Dental Practice Data Centers Move to the Cloud

May 17, 2017
Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN

The days of having a data server in your dental practice may be numbered. Health care – including dentistry – is embracing the shift toward cloud-based computing. One study expects a complete shift to cloud storage in the next five years. The cloud computing change has specific implications for dentistry.

One prediction states that all healthcare facilities will be using cloud-based computing and data storage by 2015.

In healthcare facilities nationwide, data storage — including patient records, billing, and analytical information – is moving into the cloud. As a result, more facilities are focusing on eliminating their on-site servers in favor of integrating the entirety of their electronic information into cloud-based storage systems. Some are even seeing large rewards from doing so.

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Migration to the cloud is not a new concept, according to a report in Healthcare IT news. In 2003, an article suggesting the eventual commoditization of IT sent shockwaves through the industry, although many people did not realize the full implications of such commoditization. Many businesses used their own datacenters to store information and increase computing power, but now a growing majority are realizing it makes more sense to outsource those functions to multiple providers for less expense, especially when compared to what is necessary for maintaining their own systems.

One prediction estimates that all types of healthcare facilities, including dental practices both large and small, will integrate fully to a cloud-based technology infrastructure within the next five years. In fact, many organizations have already made the transition and have seen several benefits from doing so.

In one example, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are beginning to see big dividends from cloud integration. The organization created a cloud-based analytics platform that has already eliminated $5 million in infrastructure spending.

James Lawson, Chief Solutions Officer at Verge Health, says, “Several years ago it was ‘You're crazy if you think we'll put patient data in the cloud.’ Today, it's, ‘You're crazy if you think you're going to put patient data in my servers.’”

The implications for larger dental practices and organizations could be more significant than for smaller dental practices, at least for now.

Lawson continued, “When you're the last man standing with a datacenter, and your competitors are using that capital to generate revenue, the upside of moving to the cloud will become crystal clear.”

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