Ted Takahashi talks about how transitioning your practice management software from a server to the cloud can save you time and money.
Q: Is dentistry ready for cloud computing?
A: It should be! More than half of Americans are under the age of 40, with 95% having smart- phone ownership. Millennials and Gen Z have come to expect advanced communications through online appointment reminders, online scheduling, and texting directly to the practice in real time. Dental practices are already embracing wearable devices, electronic health records, e-claims, practice health analytics, and social media—most of which are cloud-based. Traditional office computer networks are server-based, ie, the records and transactions are residing in a “special” computer inside the office, which is usually maintained and monitored by IT companies at a monthly cost. With a local server, the need for monthly IT support and managed backups can easily cost $500 per month or more. Simple math shows that these costs soar to $30,000 over just 5 years.
With the current news of hackers and ransomware, as well as catastrophic events such as fires and floods, these servers are put at risk. Remote cloud computing solutions replace the expensive server and offer safe data storage and backup, reducing much of this worry. Disconnecting the server reduces overhead costs, saving valuable time, and allows practices to thrive. But in order to prepare the office for this transition, dental practices will need to embrace a specific plan of implementation.
Q: How do you transition from server to cloud?
A: Understanding the big picture defines the vision for the practice. The detailed steps to achieve the goal is the plan! Don’t expect the cloud software sales reps to do this for you. They sell the product and will install it, but not all of them will hold your hand when preparing for the installation. Planning is like the foundation of a building: Even the slightest flaw leads to bigger problems down the line. Because each dental practice is unique, wrapping a good plan around practice goals (prior to initiating product demonstrations) is the best strategy.
If you need help, now is the time!
The equipment-first mentality started with the design of dental treatment rooms. Many rooms were planned around the equipment, not the processes or workflow, leading to inefficient use of square footage. This can also apply to standardized technology systems, their setup, and how they integrate. In addition, established practices may have older computers and network infrastructures that may or may not work with new software, which is something that must be identified before any conversion.
Q: How will this benefit my practice?
A: The cloud disconnects the local server and frees dentists from the financial burden that comes with IT services. Your plan also should allow the dental practice to simplify, automate, and transform old paper-based systems to a datacentric workflow. As a result, less time will be spent worrying about maintenance, allowing more time for analyzing data and identifying issues, which will lead to better practice health.
Q: How do I transition my software to the cloud?