The answer to the simple question “how much does does dental imaging software cost?” is not so simple. Ironically, when it comes to buying a system to handle X-rays, pricing transparency can be very hard to come by.
In the 25 years that we at Apteryx have been designing and selling dental imaging software there have never been more options and factors to consider. Some of the factors affecting cost are technology driven, such as going with a “closed” vs. “open” architecture platform. Or selecting an on-premise client server approach vs. cloud-base systems. Others have been caused by commercial “innovation” creating alternatives to outright purchase of hardware and software such as monthly subscriptions and, most recently, lease-to-own programs. And, some complexity is admittedly self-inflicted by manufacturers that don’t educate buyers on hidden or recurring costs.
While it will be difficult to cover every scenario, from every potential supplier that you might encounter, I will attempt to provide a framework explaining what drives imaging software costs up or down. I can and will provide information on Apteryx’s basic pricing as well as explaining factors that may cause your total costs to vary.
What is Dental Imaging Software?
Before diving into cost, let’s nail down the role that imaging software plays in your practice’s digital imaging workflow. Dental imaging software allows the capture or acquisition of raw image data from hardware devices such as 2D X-ray units, digital sensors, 3D cone beam scanners, and both intraoral and extraoral cameras. Post-acquisition it allows the dental team to easily store, retrieve, view, and enhance images to improve evaluation and diagnosis. Advanced imaging software platforms also facilitate administrative tasks associated with images like duplication, referral letters, treatment plan documentation, and image attachments for insurance reimbursements. Web based solutions allow easy collaboration with specialists, which is becoming increasingly important in multi-location group practices and DSO settings. Some web offerings even allow easy sharing of 3D cone beam images, which have until now been difficult to manage due to large file sizes.
What About Software That’s Bundled with Imaging Hardware Purchases?
The actual cost of image acquisition hardware is beyond the scope of this article. There are many great resources available to help you identify price and compare everything from sensors, to handheld X-ray units, to the best CBCT machines. What you need, what brands you select, and whether you purchase new, used, or lease will all affect your hardware bill.
Your hardware purchase decisions can also impact your imaging software costs both favorably and unfavorably. Some hardware suppliers will bundle “free” imaging software with your initial hardware purchase. If you’re equipping a new office or buying your very first piece of image acquisition hardware the bundled imaging software that comes included may be an option.
A “free” initial license does not necessarily mean “without cost”. There may be other very tangible costs in addition to the original site license including:
- Installation and setup
- Data conversion
- Practice management bridging
- Upgrade fees
- Add-on modules for other hardware
There may also be less obvious but even more impactful costs associated with bundled hardware/ software purchases including:
- Higher Hardware Pricing – the supplier is either paying for internal development or sourcing the imaging software so you’re probably paying for it somehow.
- Limited Capabilities – if bundled software doesn’t have the latest features, one cost may be the inability to maximize your hardware investment. Advanced capabilities like 3D file management and AI enabled functionality are already here or coming to dentistry very soon.
A “closed” architecture platform can be thought of as a special bundled software situation, where hardware and software bundling is technologically enforced. Very basically speaking, “closed” imaging platforms are where hardware and software from within a given brand work with each other but are incompatible with offerings from other suppliers by design. Without getting into the technical merits of “open” vs. “closed” design philosophies, closed platforms create barriers to switching brands and limit flexibility in future hardware and software purchases. While it won’t show up as a line item on a bill with an initial hardware purchase, that “free” bundled imaging software site license in a closed system can increase overall practice imaging technology costs over time.
How Much Does Imaging Software Cost for My Practice?
Not all imaging suppliers have published pricing, so the following are ranges of what we’ve seen across the dental industry for outright purchase of an on-premise solution (meaning hosted on a local server versus in the cloud):
Site/User License Fees
- Primary imaging software licenses – Bundled (“free”) to $4,000
- Single location, 2 operatories, 2 users
Initial Set-Up Expenses
- Data Conversion*
- Simple format change – $995
- Large data set or complex field mapping to practice management system -$1,295
*not all suppliers can provide data conversion. If that’s a need, verify what can be provided up front.
- TWAIN Driver – Incl. with purchase up to $1,500
- Enables image capture from your hardware to the image management software
- Data Bridge – Incl. with purchase up to $2,000
- Enables information exchange between practice management system and imaging application
Training and Ongoing Support
You and your staff will need some initial training and then on-going support. Most practices can be successful with about 4 hours of remote training. Typical fees are as follows:
- On-site – $2,500/day
- Remote – $100/hr.
- Support – $400-$2,000 annually
- Updates/Upgrades – Typically included $995-$1,795
- Minor updates
- Major version upgrades
Servers and Associated IT Costs
You’ll need a file server to store those images and some IT support to keep it all running smoothly. Typical costs are:
- Server (hardware) – $5,000-$6,000
- IT and Server Maintenance – $3,600/ year (~$300/mo.)
- Off-Site Backup and Data Security – $2,400/ year (~$200/mo.)
How Much Does Apteryx Imaging Software Cost?
Apteryx offers an on-premise solution which is called XrayVision, as well as our cloud-based solutions XVWeb and XVWeb 3D. See the blog post “Cloud-Based Versus On-Premise Solutions” for a detailed comparison of the two platforms. Since cloud-based solutions are monthly subscriptions and may eliminate local servers for image storage and related IT costs, XVWeb and XVWeb 3D will be discussed separately below.
XrayVision is the “like” comparison to the expected cost ranges for the dental industry discussed above. It should be noted that XrayVision is an “open” platform meaning it is designed to be compatible with imaging hardware regardless of the manufacturer. Here are the key price points for XrayVision as of the writing of this blog post:
- Primary Site License – $1,795
- User License (each add’l user – typical minimum 2) – $185
- Additional Location License – $945
- Data Conversion
- Simple format change – $995
- Large data set/complex mapping – $1,295
- Practice Management Bridge – Incl.
- TWAIN Driver – Incl.
- On-site – $2,500/day
- Remote – $100/hr
- Support – $400/yr
- Minor updates – Incl.
- Major version upgrades – $995-$1,795
Ancillary (IT Costs) are the same for XrayVision sites as competitive non-cloud-based systems.
Cloud Based Dental Software Cost
Cloud based imaging software is still a relative newcomer for privately owned single location and small group practices. Cloud-based imaging solutions are becoming increasingly popular for larger group practice’s and DSO’s. However, since the majority of practices are still on-premise (e.g. requiring an in-office server) the focus of this article has thus far been on on-premise solutions. Industry cost comparisons with Apteryx’s cloud-based offerings are relatively meaningless, as this model is so new to dentistry and the cost drivers are very different (i.e. monthly subscriptions, no dedicated image file server, minimal ancillary IT support).
It should be noted that cloud-based practice management systems are also beginning to gain traction in dentistry and may offer basic image storage and viewing functionality. However, they are generally not full imaging solutions and don’t typically offer functionality such as advanced filtering and 3D file management.
XVWeb and XVWeb 3D pricing is provided for reference only and is also available on the Apteryx website. Like XrayVision, XVWeb and XVWeb 3D are “open” architecture platforms. As of the writing of this article XVWeb is offered in three levels; Starter, Standard, and Pro at $129/mo., $159/mo., and $229/mo respectively. There is an initial server set up fee equal to 1 month at the appropriate level and a one-time location set up fee of $99. All levels offer free updates, technical support, and upgrades. The levels differ in the number of capture stations and file storage.
XVWeb 3D allows for storage, access, image enhancement, and manipulation of 3D CBCT images from any web compatible device. Ideal clinical applications include nerve canal tracing and implant treatment planning. Pricing is as follows:
- XVWeb Pro 3D Unlimited Site License – $299/mo.
- Server Set-up – $299
- Location Setup and Training – $99
- Database Conversion with Data Mapping – $1,295 (*pricing may vary for very large datasets)