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8 myths about cloud-based veterinary software

When selecting the best practice management software for your veterinary hospital, you have a variety of options. One of the first of many questions to ask yourself, to narrow down those options, is whether you prefer server-based or cloud-based software.

The advantages of cloud-based software are numerous. You can access patient files and practice information remotely; you can grant clients accessto  their pet’s medical information; and you don’t need to invest in purchasing and maintaining an expensive server.

But even these benefits may leave you wondering, “What’s the catch?”

Myths and misconceptions abound when it comes to cloud-based software. The better you understand the reality behind these myths, the better you can make a truly informed decision.  


Myth: My data will not be secure in the cloud.

On the surface, it might seem that a server offers greater data security than cloud-based software. After all, your information is stored within the walls of your practice. Sure, you need to perform regular backups, but the information is safe. And besides, who could possibly access your network?

Unfortunately, any number of people could potentially gain access to your server.

If you’re like most veterinary practices, you probably don’t have an information technology specialist in charge of keeping your server secure. You might also lack policies to prevent physical access to the area in which your server is located. These factors, and others, may leave your system prone to vulnerabilities.

In contrast, cloud-based software is protected by an entire information security team. These individuals search for security weaknesses and take proactive steps to keep your data safe. Backups are also performed routinely, taking one more responsibility off your plate.


Myth: Cloud-based software means that I don’t have to worry about data security at all.

While cloud-based software is likely more secure than server-based software, you still need to guard against cybersecurity threats that could compromise your practice data.

Regardless of whether you’re using cloud-based or server-based software, it’s important to implement security policies that will protect your practice data. Talk to your staff about creating strong passwords, handling phishing emails, and dealing with potential telephone scams. Ensure that your web browsers and other software on your practice’s computers, tablets, and other devices are kept up-to-date, in order to ensure the best security protection possible. 

[See also: Power outages & phishing scams: Data security for the digital practice]


Myth: My software provider will sell my data to other companies.

Any high-quality cloud-based software provider will operate under strict confidentiality guidelines. Of course, it’s always best to review your provider’s specific policies and licensing agreements to ensure that’s the case. However, your hospital information and your clients’ information should be just as confidential in a cloud-based environment as they would be in a server-based system.


Myth: Cloud-based software only works for paperless practices.

Although there are many paperless practices that use cloud-based software, being paperless is certainly not a requirement.

If your practice currently uses practice management software for accounting and reminders, while maintaining paper medical records, you can use cloud-based software in the same way. Cloud-based software is typically easy to customize, allowing you to take advantage of the features you like while ignoring those features that don’t make sense for your practice.

Using cloud-based software for medical records has a number of advantages, but you don’t have to use electronic medical records to reap the rewards of cloud-based software.


Myth: Potential internet outages will cripple my practice. 

In most areas, internet outages happen less often than you probably think. But it’s important to think carefully about your particular circumstances. If your internet frequently goes out, it’s true that you may need to address your connectivity issues before transitioning to cloud-based software.  

If it’s rare or occasional outages you’re worried about, think of a backup plan. In many cases, a cell phone with hotspot capabilities can be used to operate a limited number of workstations until your internet is up and running again.  


Myth: The cloud gives me less control than conventional practice management software.

While it might seem like you would have more control over a server that’s housed within your building, the opposite is often true.

Cloud-based software has a variety of unique features, which can be configured in whatever way you choose. Additionally, greater attention to a user-friendly, intuitive design can make your computer-based tasks more efficient. Finally, cloud-based software allows you the opportunity to manage your practice remotely, providing you with greater control and flexibility.


Myth: Cloud-based software is more expensive, due to the monthly subscription fee.

Yes, it’s true that cloud-based software comes with a monthly subscription fee. However, cloud-based software eliminates the up-front costs associated with purchasing software, as well as the fees associated with purchasing and installing a server.

Even server-based software is not without ongoing fees, as you will need to budget for server repairs, server replacements, software upgrades, and other recurring expenses. In the case of a cloud-based server, many of these maintenance fees are included in your monthly subscription.


Myth: All cloud-based software providers can connect with any third-party solution.

This is not always true, so it’s important to do your research! Some cloud-based software solutions can integrate a wide variety of additional apps and resources, such as payment processing and client communications programs. In contrast, other cloud-based software programs are only compatible with a limited number of aligned tools, locking you into a particular ecosystem.

When shopping for cloud-based software, look for an open API (application programming interface). This will enable you to layer onto the system the tools of your choice, with the help of a developer. Even if you aren’t planning to use additional apps at the moment, it’s best to plan for future needs and goals when selecting your veterinary software.  


Bottom line: Research with an open mind

When considering cloud-based software, it’s essential to do your homework. Be sure that you understand the advantages of cloud-based software, and take the time to research any myths or preconceptions that you may have about various software solutions.

Finally, remember that there may be significant differences between cloud-based software providers. Look into these differences, and evaluate your options carefully to make the best choice for your practice.


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