What was once no more than a mass of water vapor floating in the sky is now something that plays a vital role in our technological landscape. There are dozens of cloud-based dental practice software systems that all promise to make practice life less hectic, keep everything organized, and give users more flexibility for when, where and how they make the program work for them. But if you’re not an expert on cloud-based software it can be tricky to figure out if it will be a good fit for your practice or not.
First off, do you have a good understanding of what the Cloud is in relation to dental software? Essentially, it’s a system of servers hosted on the internet that allow you to store, access and manipulate data (like your patient schedule) from any device—and not be limited to the capacity of your own office technical hardware. This can be helpful in avoiding painful IT issues and offloading some of the technical work to keep an office software system up and running. However, it also means that you’ll be storing confidential patient data in a shared space—something you can’t take lightly as a dental professional.
To assure you make an informed decision on cloud-based practice management software you need to ask any potential cloud software provider these questions:
- Is the data storage HIPAA compliant?
Because you work with legally confidential information, you must be certain that the software you’re considering will keep all the data you store secure. Leaked patient data could severely damage your practice reputation and lead to legal repercussions, so probing the company about their history of outages or data breaches—and just outright asking if their software uses a host that is compliant—will ensure you don’t choose a software that’s a security risk. Fortunately, as the demand for cloud based software in industries like dentistry increases they are becoming increasingly secure to keep customers compliant.
- What features does the software offer?
Before asking this question you should have a list of features and capabilities you’d like your ideal practice management software to have. This way you can ask whether or not these features are included with particular software to help eliminate ones you know won’t work for you.
Bonus tip: Also know what features you DON’T need. This will help you keep costs down and ensure you’ll have a system that’s as tailored to your practice as possible.
- What is it going to cost me?
Pricing for cloud-based software isn’t always spelled out in black and white. Some options require a monthly fee to continue use of the software. And some others come with certain start-up costs or increased costs to use additional features. Request that the pricing be laid out for you in detail so that you can review it and make sure it makes sense with your practice budget.
- What kind of training and support is provided?
When it comes to any new additions to your practice there’s always a learning curve, so it’s important to understand what kind of training and support you’ll receive from the company to make sure everyone can use it comfortably. Do they offer on-site training during set up? Is there online training available? Will you have a dedicated rep to answer a question and walk you through new user struggles? You never want to buy software just to be left to fend for yourself when it comes to actually using it. If you decide to make a purchase make sure your team will have the resources they need to use the software successfully.
- Will it be compatible with technology already in your office?
With more practices electing to use digital dental technology you might already have programs in place for x-rays, impressions and more. So knowing if the systems you already have in place will be able to sync with new software is key. Have a list of current programs and tech you’re currently using handy to discuss with software vendors. They’ll be able to help identify what will coordinate well and any areas that may cause issues. After all, you want all the technology in your office to work as seamlessly as possible.
The key to purchasing reliable software is to listen to your instincts and err on the side of caution. If the software representative doesn’t take the time to clearly answer all your questions or only answers questions with technical jargon that you don’t fully understand, beware of the product and support they are selling. Smart companies make it easy and clear and aren’t afraid of answering technical questions in plain English because they are selling you a solution to help your practice—not a solution that pays them a commission.
If you’re looking into cloud-based software asking these questions during your software search will help ensure that you get the right product for your practice when you need it.