More and more dental practices are outsourcing their IT needs, and are reaping the benefits of such a choice. By using a vendor, you are able to maintain better control of your IT budget, you can leave the headaches and complexity of IT technology to the experts, and you can save on office space (which is often at a premium), as well as hardware costs. However, it can be tricky to find the right provider for your dental practice, so here are seven things to look for when outsourcing your IT services.
They Take Security and Privacy Very Seriously
Dental offices are not immune to hacking and data theft. In fact, personal health information is a very desirable target for hackers. A solid IT provider will make sure that your system has up-to-date security software and tools to protect that data. This can include firewalls, encryption, anti-virus, web filters, and anti-malware software. It also entails keeping security software and tools up-to-date and patched.
No dental practice can afford to have a hacker prowling around in their patient’s data. In fact, ransomware crimes are escalating in the healthcare sector. Imagine logging into your network only to find that hackers have seized all your patient records and are holding them for ransom. Either you pay or you could lose everything. Consumers are not very forgiving when they hear that a favorite store or medical practice has been hacked.
An often-neglected aspect of security is not only making sure your data is backed up, but can be quickly recovered if an issue should arise. A good IT provider should offer a system that allows you to seamlessly continue normal operations while repairs are being performed. You can’t afford to lose access to patient files, billing information, and scheduling. Any good IT services provider should rank your network security as a number one priority.
Support HIPAA Compliance
The importance of HIPAA compliance cannot be overestimated, and you need an IT provider that is not only well-versed in the rules and regulations involved, but is as dedicated as you are to preserving the privacy of your patient’s information. A good dental IT vendor will be committed to securing your patient’s sensitive information and will offer tools and features to help support HIPAA compliance.
They Understand the Practice Management Software You Use
Dental practices have IT needs that are far different from other types of healthcare practices. It’s important to find an IT provider that is experienced not just with dental practices but with the particular type of practice management software you use. It is vital that they efficiently integrate the IT services they provide with things like patient clinical charting, radiographs, and digital x-rays. To do this well, they must be familiar with the type of software you use.
They Focus on Your Needs
A good dental IT provider will be focused on the specific needs of your practice. Before anything is implemented, you should expect your IT provider to perform a thorough review of your technology requirements. And when outsourcing your IT, make sure they understand not just the ins and outs of IT, but the special challenges involved with a dental practice. This way they can integrate the most important components of your dental practice with an effective, reliable IT system. This will ensure better productivity for your staff.
They Support Cloud Services
Another key feature to be considered when shopping for an IT provider is cloud services. Cloud services can save on the cost of (and space required for) server hardware. The cloud makes backup and disaster recovery easier and more robust. If you choose to go with a paperless office, then cloud services are your best answer. In fact, cloud services can make HIPAA compliance easier as well. There are a lot more great reasons to choose the cloud and your IT services consultant should be able to spell these out for you.
They Can Help You Scale
As your practice grows, your IT needs are going to expand. Make sure that any IT services company you are considering can help you easily scale up your IT resources both in terms of hardware and software. Whether it’s setting up additional storage for your practice’s file system or installing an upgrade of your practice management system, they should be able to fully support your needs not just now, but in the future.
They Are Strong on Support
Having the most state-of-the-art, robust IT system does your employees little good if there is poor customer support. Check into what types of remote support any potential IT providers offer. Let’s face it: when the IT network goes down, it limits access to critical files and you need that access restored ASAP. Imagine the chaos that can quickly result when your staff can no longer pull up a patient’s chart or schedule appointments.
Another aspect of support is onboarding, where the IT vendor provides you and your employees with training. Good training for your employees is vital. They may need extra help in dealing with the bugs that seem to go along with new software installations.
If you are planning to outsource the IT needs of your dental practice, keep in mind key factors like security, HIPAA compliance, scalability, and support. Also, don’t forget to make sure they are familiar with the practice management software you use, as well as dental office needs in general. Finding a suitable IT services provider can be challenging, but you’ll be glad you made the switch to outsourcing if you take the time to find the right IT provider for your dental practice.
As a consultant to dental practices, I help my clients maximize what can be done with their technology to maximize production and profit.