When choosing a patient education program, dentists must consider the system’s overall ease of use. After all, if patient education isn’t simple to implement and use on a daily basis, it’s hard to ask practice staff to take time out of their day to work with it.
In general, when it comes to traditional client server software for the practice and the IT issues that go along with it, many dentists have a love/hate relationship with their technology. The fact that you have to consistently upgrade both hardware and software is always frustrating. With some providers, you can spend hours on hold with tech support just trying to get a small problem solved. These headaches help explain why many dentists fall behind on upgrading their software.
In the case of patient education, this can be a major drawback, as it prevents the office from being able to present information and gain patient acceptance on the most up-to-date treatments. While there are patient education providers that do provide great service and help avoid some of these issues, it’s hard to bypass the cycle of regular software upgrading.
The good news is that now alternatives exist that can actually be less expensive and easier to use. Cloud-based patient education systems are gaining momentum in many dental offices, including my own. Despite this, however, many of my colleagues are hesitant to embrace cloud-based systems due to misunderstandings and/or lack of knowledge regarding what these technologies are capable of.
You’re probably already on the cloud
The fact is, many of us are already using cloud-based systems in our personal lives — and maybe even in our practices — without realizing it or recognizing it as such. Many popular systems that we interact with every day are now web-based — for example, email, file sharing, and even online banking. So, perhaps unintentionally, many of us have migrated to the cloud in small, incremental ways, and we use it all the time.
For many dentists, though, the thought of using the cloud in the practice raises concerns. We want to be able to “see” the hard drive in our offices. Dentists fear moving to the cloud because they feel they may lose control, even though the nature of digital data is inherently different from physical data. In most cases, these fears are unfounded, and can easily be put to rest.
More access, easier to use
CAESY Cloud from Patterson Dental provides a good example of how smoothly cloud-based systems — such as patient education — can work. This is an online version of the popular CAESY patient education software. With this system, you can access patient education presentations and stream them with many different devices — computers, smartphones, iPads and iPods — allowing multiple members of your practice to access the videos. This allows dental professionals to educate more than one patient at the same time.
You can also link the presentations to your website so patients can access them from their home, which makes it easier to describe what transpired in the dental office to another person. In many cases, a spouse may control financial aspects of the patient’s treatment. The better patients and their families understand the problem, the more likely they will be to follow through on treatment; therefore, giving patients simple access to presentations in the cloud for at-home viewing can have a large payoff.
An additional advantage of cloud-based technology is that practices no longer have to update server- or CD-based systems. For example, with patient education presentations stored online, they are automatically updated from the manufacturer as new content becomes available. Additionally, most cloud-based software is paid for with a low monthly fee and only a small start-up cost, making it simple to predict and budget for, unlike physical software that is updated sporadically and tends to have much greater up-front costs.
With cloud-based software, dentists can expect to pay less for ongoing maintenance and updates, as well as less in IT costs. This is a welcome change for many of us who are accustomed to paying IT professionals by the hour to set up hardware and software and periodically update it.
Stop waiting and start taking advantage
More and more technologies and software systems are moving to the cloud as computing becomes ever more sophisticated and mobile. I don’t think there is any reason that dentists should not experience the benefits of cloud-based patient education and the convenience and value it offers to the patient. With low, predictable costs, simple setup, no maintenance and great ease of use, cloud-based systems such as CAESY Cloud provide an outstanding service for dentists.
Martin Jablow, DMD, is a clinician, speaker, and author. He presents and publishes worldwide on many topics, including state-of-the-art dental technology and dental materials. Dr. Jablow is president of Dental Technology Solutions, a lecture and consulting company. For almost 20 years, he has been a member of his local peer review and currently works with patients and trains residents at the JFK Medical Center in Edison, N.J. As the Internet has grown, so has Dr. Jablow's online presence with his dental blog, webinars, and as a co-host for Dental Entertainment Network videos.