If you have been researching cloud dental software, you have probably come across the term application programming interface (API.) Some vendors position these integrations as the cure-all for linking various software applications to build a tech stack that can do it all.
First thing first… what exactly is an API?
An API is a software interface that enables two or more systems, applications, or services to communicate with each other. They help simplify software development processes and allow businesses to add functionalities to their tech stacks without building the features from scratch.
But APIs have their limitations. While they often work well for industries such as e-commerce, the mix-and-match approach isn’t most suitable for the dental industry’s unique requirements. They may even create costly technical issues.
Here’s what you need to know about API integrations for dental practice management platforms.
The Limitations of APIs for Dental Practice Management Platforms
Despite what many vendors claim, API integrations aren’t as plug-and-play as advertised. Here are some typical issues and limitations that, unfortunately, many don’t know:
Multiple Systems, Multiple Problems
Since system connections aren’t standardized, each API integration may present unique challenges. Some applications may require extensive effort to integrate with others, while a tech stack with multiple API connections may become very complex, leading to runaway IT costs.
Every time you add a new application to your platform, you’re rolling the dice — the integration could work out seamlessly, or it could turn into an IT nightmare. Moreover, you have to stitch disparate pieces together to build efficient workflows to meet the specific requirements of the dental industry.
Ongoing Maintenance Costs
API integrations aren’t set-it-and-forget-it. Even though the software vendors take care of upgrades and patches, you still need to have in-house IT resources to ensure that the connections within your infrastructure are up-to-date. Therefore, you must consider the financial commitment to maintaining multiple API integrations.
Additionally, APIs often require connector apps (e.g., Zapier) to complete the integrations. You’ll need to account for their ongoing subscription and maintenance costs. Also, they add another step in the process where issues could occur.
Risks of Extended Downtime
If an API breaks, you can’t access the application and data until it’s fixed. But troubleshooting isn’t that straightforward with all the moving parts — is there an issue in your infrastructure, a problem at the vendor’s end, or a glitch in the connector app?
More things can go wrong in a system with many API integrations — creating bottlenecks, slowing down processes, and even grinding your operations to a halt. Your platform is only as stable as the weakest link in the chain.
When you scale up and add more functionalities to your practice management platform, the growing number of APIs can become cumbersome for an internal team to keep up and navigate. Also, not all applications can support the same level of scalability, and you may become limited by the capacity of a single software.
Additionally, the cost of all the applications can add up quickly when the number of patient records and users grows. The long-term cost of using APIs may become much higher than what you sign up for while multiple vendors may revise their pricing structure, making it harder to project your expenses.
Data Security Issues
API connections are vulnerable to cyber attacks, including man-in-the-middle attacks, CSRF attacks, XSS attacks, SQL injection, and DDoS attacks. The more connectors you use, the more opportunities for hackers to breach your systems. These vulnerabilities can increase the risks of data breaches and make staying HIPAA-compliant more challenging.
Get All the Functionalities Without the Downsides of APIs
Platform technology allows you to access all the features you need to run your dental practice without the downsides of API integrations.
With tab32’s all-in-one cloud-based dental practice management platform, you can choose the modules you need (e.g., patient communication, charting, imaging, billing) and configure them for a customized solution.
Since all the modules are on one platform, they integrate seamlessly with each other. All the modifications are synchronized so updates to one feature won’t cause issues across your platform.
You get an efficient and scalable solution with automated workflows optimized for dental practices. You can access everything at one affordable and predictable monthly fee to make managing both your finance and IT infrastructure infinitely easier.
Schedule a demo to see all our robust modules in action.
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