Your Software

Choosing the Best Setup for Your Multi-Location Practice


Using Open Dental for your multi-location practice can be done in several different ways. In this post, we’ll explore the different options and what makes a setup the right fit for your practice.

General Setup

For any of the following multi-location solutions, apart from Remote Connection, your office will need to work with an IT professional to set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or other network solution to allow access to remote servers. Open Dental Support is unable to assist with network setup or troubleshooting. You may also need to contact Open Dental support to sign up any new locations for support.


The Clinics feature allows your practice to share one database amongst multiple locations and allows users to quickly access data between locations. If your patients or providers often switch between locations, clinics make it easy to schedule appointments in multiple locations.


Clinics also allows your practice to set up operatories, appointment views, and email addresses separately for each clinic. In addition, each clinic can set up its own billing defaults. Clinics can still share fee schedules, even if they have different fees, by entering in clinic fee overrides. For more information on what can be customized for each clinic, see our Manual.

This solution is best for multi-location practices that would like to maintain a single database for all locations in order to have easy access to patient data across locations and easily run reports for multiple locations. Many reports can also be filtered by clinic, so practices can still get data at the clinic level while enjoying the ease of keeping a single database.

For more information on clinics, review our previous Blog Series:

If your practice is currently using separate databases, our Conversions team can merge your databases into a single database with clinics. There is a fee associated with each merge. Visit our website for additional information and pricing.

Central Enterprise Management Tool (CEMT)

The Central Enterprise Management Tool (CEMT) is a tool that allows certain users easy access to multiple databases. With this setup, each location will still maintain its own server and separate database, but users with CEMT installed on their workstations can easily access each unique database.

multi-location CEMT

This solution is best for multi-location practices that want to maintain completely separate databases for their different locations but may have some users (e.g., insurance coordinators) who need to access data at other locations. CEMT only needs to be installed for users who should have access to multiple databases and can be set up to include all or only some of your databases.

CEMT allows users to run the Production and Income Report for multiple locations at once. However, all other reports must be run from the individual database and will show data from that database (e.g., that location).

From the CEMT, users can also search patients across multiple databases, making it easier to find which location a patient is assigned to. If a patient begins being seen at another location, the CEMT Patient Transfer tool can also be used to copy patient demographic information (e.g., name, address, etc.) to another database. See our QuickTip video for more.

Separate Databases without CEMT

For multi-location practices that want to utilize separate databases that are accessible at multiple locations, but don’t want to install CEMT, there is another option. When not using CEMT:

  • Databases are less easily accessible than when using CEMT.
  • There is no intercommunication between the databases.
  • Reports cannot be run for multiple databases.
  • Patient search can only be done per database.

To access separate databases, users can create dedicated shortcuts on their desktop targeted to each database. This allows the user to quickly open a specific database without needing to enter connection settings each time.

Without dedicated shortcuts, users can access other databases by entering the connection settings (e.g., Server Name, Database, etc) into the Choose Database window. In order for the Choose Database window to appear when launching Open Dental, users need to ensure that “Do not show this window on startup” remains unchecked.

This solution works best for practices that may only need access to multiple databases on occasion, but not on a regular basis. A VPN must be set up in order to access databases outside of your home office server. If a VPN is not set up, databases are only accessible from the local network (e.g., the local office).

Remote Connection

For multi-location practices that do not wish to set up a VPN, 3rd-party remote connection software is a great solution. This option is best for when users only need access to other databases on occasion or when off-site. Using remote connection software allows a user to control a computer that is in the office from a different location/computer. Because the user remotely connects to an on-site computer, this means that other staff at the office cannot use the computer at the same time. Visit our manual for additional information, including recommendations for remote connection software.

For additional information and help setting up these solutions, visit our Manual Page on Multiple Locations or contact our support team.

Categories: Your Software

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