The rapid rise of cloud computing has spawned an IT renaissance for dental practitioners. Imagine a future free of the aggravation of constant upgrades and growing IT expenditures. Imagine a world where all your data is both secure, and fully HIPAA compliant, yet available to you 24/7. This is the future that cloud computing can bring to life for your practice.
At its heart, cloud computing is simply the practice of storing and accessing your data, and your programs, through the internet. Instead of your data and software being stored locally on your computer, or on a network server in your practice, everything is instead securely stored in a server farm or data storage array at a cloud solution or cloud storage vendor’s site. For instance, if you have ever used Google Docs to write a document, or Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive to store a file, then you have used cloud computing.
Here are a few reasons why the future of the dental industry lies in migration to the cloud:
Cost: Say goodbye to a large portion of your IT capital outlay and ongoing maintenance or upgrade expenses. Everything you need from file storage to patient billing can be hosted by a cloud provider. This means you no longer need to worry about hosting your own servers, or repairing, replacing or upgrading servers, or buying expensive server software. Depending on which software you decide to use to migrate to the cloud -- for instance, replacing in-house billing systems with cloud-based billing -- you can also see significant savings on software expenses. In addition, the fees you are now paying for IT support should decrease dramatically due to the reduction in hardware and software that requires on-site support.
Security: HIPAA compliance can be a major headache for any practice. Implementing and providing strict, auditable access to your patients’ data is a vital part of any office’s IT program. Cloud computing and storage allows you to shift this burden to the cloud vendor. Vendors who work with medical and dental practices will be well versed in HIPAA compliance and will have safeguards and security protocols in place to ensure your patient data is safe from prying eyes and is fully HIPAA compliant.
Backups and disaster recovery: Do you have a full backup system in place in your practice, including off-site backup storage? If your critical servers or desktop computers were to suffer a catastrophic failure today, would you be able to recover that data? Could a failure in any of these systems cause losses --- in productivity, in income, or in patient confidence in your office?
If the answer to any of these question is yes, then you can benefit from migrating to the cloud. Cloud computing also means that multiple backup copies of your data are being held safely in off-site storage and can easily be restored and accessed if needed. Odds are that if your cloud vendor suffers a data loss, you will never know about it, because it will be rectified before you notice. And if you accidentally delete a critical file or document, your cloud vendor can quickly retrieve a backup copy for you.
Designed for growth: Whether your practice has one office or three, cloud computing can give you access to the same information in each practice location. This means fewer headaches for you if a patient has to move from one office to another, or if one office is temporarily closed. If every patient file is in the cloud, then every office in your practice can have access to all of your patient information.
This also extends to scheduling and billing. If you migrate these two critical functions to the cloud, any office will have access to them. Seemingly small changes like these can be game-changers that not only make your practice more efficient -- so you can spend more time serving patients, and less time billing and scheduling across multiple offices -- and increase patient satisfaction.
To be successful, your practice needs to be ready to embrace the future, and the future clearly lies in the cloud.