Clouds below the waterline

April 1, 2011
The price quoted for most tech implementations are just above the waterline. Beware. Cloud bed systems can include more costs you don't notice at first.

Adrian Huang, DMD

For more on this topic, go to and search using the following key words: cloud computing, cloud-based, Web-based software, Dr. Adrian Huang.

The price quoted for most tech implementations are just above the waterline. Beware. Cloud bed systems can include more costs you don't notice at first.

Whenever you buy a new piece of technology, whether it is for your home or office, there are often costs above and beyond what you paid for the device. For example, I bought an iPad when it came out a year ago. Admittedly, I am easily tempted by technology toys, and this was no different.

Don't get me wrong, I love the iPad and I use it all the time. However, after I bought it I realized I had to buy more apps, screen protector, and other accessories to go with it in order to get full use of it. Cell phones are also like that. You buy the phone and then the real cost kicks in when you decide on data plans, text messaging, applications for the phone, and minutes of talk time.

Dental software is often like iPads and cell phones in its price structure. There is a price quoted for the purchase of the software, but there are more costs that go with it that will add up and be ongoing. First is the cost of the software itself. Then there are the data conversion costs and training costs. There may be additional user licensing costs and multiple operatory or location costs.

There may be ongoing tech support costs. There may be costs for additional front office and back office modules. There are costs for data backup, IT, and servers.

There are usually additional fees for a dental procedure education module. These are not even all of the additional costs, but examples of what may be needed to get your software to perform everyday tasks in the dental practice.

Cloud-based dental software can eliminate a lot of these add-on charges you get with traditional dental software. These add-on fees can be reduced by the nature of how cloud-based systems work and the features already included in the software. Cloud-based systems are accessed and stored online, so there is no physical software to buy.

Naturally, even cloud software needs to be financially viable, so there are user fees that allow online software companies to build, support, and maintain the software. Traditional software also has these charges. It is important to look at what is included with cloud-based software in comparison to traditional legacy software versions and their add-ons.

Advantages of the Web

Being on the Web allows features to be stored centrally, and they are less expensive to distribute and maintain, thus featuring more for your money.

Some things that are included for free in Web-based software that may be charged as an add-on with traditional server-based software are:

• Remote backup of all your dental office information

• Free HIPAA compliance

• Remote access to all office schedules and accounts from anywhere

• Remote server

• Unlimited tech support

• Free updates that are more frequent

• Animated dental education software

• Multiple computer/operatory modules

• Ability to e-mail and text from the software to patients

• No hardware upgrades needed because even Macs are OK to use with most cloud-based systems

• IT costs, since techs can remotely repair or access the software as part of the monthly fee

These are many of the costs that are included in cloud-based software that you may be paying extra for right now with traditional software. Although cloud-based systems do not completely eliminate all costs, there are fewer surprises and add-ons to consider. Cloud completing software for the dental office is here now and will continue to be more cost effective and will improve with time. It is worth a look below the surface to see what you really get with your software.

Dr. Adrian Huang is a graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry in Lexington. He operates a paperless private practice in Provo, Utah, that emphasizes restorative dentistry. Reach him by e-mail at [email protected].

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