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The Netflix Lesson: How the Cloud and SaaS Are Transforming Dentistry

Dental Products ReportDental Products Report February 2022
Volume 56
Issue 2

Lou Shuman, DMD, CAGS, has invited guest author Chris Salierno, DDS, to share his unique perspective on cloud practice management software for 2022 and beyond.

The Netflix Lesson: How the Cloud and SaaS Are Transforming Dentistry. Photo courtesy of Zinetron/stock.adobe.com.

The Netflix Lesson: How the Cloud and SaaS Are Transforming Dentistry. Photo courtesy of Zinetron/stock.adobe.com.

Do you remember when watching movies at home involved renting or buying a DVD from Blockbuster? Streaming services have permanently changed the landscape of the entertainment industry, and we’re on the cusp of a similar transformation in dentistry.

How the Cloud and SaaS Changed Movie Night

Streaming content to your TV offers a multitude of advantages over its predecessor, and those benefits can be attributed to a streaming service being both cloud based and software as a service based (SaaS).

The cloud is the name for the off-site servers and related infrastructure that replaced your DVD racks. SaaS is the name of the platform that delivers this content to you. With SaaS, you purchase a subscription and receive updates automatically.

Dentistry’s March Toward the Cloud

Practice management software has gained us back some physical space. We’ve also enjoyed being able to access patient information from any room we’re in with a computer, which means no more searching for a lost chart. But for many practices, this software and all the patient data is still stored on a local server, perhaps tucked away in a closet next to our nitrous tanks. This is not cloud-based, nor is it SaaS based.

Local servers come with significant disadvantages. Servers require weighty setup and maintenance costs. The hard drive or its related infrastructure can fail, temporarily shutting down your practice or risk-ing a loss of data. Local servers can be the target of malicious hackers who seek to exploit a small business.

Practice management software that is stored on a local server also has disadvantages. Updates may occur over the internet, but they can require significant downtime, and those updates are not happening continuously, so you have to wait for an improvement to be included in a new version. You also cannot easily access your software and data off premise. There are remote login programs that can be used, but these options have their own inherent security risks.

Transformation Gets Up Close and Personal

My breaking point came during the first 2 and a half months of the COVID-19 pandemic, when my practice was closed. Every time I fielded a patient emergency call, it seemed archaic that I couldn’t access records and book appointments. My partner and I chose Curve Hero, and we made the switch as soon as we got back to the office.

With true cloud platforms, your software and your data are stored in and accessed from the cloud. This offers convenience and efficiency not unlike streaming platforms. Fielding an emergency call from home? You can instantly read charts and radiographs, schedule the patient in your appointment book, and write a progress note.

We also found that switching to a true SaaS platform offered unmatched security. Curve data are continuously backed up to Amazon Web Services, safe from cyber threats and finicky local servers. The Curve team is able to constantly monitor feedback from their practices, finding opportunities to make those important improvements. When large improvements are released, they seamlessly integrate with the main platform. Shortly after our practice converted, our supplier introduced an integrated patient engagement module. Adding a module is like flipping a switch. The new features appear immediately, and everything just works.

Your Practice: Netflix or Blockbuster?

This is simply the direction in which our industry is headed. We are in the midst of a revolution in our profession. Do you want to build your practice using platforms and workflows that have a limited life span? We will see greater opportunities with software that is open architecture, accessible, and secure

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