Remember how cool it was when you got your first USB Thumb Drive. “Wow, I can have 2GB of storage on that tiny key stuffed in my pocket!” This was a great leap forward from having to ‘Burn a CD’ the previous cool thing.
There are some disadvantages to USB keys:
You can lose them. This is a real concern as far as HIPPA security concerns. If you have anything patient related on that key when it is lost (and it is not encrypted), you have a HIPPA violation.
You can forget them. Who hasn’t wanted to get something from or copy something to their USB key, only to realize they don’t have it with them.
They cost money. Not much money though, a 2GB key only costs about $10 today.
Well, the next Cool thing is here to replace the USB Key. Enter the one of the first really useful Cloud apps. Online personal storage is a folder you keep up in the Cloud. No more USB Key in your pocket, your Data lives up in the Cloud (somewhere) and you sync it down (via the Internet) to as many of your personal devices as you like.
There are multiple companies out there offering personal online storage, but my favorite so far is from Dropbox.com. (Check out my comment at bottom of this article regarding Google’s new G Drive) I have found it super convenient, and have literally stopped using my USB key.
What does that really mean? Here’s a brief example of how you use it, and why it’s BETTER than a USB Key in many respects.
- Create a Document, for this example lets say it’s a PowerPoint presentation you will be working on.
- At work, on your Windows PC, you might create the first draft of the document. The end of the day comes and you want to take it home with you. Rather than saving it to a USB Key, copy the file into your “Dropbox” folder on your PC and head for home
- Later that night from home you can sit down at your Mac (or PC), open your Dropbox folder on that PC, and keep working. When you save the evenings changes, its synchronized back immediately to the copy in the Cloud, plus back to your Work PC.
- Maybe in the morning while you are at Starbucks getting a coffee, you want to look at the presentation again to read through it. Fire up your iPad, open the Dropbox App, and your presentation will be there and waiting. Open on the iPad and review as you like.
- When it’s time to give your presentation, start up your Laptop (Mac or PC), and Dropbox will immediately start to download (synchronize) and files it doesn’t have locally. Soon your presentation will arrive into your Laptop’s DropBox folder and you are ready to go.
As you can see from this Dropbox is a magician of keeping your files synchronized across multiple devices.
Works with Anything
Dropbox is designed to work with:
Your Windows PC
Your Apple Mac computers
Your Smart Phones (both iPhones and Android phones)
Your Smart Devices (like iPads and Android Tablets)
On your PC or Mac, you download and install the Dropbox application, and this sets up a Dropbox folder on your computer. Anything you save in that folder is automatically sync’d to all the other computers you have Dropbox installed on. Each computer keeps a complete copy of your Dropbox folder stored locally on it. This is great. If one of your computers is a laptop, and you take a plane trip, you can work on your data on the plane, and as soon as you land and connect back to the Internet, all your data is synchronized back to the Cloud and other computers you have it setup on.
Your Smart Phones and Smart Devices download a free Dropbox app. They don’t store a copy of your files locally until you ask to open it. This is deliberate in order to sparingly use the limited storage and bandwidth these devices have. They show you a list of all your files, and when you click to open one, it downloads it then (which takes a few seconds depending on the file size and connection speed of your device).
If you’re temporarily using a computer that isn’t your (perhaps a hotel business center PC, or a colleague’s) you can still access your files without installing the Dropbox app. You go to the Dropbox.com website and login, and your files are all available for download, or you can upload a file from the computer you are at. All through just the Web interface. Cool.
Sharing Files Made Easy
Dropbox also allows you to share a file from your folder with someone else. You drop a file into the ‘Public’ subfolder inside your Dropbox folder. You then get a special Web Address (URL) that you can email to someone, and they click on the link and can download that file to their computer. Very simple.
You can also share a subfolder amongst a group of peers. Perhaps you and several friends all went on a trip together, each taking digital photos. Afterwards, you are all looking to share the photos into one big pool. If you each have a Dropbox account, you can create and share a folder within your Dropbox folder with them. Then, anything any of you adds to that folder is automatically sync’d to all your friends’ folders. You can also imagine using this to collaborate on a document with someone. All you need to do is save the file in the folder, and leave the complexities of getting it to your peers to someone else.
You Backup all your data right? You backed it up last night right? What if your computer was stolen? Or what if there was a fire or flood that damaged it? What if the hard drive simply fails? Having a backup is something very worthwhile. If your files were all stored in your Dropbox folder, they would be sitting safely in the Cloud after any of these disasters, and you could simply get another computer, install Dropbox, and they would start synchronizing back into your new computer immediately.
A Million and One Uses
Perhaps an overstatement, but besides replacing your personal USB Key, what else could Dropbox do for your Practice?
It could help you use an iPad in a consultation. Perhaps you’d like to have a patients photo or x-ray on the iPad. How is the Treatment Coordinator (TC) supposed to easily and quickly transfer these to the iPad? Use Dropbox. Have an account setup just for the consult room. Anything the TC puts into the Dropbox folder on their desktop can almost immediately be viewed on the iPad.
Speaking of iPad’s, wouldn’t it be cool if you could sign a document on it during a consultation. Imagine the TC just handing the patient the iPad with the informed consent form on it, and asking them to just sign with their finger. You can do this, and Dropbox is part of the solution shuttling the document between the TC’s computer and the iPad. Want to learn the rest of the method to do this? We’ve posted the solution as a separate blog article found here.
Many Doctors have a standalone copy of Dolphin Imaging on their personal laptops. When they want to take a case home, or take a case to a referring Dentist to discuss, they use Dolphin on their laptop. One of the hassles is getting the exported Dolphin case from the office computers over to the laptop to re-import. Use Dropbox for this. Have one of the staff export the Dolphin case as a DAZ file, drop it into Dropbox, and its ready for you to import on your Laptop. By the way, you can also do this using Dolphin’s cool AnywhereDolphin feature that’s free to you if you are under support.
If you have muliple offices, perhaps you are ‘Muling” files back and forth to the Satelitte office each time you are there. If you have an Internet connection at both locations, you could setup a dropbox folder on both ‘Servers’ and let Dropbox keep them in sync. For example, if you used Orthotrac Office v10 (not the newer v11 that uses SQL server), it would be a simple matter to have Dropbox sync the database to the remote office location. Plus, it ends up being an Internet Backup of your Practice database.
Dropbox offers a 2GB account to anyone for FREE! That’s a great deal. No hook, no ‘give us your credit card in case you exceed the limit’, just simple and free. Go to Dropbox.com and click on Sign Me Up. Make sure you use a really good (hard) password; you are keeping personal files and patient data in this account.
Need more than 2GB? Dropbox also has a Dropbox Pro 50 account you can upgade to. For $10 per month, or $100 per year, they will give you 50GB of storage space. That’s about 17 cents per GB per month, which is really cheap. There is even a Pro 100 account if your need it.
I’d suggest you start out with the Free 2GB account. Dropbox has a refer a friend promotion, and if you refer a friend that starts to use Dropbox, they will give you an additional 250MB of storage on your Free account (up to 8GB total storage). Soo, if you’d like to start using Dropbox and don’t mind me collecting the 250MB for a referral, please click on this link to sign up (thank you if you do).
You can learn more about the features online at the Dropbox website, or by watching this YouTube clip
There’s no reason to wait. Head over to Dropbox now to setup your free account and start using it immediately.
Since your existing IT person didn’t suggest this to you, perhaps you would consider working with the people that did. If you need a little help setting this up with your Practice, this is what MME Consulting does. We can help you implement this quickly and efficiently. Just give us a call at 866-419-1102 or check us out online at www.mmeconsulting.com.
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