Is cloud-based dental software right for you?

While you store music and photos in the cloud, and do banking in the cloud, are you ready to adopt web-based dental office software? A restorative dentist from Utah outlines the pros and cons of selecting a web-based system for your practice (citation below).

The number one benefit of web-based software is that hauling backups off-site and fearing a loss of data due to crashed computers becomes a thing of the past. Cloud-based software with server redundancy simplifies system maintenance for dentists by eliminating dependence on office staff for a backup protocol. In addition, users are all running the latest software version, without the need for devoting time to updates.

In addition to the time saved in running back ups and updating software, setting up a web-based system is cheaper because it requires less memory for unlimited storage capacity. Finally, users have remote access to records from satellite locations, home, or while traveling. When the author’s practice was still under construction, he was able to start booking appointments and setting up insurance fee schedules using his cloud based system.

On the downside, web-based systems require a constant high speed internet connection that is still not possible in many parts of the country.  While they will work with lower speed connections, this is not ideal and leads to frustration. Cloud-based software varies in available features, and so needs to be vetted and selected carefully. For instance, until the dentist implemented cloud based imaging software, patients’ before and after photos were stored on the office PC. And lastly, dentists worry about security and privacy breaches with web-based data. In reality most web-based companies are able to provide greater security than most dental offices, but it is the loss of direct control over those security measures that concerns most practitioners.

One cautionary note is to always ask the software provider about HIPAA compliance. Are communications secure? Are any backups stored offsite in compliance with HIPAA regulations?

Lessons Learned:

  • Web-based dental office systems can save money due to the need for less memory and time devoted to backups and updates.
  • A constant high speed internet connection is necessary for a successful web-based system experience.
  • Dentists adopting web-based office systems exchange perceived direct control over their own record security and privacy for tighter security measures that software companies can provide.
  • Ensure that selected software is HIPAA-compliant.

Huang, Adrian (2011). The benefits and pitfalls of web-based software programs. Dental Economics 101(1)

Tynan, Dan (2011, August 8). Is dentistry ready for ‘the cloud’?