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Orthodontists throughout the country have been hearing about cloud-based practice management software for a long time, and many have switched over from conventional systems. But for those now pondering the switch, D. Douglas Depew, DMD, MS, has a concise “cloud” definition to clear up any confusion.
“The cloud is internet-based software that is available from your browser and does not require that you download any software to your computer,” explains Depew, a private practice orthodontist with three locations in Atlanta.
Allison Parks Hale, chief operations officer at Parks Orthodontics, York Town, Va., takes a slightly different angle on the cloud definition, emphasizing that all of the practice’s data, and the software itself, is held elsewhere by a third party. “When I am accessing my data, it’s just like typing something into Google,” she says. “It’s like signing into Amazon to make a purchase. The framework of the software and the data is all housed ‘in the cloud,’ which is really just large data centers that are somewhere else in the country. Your data is not in-house, but you can access it and the software via the web.”
As an early adopter of technology, Hale pondered cloud-based technology and took a close look at the idea from its earliest days. Even with the high-tech mindset, she worried that a cloud-based system might not be as robust as some of the out-of-the-box systems.
The cloud is internet-based software that is available from your browser and does not require that you download any software to your computer.
“I hear a lot of doctors saying they’re worried that Cloud 9 or similar products may not have all the capabilities that they are hoping for,” she says. “However, this cloud-based software—specifically Cloud 9 which I use—can take complicated actions that you would see in other systems and simplify them. That means there really isn’t a rigorous training process to get going.”
The result is that anyone can sit down in front of the Cloud 9 work station and quickly figure out how to navigate around the software. “And I just find that it’s much more intuitive,” Hale adds. “So while it may seem that it’s not as robust functionality-wise, it really is. It’s just in a more elegant and simple form.”
Why would orthodontists resist such a transition? A familiar reason applies to clinicians of all ages. “People are resistant to change,” muses Depew, who also owns Trapezio, a company that does online education for orthodontic staff members. “Changing software is a pretty big undertaking because you can’t go back, at least you can’t go back with ease.”
Depew concedes that conversions can be worrisome, with many orthodontists concerned that some of the data might become lost, corrupted, or degraded. “Early on that may have been the case,” he says, “but really now it’s not an issue.”
In pondering the whys and why nots of cloud conversion, Depew points out that cybersecurity may be another concern, but ultimately one that is overstated in many situations. “Having your data cloud-based takes some of that [cybersecurity] concern away, because your data is not stored in your office,” he says. “Cloud 9 scrubs for viruses and they have firewalls. And in our offices, we don’t have to back up anymore. It’s done for us. They have built-in redundancies, duplicate servers, and I feel we are much better protected when we have our data stored somewhere else, rather than in our office.”
If orthodontists are planning on operating multiple locations, the cloud offers maximum convenience. “You can run three, 10, 12, 20 locations all from the same piece of software, and they all talk to each other and interact,” Hale enthuses. “On the other end of the spectrum, startup docs coming out of residency might find non-cloud based products to be more financially draining. The financial barrier of getting on the cloud is low. Training time is low, at least that is my experience with Cloud 9—mainly because the product is super intuitive.”
Originally posted in Orthodontic Products online.