Glossary of Terms

When it comes to technical jargon and terms, it's easy to get lost. We want you to feel in total control and at ease, so we try not to use cryptic acronyms in our communication. But still, you might run across some jargon now and again as you are doing your research. To make it easier for you, we have assembled this glossary of terms. It is not intended to be complete. It is intended to be relevant and understandable — perhaps even blunt. If you can't find your term, we'd be happy to research it for you. Just give us your term and your contact information and we'll be sure and scour our vast resources for an appropriate definition.

You'll notice that these are not in alphabetic order. They're in what we might call a "relevant grouping order". That's just a fancy was to say that we put them in an order that makes sense to us, but probably not to anyone else. Happy studies.

  • Web-Based – This is perhaps the broadest of terms relating to software products that are designed from the ground up to run in a web-browser. The software does not require being installed. You can access your data from virtually any web enabled Mac or PC. Web-based systems are upgraded by the manufacturer and don't require you to purchase or maintain a "server". This is in contrast to a client/server application that requires an installation (even if that installation is done by downloading something from a web site).
  • The Cloud – the new, more elusive, ethereal terminology for "Web-based". There are many nuances and different shapes around the issue. Just like there are cirrus, cumulous, cumulonimbus, or lenticular clouds in the sky, there are also various flavors of clouds on the net. However, in the end, we are talking about less hassle, less expensive, faster deployment and overall where the current technology is (not where it used to be — see "client/server").
  • SaaS – Software as a Service. This term came onto the market in about 2005 and has gained popularity ever since. It is basically the same delivery as described in Web-based, but adds the connotation that the product is sold as a subscription instead of an up-front license fee. It also connotes that the product includes all the upgrades, enhancements, hosting, storage, backup and various other services all bundled together into one service fee.
  • On-Demand – This is really the same meaning as SaaS. It means that you can access the product "On-Demand" from any web enabled computer.
  • ASP – Application Service Provider: Many years ago, in an era known as "The Dot Com Bubble", a business model was created called Application Service Provider. This was traditionally done by using a product like Citrix, or Terminal Server, and displaying one computers screen on a different remote computer. Companies that offered this service became known as an Application Service Providers and the service is frequently referred to as an "ASP". As true Web-based products started to come onto the scene in 2001, some people referred to them as ASP's, but really a Web-based technology is substantially different. However, early on, no other official name had been presented, so the term ASP sort of filled the spot until more appropriate and descriptive names (such as Web-based or SaaS or On-Demand) were put forward.
  • AJAX – Asynchronous JavaScript and XML — This is the technology used by many Web-based systems to deliver a real-time experience over the web. Until the introduction of AJAX, web sites worked like ebay, where every time you click something, the whole web page refreshes and you have to wait for the whole page to reload.
  • Web Enabled – This is the term that the client/server companies introduced to make the industry think they were on top of things. In our opinion, it's really just a development cop-out. So, when you hear the sales rep say, "oh ya, we're web-enabled" recognize that's an excuse for not having "the right stuff".
  • Web Integrated – This is the twin brother of Web Enabled. Same story, same challenges, same set of smoke and mirrors.
  • Client/Server – the software architecture that most legacy Dental Software systems use. In the 80's and 90's it was all the rage (sort of like the music group Air Supply or Rave Dances). Those in San Fernando Valley would say, "it's sooo yesterday". Some Client/Server systems are trying to be "hip" by putting on "web integrated" tools and "web enabling" certain features, but underneath, it's still Client/Server. It still requires installation on a specific machine, it still requires a local server to maintain and support, and upgrade, and troubleshoot. It is still inefficient and unproductive and just doesn't fit a modern lifestyle. You can book an airplane ticket on-line; you manage your retirement savings on-line; you probably even purchased your last electronic gizmo on-line. Shouldn't you be able to manage your business with the same easy and simplicity?
  • Client – this is half of the equation in a client/server application. You install software on the client that talks with software that you install on the server. After installation, both have to be configured to work together.
  • Server – this is the more powerful computer on which the database software and most of the patient data resides. In most dental offices, it is typically located in an unsecured location like a broom closet or under the front desk. The data on the server must be backed-up (sometimes through software installed on a Client). When a thief breaks into a dental office, one of the first things they think of stealing are the client and server computers. This creates significant risk in losing Personal Health Information and could put you at odds with HIPAA laws.
  • PHI - Personal Health Information – this is any personally identifiable health information regarding a patient. For example, if a patient's name, procedure, and a medical alert is on the appointment screen on the computer, that information is considered PHI and is therefore subject to HIPAA security regulations. When a different patient leans over the desk to identify an appointment time that they would like, if that PHI is visible to the 2nd patient, then that is considered a HIPAA Breach and should be reported to the patient whose information was shared inappropriately. Thankfully CurveHero provides a nifty little feature that turns off all PHI that is visible on the screen for just those occasions.
  • ROI - Return on Investment – An indication of the financial appropriateness of any investment. When it comes to Dental Software, Web-based systems offer a stronger ROI than client/server applications. Just Google it and read. Most every article and blog will say the same thing. Web-based beats client/server hands down.
  • BAA - Business Associate Agreement – the document that permits disclosure of PHI for purposes of managing your business. For example, a Business Associate Agreement should be filled out by each vendor that might have access to your patient data. If you have an "IT guy" that is setting up your system and passwords etc. then they should have a BAA for you to sign.
  • Data Conversion – the process of extracting, manipulating, and importing and then finally testing the information taken from a legacy system to the new system.
  • Data Extraction – This is getting the data out of a legacy system in a format that is readable and can be manipulated to a usable form. If there is garbage in the data, the process of data extraction does not typically remove the garbage. Data Extraction is different on every system. Some systems Data Extraction is as simple as copying a data file and transmitting it to us. Other times, Data Extraction requires creation of custom reports and then producing those reports in an electronic instead of printed form. Data Extraction process will determine how much data and what quality that data will be.
  • Data Manipulation – The process of massaging the Extracted Data to match a specific data format or schema. It involves a substantial understanding of data base structures, many different sophisticated data manipulation software tools, and an incredible attention to detail. This is where the magic happens of data conversions. Watching our data conversion staff do their stuff is really a sight to behold. Sort of like Merlin in the Disney animation Fantasia.
  • Data Import & testing – The final step of the data conversion process. This is where all the hard work starts to look like a usable system. Once imported, and then testing is done to ensure the process all worked, you are ready to go, whahooo!
  • FTP - File Transfer Protocol – This is a secure process where you can transfer sensitive data in a secure fashion over the web. It is frequently used by our Data Conversion staff to get your extracted patient data in preparation for Data Manipulation. Of course you can just email a file, but unless encrypted and password protected, email isn't as secure and can't usually handle extremely large files. FTP is sometimes the preferred method.
  • Multi-Tenant Architecture – This is the technical term for a software development structure that enables multiple users to have separate data, but utilize the same code for a web-based system. The beauty of such an architecture is that every office is on the same release and version. There are significant benefits to you, the dental office. First, you don't have to install updates, we do that for you. Second, when we install the update, most all users are updated at the same time. Our support technicians don't need to ask "what version are you on" because everyone is one the same version. When we fix a bug or add a feature, every office get's it automatically and all at the same time. No worries, no hassles.
  • VPN - Virtual Private Network – This is a technology that client/server companies will use to make communication between two offices secure. It requires special software and custom installation. An "IT Guy" will defiantly be needed to install and maintain the system. They aren't free either. There is no need for a VPN with a Web-Based dental software system like CurveHero. Because it was designed from the ground up as a web application, we can use the best encryption and security tools available — the same and sometimes better than the national banks use to transmit billions of dollars a day.
  • Web 2.0 – This is a general term applied to a second generation of web development and web design. It is in contrast to static web pages, and incorporates dynamic content, information sharing, and collaboration. It's not actually a different internet; it's a different way of using the internet. CurveHero is definitely a Web 2.0 application.
  • CurveHero – The fresh web-based alternative to dental software.

Undoubtedly the dental staff will want to know more about our software and computer training, and the best way to get start is by calling us. One of our likable dental software experts can tell the staff and the doctor more about how our training is scheduled and conducted.

For more information, check out our Call Me service. Or, you can chat with one of our dental software experts, e-mail us, or pick up the phone and call us. Curve Hero is a fresh, web-based alternative to dental software. Act now!

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