Selecting a cloud service vendor for your practice

Dental professionals working in single practices or multi-specialty clinics need to adapt to an ever-changing set of rules and regulations. Many are turning to cloud-based software solutions to keep up. Although the general costs and benefits are widely known to most people, these professionals need to consider certain key aspects before committing to any particular web-based software vendor.

Below are some questions dental professionals need to ask before choosing a new cloud-based practice management system:

1. Security

Hosted systems are generally safer than traditional client-server models, but it depends on the individual vendor and the industry it serves. Since patient data in the US is covered under HIPAA regulations (PIPEDA in Canada), you should always find out if the system meets those standards to ensure security of medical information.

2. Network Up Time

No technology solution is perfect or fool-proof. Because any service can run into issues, the vendor should be easily available when such problems arise. Ask how long and how often outages occur and if they have backup plans for such emergencies.

3. Accessibility

Having data accessible from any device and location is one of the prime benefits of cloud-based systems. However, if the software can only be used =on specific equipment (only PC or Mac, recent mobile devices, etc), the value of this benefit is greatly diminished. Confirm with the vendor that the system will run on your existing hardware configuration. If the solution only requires a browser, it should be easily available though all the major players such as Explorer, Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

4. Customer Service

Any software glitches can easily disrupt the smooth functioning of your practice, frustrating employees and annoying customers. Tech support should be easily accessible at all times through multiple channels like email, telephone and live chat. Also ask the vendor what is the average response time in case of software issues.

5. Data Control

The medical industry, more than others, has sensitive patient health information. It is always important to know what the vendor will do with your data. Some cloud vendors offer ad-supported solutions which may not be HIPAA compliant. Will patient information be accessible to them in any manner? If you want to switch vendors later, will it be difficult to transfer your data?

So no matter what kind of software solution you are looking for, asking the right questions can make it easier to pick the vendor that best suits your requirements.