Making those painful IT decisions easier

by Business growth, IT, Performance reporting

Making those painful IT decisions easier    By Robert Powell. February 22, 2017.

There are so many difficult decisions to make for business owners, and many are painful enough without the added problem of not fully understanding the options or the implications. Take your dental practice IT systems for instance. I get it — a boring topic that can be hard to wrap your head around — but one that’s inescapable and important. Let’s quickly look at the three approaches you can choose from: cloud, client-server and host.


What is it?

Cloud solutions are web based systems for filing and accessing your practice information (literally everything you need from patient records to scan images, accounts, the diary and payroll). Imagine a Google drive calibrated to the functions of a dental practice.

How does it work?

The core app (how users access the information) is hosted in a secure data warehouse and your team can access everything they need, via the web, through its user friendly interface which will be intuitive and simple.

The advantages

It’s portable; you can access your data on almost any device, anywhere. It runs on low spec kit (pretty much anything) and backups are done centrally. It’s  an easy way to run multiple practices from one piece of software and you can access records from anywhere and get a real time view of what’s going on in each practice. Your provider will guarantee a minimum uptime (the amount of time the system is up and running), so you don’t need to think too hard about contingency planning. Cloud technology is partly open source and so it’s a way of keeping pace with change — your provider will always be maintaining and upgrading things in the background, so no more massive version upgrades to cope with. Beyond three sites, you’d pretty much always choose cloud.


What is it?

You will no doubt have used many a traditional client-server network in your time, even if you didn’t realise you were doing it. It’s designed for end users (client computers or terminals) to access data from a central computer (server) that’s usually based in the practice.

How does it work?

A server’s sole purpose is to do what its name implies and serve its clients, which can be any device making requests from it. The client usually uses a cable network as a way to speak to the server and when nothing’s happening the server will close the connection to free up network traffic.

The advantages

It’s robust and secure and can be a good in-house solution for a single practice. You control everything, but then again you have the cost of everything and the hassle of upgrading everything yourself.

Hosted systems

What is it?

The one in the middle. You can have a big server somewhere and run multiple sites off it, with physical communications lifeline, usually landlines, between the server and the sites.

How does it work?

Like the client-server system, you’re maintaining your own network but this one’s bigger, across multiple sites using dedicated landlines. The core application and the data sit centrally and are accessed via the network locally.

The advantages

Can work well if you have two or three sites. You get to see what’s going on across them, and share records and data although there is a cost to this. Your infrastructure cost is higher and you’ve got the cost of the landlines, and what if your landlines go down? You could be looking at a major headache.


If you’re setting up a new practice or were thinking about making changes to your business that might be better served by a practice IT upgrade, making the right choice is critical as it will lay the foundation for so much, in particular your performance reporting, which is still massively underutilised in dentistry — according to SOE, 80 per cent of practice owners don’t know how their business is performing and 60 per cent don’t even know where to find the information.

I can help you choose an IT system that fits your business goals without any more worry and confusion — get in touch for a chat.


07968 730047

[email protected]


“I can help you choose a system that fits your goals without any more worry and confusion”

Robert Powell, director of performance reporting

Author: Robert Powell