As the owner and operator of a dental practice, you might have wondered if it would be worth your while to outsource IT to a national specialized IT service, as opposed to a local generalized, perhaps one-person office. Why should you do so? What would be the challenges? The advantages? In this blog, we’re going to have a look and answer some of these questions for you.
Reasons for Outsourcing
A dental office will often outsource IT to a generalized IT service, often a small local one. The dental office employees will often think that the IT person is mainly there to keep all the computing services up and running, be there to jump in and intervene if something goes wrong or stops working, and also answer questions. And, that’s pretty much it!
In reality, there is a lot more to the job—and focused, dental managed IT services will cover it.
Since the Health Insurance Portability and Privacy Act (HIPAA) was enacted in 1996, it has been incumbent upon all health practitioners and organizations, including dental practices, to see that patient information is completely protected from fraud, theft and improper access.
Keeping a practice HIPAA-compliant requires not only a full comprehension of compliance requirements but a deep understanding of the hardware and software necessary to bring compliance about, specialization is key.
Protection from Ransomware and Viruses
A great part of HIPAA compliance is protection against malicious software since a data breach can result in patient privacy violations. It is a major duty of an IT department to do everything they can to keep a practice computer system—and therefore patient data—secure from malware.
Often a practice’s IT service person will install anti-virus software on a system, along with a firewall. But this is far from a complete solution. In addition to managed anti-virus software, dental managed IT services install and run managed anti-ransomware and a managed HIPAA-secure firewall. They also engage in real-time monitoring of servers and computers so that threats are caught well before they become an issue.
If for some reason, though, a threat succeeds in causing a system to crash or go down, the only solution is to recover from a backup. Every moment of downtime is lost income for the practice. A practice’s IT service person will often back up a system once a day—and if the system goes down, that person must be found, and they must have a way to restore that system as rapidly as possible. It’s not unusual for a good part of a day to be lost.
Dental managed IT services should operate a managed backup and recovery system that completely minimizes potential downtime. If time is needed to restore the system following a failure, the practice can be run right from the backup. On top of that, incremental backups are conducted throughout the day, and a full backup is then done at night. The threat of data loss in such a case is very minimal.
Up-To-Date Software and Hardware
Another vital duty of dental IT is to keep hardware and software up-to-date. This can be a time-consuming chore—so much so that it is often neglected in favor of “putting out fires” and keeping everything up and running.
Being lax about keeping hardware and software current in a dental practice is simply unacceptable. An out-of-date, unsupported OS—such as Windows 7, still being run in many practices—is a prime target for hackers. Upgrading to Windows 10, and up to date Windows Server for servers, which must be done to remain safe, also means inventorying hardware and making sure it can run the latest operating systems. This also means making sure practice management, imaging and other dental-practice-specific software is current and can run on the latest OS version.
Dental managed IT services should maintain complete update management, and as well keep track of patches and make sure they’re applied.
Now, do you see why specialized dental managed IT services are so vital to a dental practice? Let’s get started!