Dr. Orentlicher, section chief of the Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at White Plains Hospital, observed that “Any new, innovative unfamiliar treatment workflow, material, software, instrumentation or equipment requires effort to master.” He continued, “Rarely is an innovation introduced in dentistry that comprehensively disrupts the way things have been done traditionally.” He observed that the hesitation that hinders or delays adoption of a new technology could boil down to time, money and fear.

Cloud-based dental practice management solutions are increasingly becoming the standard in the modern dental industry, particularly among multi-location group practices and dental service organizations (DSOs). However, for the many organizations that have yet to make the transition, implementing a cloud solution can seem like a challenging, significant undertaking. Barriers to entry include both real and perceived concerns about implementing new systems, including the extent to which it can disrupt a practice, the learning curve for a new system or simply overcoming the status quo.

Yet, the benefits of cloud adoption are clear and numerous, as evidenced across virtually all other industries where cloud adoption is approximately 90%. Even within healthcare, adoption is just under 90%, with the exception of the dental industry, which trails behind. However, groups and DSOs that have standardized on a single cloud-based practice management solution quickly see benefits as they streamline data and image storage, improve collaboration, increase data consistency for more accurate reporting and add layers of protection against cybersecurity attacks.

To help dental professionals transition to cloud-based systems smoothly, this article outlines the four key pillars for a successful transition. These include internal research and due diligence, external research and evaluation, setting standard operating procedures and utilizing vendor resources. By upholding these pillars, leaders of dental groups and DSOs can better select the right solution, ensure a smooth transition and maximize the success of their move to the cloud.

Pillar 1: Internal Research And Due Diligence

Internal research, due diligence and evaluation are the first steps to ensure a successful transition. Before embarking on a cloud conversion journey, decision makers should create a shortlist of the DSO’s non-negotiables. Leaders should meet with the key stakeholders to discuss what is most important to the organization, considering areas such as patient management, appointment scheduling, billing, reporting, IT, security and records management.

Once the non-negotiables have been identified and agreed upon, it’s time to explore the options. DSOs should conduct thorough research and evaluate vendors to ensure they narrow down to solutions that best meet their needs. Look for vendors with solid track records of successful conversion and implementations. Schedule demos to ask about current product capabilities, future roadmap plans and pricing structures. Beyond the solution itself, you’ll want to inquire about the training, implementation and support that their team offers.

Pillar 2: External Research And Evaluation

You’ll also want to speak with trustworthy industry colleagues. Ask other organizations similar to yours about their experience with specific vendors. Their feedback will help you get a realistic expectation of what you will experience during and after the transition.

The discussion should also cover how long the peer has used the product, what they find most valuable about it, what challenges they have experienced with the product or the vendor, how the product has changed their practice for better or worse and what recommendations they would give to a DSO considering the product. Make sure to look at online reviews or ask for references and case studies from vendors that you’re considering.

Pillar 3: Standard Operating Procedures

The third pillar to ensure a successful transition is to implement standard operating procedures to accelerate staff adoption. Uniform processes and workflows across locations are essential. Establishing clear and concise guidelines for how to use the new system will make roll-out, training and onboarding of future employees more efficient.

DSO leaders should encourage staff members to ask questions and provide feedback to gain buy-in and support during implementation and conversion. With comprehensive training, employees can feel confident as they transition to the new system, and DSO leaders can address any issues as they arise so they can use their new investment to its fullest potential.

Pillar 4: Vendor Relations

Finally, the fourth pillar is vendor resources. DSO leaders can leverage vendor resources to work with stakeholders and adhere to deadlines throughout the process. Vendors can provide guidance on best practices, offer training and support and ensure a smooth transition.


While the move to the cloud poses unique challenges for the dental industry, organizations that adopt this technology can better position themselves for growth and resilience in a fast-evolving industry. By upholding these four pillars, DSO leaders can better navigate through the implementation phase and move into the growth phase as an organization that standardizes and centralizes in the cloud.

This article originally appeared on Forbes Technology Council. The 4 Pillars Of A Smooth Cloud Transition For Dental Organizations (forbes.com)