Investing in Dental Software: Make Sure Your Head Is in the Clouds

March 21, 2014
When faced with the decision to purchase dental software to manage the practice, the dentist now has the option of choosing cloud-based software ...

By Andy Jensen

When faced with the decision to purchase dental software to manage the practice, the dentist now has the option of choosing cloud-based software as compared to traditional client-server software. Generally speaking, software development is solely focused on the cloud. Microsoft, Adobe, Intuit, and every other software developer have placed the bulk of their resources in developing software for the cloud.

Why?

Because the cloud provides the end user and the software developer inherent advantages and cost savings. The cloud provides an important element of accessibility and flexibility that cannot be easily duplicated by traditional client-server software. For doctors, unfettered access to patient information makes it easy to mold technology around their preferred work style. Working away from the office at any given hour is a key desired-lifestyle attribute.

Many other advantages explain why the cloud is the current technology platform for software. With a practice on the cloud, the doctor can be liberated from troublesome software upgrades. Most doctors have experienced the anxiety that comes the moment a new CD arrives in the mail containing an upgrade to their management software. It usually represents lost production and additional IT costs.

Doctors on the cloud never install upgrades. Whenever they login to the system, the latest and greatest features and capabilities are always available to them. With data backup, an inherent part of the cloud, doctors have at their fingertips a ready-made business continuity plan at no additional cost.

Despite these obvious advantages, the number of doctors moving their practices to the cloud is relatively low. Today, more doctors are still purchasing outdated client-server software than cloud-based dental software. The disparity is due in part to market dynamics. The large, consolidated dental software vendors, with their expansive dealer networks, make it difficult for smaller software vendors to find a voice in the market.

As a result, unless doctors make an independent effort to learn more about the cloud, they often view the cloud with trepidation, which is unfounded given that today's society is already cloud-based. People are banking on the cloud, socializing on the cloud, shopping on the cloud, and dating on the cloud every day. Fear of working on the cloud is unwarranted given the level of successful adoption most North American doctors and staff experience on a daily basis already.

Moreover, it can be argued that the cloud is a safer spot for the doctor's patient data than on a server in the office under a desk or in a closet. If the practice is burglarized, the first things to be stolen are all the computers. This also represents an ugly HIPAA fiasco. In the cases of natural disasters or vandalism, these computers will be destroyed.

If the practice has an off-site backup, much time and effort is required to restore the data (if it can be restored). In addition, the backup may only contain the data up to the last backup. Hours of data could be forever lost. With the cloud, regardless of what happens to your physical practice, your data is always available, from any location at any time of day or night. The data is backed up in multiple locations up to the last second.

Switching to the cloud is easier than setting up with traditional client-server software, too. Software does not have to be installed. All of the time and resources required to set up a server and workstations are completely eliminated. Training is also cloud based. Rather than paying the travel costs for an on-site trainer (which can be disruptive to the practice) and trying to learn a new system in two or three days, the cloud allows the doctor and staff to learn in short training sessions that allow for better retention. The team can learn at the office or they can learn at home in their pajamas while sipping coffee.

Curve Dental is viewed as the most prevalent cloud-based vendor in dentistry today. Founded in 2005, the company has almost nine years of development experience specific to the cloud. Nearly 2,000 dental professionals use Curve's technology every day to manage the oral health of about 2,000,000 patients. You can learn more about Curve Dental on the cloud at www.curvedental.com or by calling (888) 910-4376.

To watch a video interview of DE Editor Dr. Joe Blaes with Curve Dental President and COO Ian Zipursky, go to http://bcove.me/cefdx8zv.

Andy Jensen is the chief marketing officer for Curve Dental, Inc., a developer of cloud-based dental software based in Orem, Utah. He has 20 years of experience in the dental software market. You can reach Andy at [email protected].

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