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Thursday, 21 February 2013 13:39

How Computer Applications Are Connected and Why It’s Important to the Dental Office Featured

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The Connection Continuum

dental software connections

When separate computer applications are connected we see words thrown around like bridged, integrated and native with the implication that one method is preferable to another. 

It’s not a case of good-better-best, but of trade-offs.  Understanding this is important when you are considering adding new software within your office environment.

Let’s start on the left side of our continuum, “standalone”. 

This is where the two applications have no interaction with each other and are in no way dependent on each other.  The operating system may give you some tools to move data back-and-forth, such as cut-and-paste, but this is entirely dependent on you and your mouse.  

Next comes “bridged”. 

This is where application “A” is aware of application “B” and can automatically move data to “B” to facilitate your transition between the two programs. 

An example of this might be bridging from your practice management system to an imaging program.  You’re in a patient window and wish to see their images.  By pushing a button your image viewer is launched and it goes directly to that patient’s images.

“Integrated” is our next stop across the continuum and as the chart indicates, information passes back-and-forth between the two applications to facilitate their use. 

We recently integrated credit card processing into our practice management system.  Even though the credit card system is optional, separate and provided by a different company the charges and credits move seamlessly between the worlds of Visa and MasterCard and the dental practice system.

Finally we come to “native”. 

This connection is really no connection at all.  Application “B” is a part of “A”.  Think of the appointment scheduler program in your office.  It is likely a native part of the practice management system, tying into accounts and all the other aspects of the practice. 

Years ago this used to be a separate application that came with an additional price tag and allowed the office to choose between the computer and their paper appointment books.  Now appointment scheduling comes native in practice management systems.

It would appear that the best choices, based on what I’ve said, would tend to the right side of our continuum diagram but it isn’t that simple.  

As you move toward “native” the element of choice is reduced.  If you aren’t concerned about connectivity between the applications then a “standalone” product should be your choice. 

If your new application will run on your computer it can be considered (a wide choice of “B’s”).  Obviously you have no choice with a native application.  You get what the vendor of the practice management system has chosen to provide you. 

The same can be true for “integrated” applications.  Your vendor is choosing which “B” you will use.  Bridges are more easily built and you often see a multitude of choices for bridged software.  Here’s a diagram that looks at our connection continuum compared against the factor of choice.

 dental software choices 
You might argue that I give up convenience and efficiency as I move to the left which can be the case, but you are also giving up choice. 

Choice allows you to determine which application best fits the needs of your practice.  Vendor choice also will keep your costs down. 

When choice is eliminated the product price will go up because you can’t go somewhere else (see our post on Dental Product Exclusives). 

If you don’t believe me, ask yourself why you paid $6.00 for a box of popcorn the last time you were in a movie theater.  It’s native to the movie experience.  Or is it integrated into the movie experience?

Preserving your right to choose is a right click.

Read 12080 times Last modified on Friday, 22 February 2013 09:51
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