Cloud based practice management systems have come a long way and I believe the concept of cloud computing has unlimited potential. However practice management is just a small part of how we now use computers in the treatment rooms.
Clinical computers are far more than simple data entry business machines, they need to support a host of new clinical and diagnostic devices. For example, in addition to Practice Management software a treatment room computer needs to support digital radiography, X-ray sensors, digital photos and image management, CAD-CAM, impression cameras, multiple monitors, caries detection, heads up magnification, video guided surgery, multiple inputs including computerized probes, voice charting, video input and even vital signs. The treatment room computer must have a high speed Internet connection and needs to support multimedia patient education, streaming video and communication with sound and speakers.
For this reason treatment room computers need to be the biggest and fastest machines in the office and need to be updated regularly, at least every three years. Often we put the most powerful machines at the front desk when in fact the business aspect of the practice requires much less computing power than the clinical side.
It is a mistake to believe that you can save money with basic input output computers if you use a cloud based management system. You will still need a powerful machine for the the rest of the clinical functions such as CAD-CAM.