips and chairside. Axex is so reliable because it is served from a proprietary small server included in the purchase. There is no software to install or maintain – set it and forget it. The dental office data is saved to two separate server drives for constant redundant back up. Because it runs on any operating system, doctors and office administrators can choose computer platforms that require less maintenance such as Mac and Linux computers and Apple and Android tablets.
When it comes to the logistics of developing the software, one of the biggest challenges was finding qualified people to write the code. We started by outsourcing to India but language and time difference challenges became too much. Bringing the development back to our home town was the best decision we made. Still, we had to work with several programmers before we were able to narrow it down to ones who knew what they were doing and to make our vision a reality. As for design challenges, K.I.S.S. was always a priority. Resisting the temptation to create additional features was a challenge.
3. The Dental Geek: Amy, Gabriel and Kim have both expressed that you contributed a lot to the success of your dental practice as well as your software company. Did you have an easy transition as a manager of a dental practice to a manager of a software company?
Amy Poland Tidwell: I think in any transition there are challenges. The one thing that took me a while to get used to was letting go of my daily dental office routine, what I was familiar with doing and allowing someone else to step in. Since I joined the practice from the beginning, I treated it like it was my own business. I loved it and I enjoyed working with my dentists and co-workers. I helped develop that practice and knew everything from the front of the building to the back. It was my baby, as the saying goes. I think it is natural for humans to resist change. As for ease in the shift…I love to learn new things so that part of the transition was easy. I have definitely benefited from the software company with learning new technology. I am surrounded by people who live and breathe the latest and greatest in the tech world. It is very exciting to be a part of something that will change a provider’s practice once they give us a try. I know that the word “revolutionary” is quite overused; however, it seems appropriate for me to say it. Axex Dental truly is revolutionary and is unlike any other DPMS on the market.
4. The Dental Geek: What do you feel is the most rewarding thing about creating a new tool for dental professionals?
Gabriel & Kimberly Ruiz: As dental professionals ourselves, anything that can make operating your business easier makes it rewarding. When you come out of dental school you are not fully prepared, unless you have gotten a business degree, for all that is involved in running your own practice. The last thing you need is some graceless and blundering practice software to use daily.
5. The Dental Geek: Do you believe that Axex Dental software has increased your own practice’s success? How so?
Gabriel & Kimberly Ruiz: Yes, definitely! We wanted software that would be efficient, truly paperless, and not cost an arm and a leg! For any business to be profitable it must pay out less than it takes in. If I can give my team software that is faster and easier to learn than using paper or other software, then I’m saving time and therefore money. I tell them I’m always ready to do things more efficiently! If something is easier, better and cheaper then we all win! Also with the increased efficiency, I have been able to employ fewer people to do the same amount of work. I was able to reduce my payroll by nearly $30,000 a year. Being paperless also saves me $3,000 a year in paper, wear and tear on the printers, toner, ink, etc.
6. The Dental Geek: Do you plan on exhibiting the Axex Dental software at any upcoming dental conventions or trade shows?
Amy Poland Tidwell: Historically, we have attended the AADOM (American Association of Dental Office Managers) convention and a few other sizable conventions such as Chicago Midwinter and The Hinman. This year we plan on attending as many dental school venues as possible. Our main focus is newly emerging dental students so we will consider any conventions that target that group.
7. The Dental Geek: Do you have any other dental related software in development for the future?
Gabriel & Kimberly Ruiz: Our vision is to expand Axex to have more functions and features that integrate with it. In the very near future, we will be adding the ability to send e-prescriptions, check insurance eligibility/benefits, provide online patient portals and various customizable requests by dentists for specific items.
We also created our software with future technology in mind. We are currently exploring wearable computer peripherals such as Google Glass to make patient care even easier chairside. Imagine not having to look away from a patient to see the “to be completed” items, or fill out a perio chart without ever taking your eyes away from the probe. Using your fingers to interact with the software is as basic as it gets, but a finger is not always the right tool. We are exploring ways of making tools that interact directly with the software, such as a probe that lets you enter pocket depths and gum recession without ever moving your fingers away.
8. The Dental Geek: Do you have any advice for dentists or office managers who believe they have a good idea but are fearful about starting a new business?
Gabriel & Kimberly Ruiz: Do your research! Learn as much as you can about the subject. Learn about the competition. You cannot know too much about it! People will ask all kinds of questions and you need to be able to answer as much as possible or find the answer for next time. Learn about simple startup concepts such as minimum viable product and agile development. We recommend reading “The Personal MBA” by Josh Kaufman and “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries. Double the amount of money and time you estimate you will need for development. Nothing ever comes in under time or under budget! Finally, don’t be afraid to take a calculated risk. If you don’t take that step out in faith you will never know what you missed.
9. The Dental Geek: How can we learn more about Axex Dental Software?
Gabriel & Kimberly Ruiz: It’s very easy to find us and learn more on our website at axexdental.com. There is a great walk-through video on the site as well as a place on each page to book a demo if someone would like to see a more in-depth view. We feel like people want to shop from home more these days so we have focused our attention on providing a highly informative website that allows them to make a decision on their own time without sales pressure.
10. The Dental Geek: Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to share with the Dental Geek audience?
Gabriel & Kimberly Ruiz: It’s important to us that dental professionals know that we have used other products on the market that are “designed” for practice management. We are extremely familiar with the functionality, awkwardness and limitations of those DPMS suites. We know that it should not be difficult to run your dental practice on a daily basis. Making our lives more simple with Axex has allowed the doctors in our own practice to be able to enjoy life more thoroughly. They complete their tasks quicker and are able to go home to experience life. There are no late nights at the office trying to finish paperwork.