Cloud-based dental EHRs are quickly becoming the preferred option for practices. You can reduce your technological footprint and not have to worry about maintenance or upgrades. Your data lives in the cloud so you can access it from anywhere, even with a mobile phone or tablet. Your patient records and clinical data are backed up in real-time for your peace of mind.
However cloud-based EHRs are not created equal. Some are easier to use than others. Vendors promise to free you from the constraints imposed by on-premise systems. While that is often true, sometimes they just replace the old constraints with new limitations. So before you choose a cloud-based dental EHR for your clinic, evaluate them on three key issues.
How Much Downtime Should I Expect?
The advantage of the cloud is that you can access your data from anywhere. But you can’t do that if the vendor’s website or service is down for any reason. This is why service level agreements exist. An SLA specifies the minimum level of service that the provider guarantees to offer their users. The agreement also specifies the reimbursement and compensation clauses that users are entitled to in case downtime crosses the specified limit.
First of all, never trust a provider that claims 100% uptime. If they do, find out how they arrive at the figures and what the contract excludes. Ask for downtime and uptime figures for the last couple of years, so you can compare them with the figures in the SLA. Your vendor should be able to apply updates on the fly without requiring users to log out of the system. They should schedule maintenance so that it doesn’t interrupt your work hours. Keeping your data in the cloud is only useful if you can access it whenever you need.
What Happens to My Data If I Move?
If you’re not happy with your cloud, you should be able to take your data and leave. Find out how easy it would be to get your data back if you need it. Vendors will often claim that you can take your data with you but will not include all your data. Will you have missing records or fields? Do you have to pay extra to export them? It might take months to export and convert your data to a new system if they don’t use a standardized format.
Another important aspect is how much of your existing data can move to the cloud-based EHR you are evaluating. Data conversion is not quick or easy but your provider should have a process for converting data from different systems to their own. You shouldn’t have to pay for special software bridges just to move your data from one system to another.
How Does the EHR Handle Imaging?
Many cloud-based dental EHRs offer integration with various imaging systems and sensors. But not all of them work seamlessly. Find out if the EHR will work with whatever imaging solution your practice uses. Does the vendor offer any feature that automatically uploads your images to the cloud? The sooner you get your images in the cloud, the better it is for data backup.
Some services require you to manually manage the imaging files before they can be uploaded. You might have to rename files or save them in a specific directory for the service to find it. A cloud-based EHR should reduce your workload, not add to it.
Choosing the right technological solution for your practice management and clinical needs is very important. So evaluate all the cloud-based EHRs you are considering on these three key issues before making a decision that’s right for your practice.