There are many significant benefits of having effective dental practice IT support, and there are potentially serious consequences of attempting to operate without specific dental office IT management. Dental practices need IT services provided by specialists who are familiar with the essential and unique requirements of IT for dental practices, vs. general IT support.
HIPAA and other laws impact IT management practices in dental offices. And, there are specialized software applications and platforms designed for dental office operations. So, having a general IT services company providing the general treatment of IT issues is insufficient by current standards of dental office operations, and much less so by legal standards for HIPAA and HITECH compliance.
The following insights on this critical point, provided by Daniel DeSteno of NOVA Computer Solutions, can be beneficial to dental professionals and IT services providers in thinking about the importance of specialization in IT services for dental practices. This information can help in overcoming false assumptions that general IT support is sufficient to handle the unique and very serious IT requirements of dental offices.
How NOVA Computer Solutions Became a Dental IT Services Specialist
Daniel started NOVA back in 2000 in the Mid-Atlantic, after years of working in IT for the U.S. government servers in Washington, D.C. His wife was working for a dentist who was having trouble with his IT. After he corrected the IT problem, the dentist suggested DeSteno approach another dental professional he knew to look into providing him IT service.
When the government then asked Daniel to relocate for two years to Korea, unaccompanied, to work on IT there, Daniel decided he didn’t want to live a world away from his wife, especially since they were trying to start a family. So, he did thorough market research to determine feasibility and decided to stay in the US and shift to providing dental IT services as his chosen field.
He started his IT support business in the corner of the basement of his home. Today, NOVA’s facility features a state-of-the-art model dental office, displaying the points of network technology used throughout a fully-digitally facilitated modern dental practice, to help dental professionals make choices in dental technologies.
From General Break/Fix IT Support to Managed IT Services for Dental Practices
DeSteno explains that NOVA started as a break/fix IT and continued in that mode of service for the first five years of operations. Eventually, he gravitated to a greater focus on Managed IT Services, as more dental professionals discovered they could not maintain their IT systems appropriately without proper management and that it made more sense to prevent issues from growing than to fix them after they became serious problems.
The Important Difference Between Dental IT Services and General IT Service
There are certainly many things that must be handled differently in providing dental IT services than in IT services to businesses or other IT customers. HIPAA compliance and PCI compliance are critically important to dental professionals and their patients. These requirements add another layer of complexity to IT service.
Experienced experts specializing in dental IT services offer an important advantage for dental practices over MSPs that are either new to providing dental IT services or who provide only generalized IT support. As dental IT specialists working so much in proximity with dental records, we’re bound to compliance with the same HIPAA Omnibus, HITECH Acts as dental professionals because we have access to all of their legally protected patient data. MSPs that work primarily with businesses don’t have the same level of familiarity with special requirements for privacy protection in an email, and other areas of IT management that dental IT specialists have.
Dental practices and their IT services providers both have too much at stake to assume that employing non-specialized IT support practices is sufficient. IT support providers who are inexperienced with these requirements are less likely to know how to protect their clients’ and their businesses.
Staying Current With the Best of Dental IT Services Industry Knowledge
Daniel explained that industry peer groups are a critical source of new industry information and support and that they have been invaluable to his service to his dental office clients and to making his business a leader in the field of dental office IT services. We belong to two peer groups, one of which has about 65 member companies across the country that primarily work in the dental IT vertical.
We all get together about once a year and talk at other times. Some of us are competitors. We talk about what’s working for us, and we openly share information and solutions. I know my business wouldn’t be the same today if it wasn’t for those peer groups. You can grow and learn by leaps and bounds when you’re around people who have the technology information you need and are willing to share it. If you’re a dental-specific IT services company, a peer group membership is worth its weight in gold for your company and your clients. It is a resource for sharing a wealth of the latest technological information to benefit all organizations using information technology and companies that provide them with IT support.
What Keeps Dental IT Services Specialists Awake at Night
What worries me most is crypto currency and cyber-security. New threats emerge every day. That’s the biggest thing that keeps me up at night, thinking about our clients’ vulnerabilities and our vulnerabilities.
We’re currently working with the FBI to help us get on their lists, so we can be made aware as soon as new threats come out. Cyber-crime will always exist. It’s really the biggest thing we talk about. We demo in meetings, turning the camera on just to illustrate for people how easy it is to get into their computers. People often don’t understand how important and how big their network vulnerabilities are.
The Future of Dental Information Technology
Asked to look to the future of technologies for the dental IT industry, Daniel said that he expects two-factor authentication to come to the medical / dental IT space. It will be used to log you in, and when you leave it will lock you out, among other things. Having an improvement as small as that is still sounds exciting, because it will increase efficiencies and security for our clients and their patients and employees. Also, being able to integrate more IoT devices will add an additional dimension to dental IT functionality that can further increase efficiencies of dental office operations over the coming years.
Important Advice for Dental Professionals and Their IT Services Providers
I think there’s a lot of value in today’s competitive market in specializing to really learn one vertical and become really well known and trusted in that one. It creates depth of knowledge and efficiencies. If you’re just working on general IT for small businesses, you don’t really get the opportunity to deep dive into any area to develop the necessary skills and knowledge needed ever to provide specialized services. Becoming strictly committed to a single vertical made all the difference for us at NOVA in serving our clients and in growing our reputation and our business.
NOVA Computer Solutions, Dental IT Services
NOVA exclusively provides IT services for dental practices. For more information about formal plans for HIPAA compliance in dental IT systems and office operations, or about specific IT services for dentists, contact NOVA Computer solutions at (888) 711-3234. Ask for a no-obligation assessment of your dental office’s IT systems.
As a consultant to dental practices, I help my clients maximize what can be done with their technology to maximize production and profit.