Purchasing A Dental Practice? What IT Equipment & Services Do You Need?
11 Things To Consider
We get a lot of calls from dentists who’ve purchased an older practice and find that they need to do major upgrades to hardware and software. This can be overwhelming to take on without a Dental IT expert to guide you. Here are some of the things you should consider before opening your doors.
1. CAT6 Cabling
Make sure the dental office is equipped with CAT6 Cabling. This is what modern dental offices require today. It’s composed of 4 pairs of copper wire for high performance, reliability and security. It supports a 10 Gigabit network and Ethernet that transmits one gigabyte per second. You’ll also save on money when you add computers to the network. It costs almost nothing to do this if your CAT6 Cabling is already in place.
You definitely need a server. You don’t want to store your software applications on your computers. A server’s operating system is much more stable than a computer’s operating system. Your entire team can also access your applications and files from a computer that’s connected to the server. Of course, you always have the option of using software in the Cloud. However, not all software is available in cloud format. You’ll need to house these in your server.
3. Cloud-Based Solutions
With cloud-based applications and files, you can not only securely store data and applications in the Cloud, but you and your authorized staff will have the ability to access them from anywhere you have a computer device and internet connection. If you want to work from home on the weekends, or if your office is closed due to a winter or summer storm, you’ll still be able to get some work done.
Most dental practices in Northern Virginia choose to have both a server and a cloud-based system. You shouldn’t use a public cloud due to HIPAA patient privacy regulations. You must make sure that your ePHI remains secure. You’ll need a private cloud for this purpose.
4. Up-To-Date Computers
Make sure that your staff has the modern computers they require. They’ll need computers for things like:
- The collection and management of patient information.
- Administrative, scheduling and bookkeeping duties.
- Showing your patients why they require a particular treatment.
- CAD/CAM to make dental restorations (Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing).
- Online searches for PubMed and Journal articles.
- Consulting with your partners and staff about a diagnosis and recommended treatment.
The number of computers you purchase depends on the size of your practice. The average-sized practice requires 6 computers:
- 1- Front Desk
- 3 -Operatories
- 1-Dentist’s Office
- 1- Consultation Room
A cost-saving solution is to ask your IT provider about Hardware-as-a-Service. This is where you lease computers on a monthly basis rather than purchasing them. You can write off the leasing cost as an operating expense – you won’t have to depreciate computers as a capital expense. And this saves you money the money you need to get your practice going.
Your IT provider will be responsible for ensuring your computers run properly – all maintenance is included in the monthly fee that you pay. Your computers will be replaced by new ones every few years, so you’ll always have the latest models. You’ll also have the flexibility to add or remove computers if your practice grows or shrinks in size.
If you do decide to purchase computers and IT hardware, your IT provider can get you a better price in many cases than you can on your own.
5. Mobile Solutions
When purchasing or leasing workstations, also ask your IT provider about mobile solutions like tablets and smartphones. Many practices are going mobile. Their staff can move through the office and input or access data from the server with their tablet. Also, ask them about Mobile Device Management. With this service, your IT provider can wipe the data from a mobile device if it’s lost or stolen.
You’ll definitely want wireless access, but you must ensure it’s limited to only your staff. You can set up a separate WIFI service for your guests to use while they’re waiting in the lobby for their appointments. You’ll need a router and access points to ensure coverage throughout your office. You’ll also need Ethernet cabling and switches.
It’s best if you let your IT provider design a WIFI setup for your dental office. They will consider things like:
- Your workflow.
- The office configuration.
- What wireless technologies you’ll be using.
- How to integrate them with your IT infrastructure.
Many factors go into planning the layout of a WIFI system for dental offices. It’s essential that your network remains private and that your patients can access your guest WIFI without accessing your office WIFI.
All wireless systems come with security turned off by default. Most people aren’t experienced in the proper wireless set up for complete network security. For this reason, your IT Provider should configure your router, computers and wireless devices for security. They will use a WPA setup with a wireless encryption method for securing your connection.
Your workstations will need a wireless adapter to access your wireless networks. Most workstations don’t come with one, although your laptops and tablets will. You’ll need either a USB (Universal Serial Bus) adapter or PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect ) for each desktop computer.
7. Backup System
Backing up to a local storage device is fine, but it’s not enough. With the right cloud-based backup system, you’ll be assured that your confidential data is securely stored and accessible even if your office is closed, or damaged due to a disaster like flooding or fire.
It’s best to let your IT provider establish your backup system. They will ensure that your system backs up regularly and automatically, and that your backups are always viable and recoverable. Ask them about virtualization. The is where your entire IT system is backed up, including your software applications.
8. IT Security
Ask your IT provider about a cybersecurity solution with managed firewalls, antivirus and web/email protection. You don’t want just to purchase a firewall and set it up yourself. There are too many cybersecurity threats today, and your ePHI is valuable to hackers.
Ask about a complete Network Security Solution with Remote Management and Monitoring (RMM) that detects and eliminates unauthorized intrusions. RMM also detects and irregularities in your network that could result in downtime. Your IT provider can block intrusions and repair problems automatically before you even know they are there.
9. Email Security Services/Hosting
Your IT provider should be capable of providing secure email. They can ensure that it’s protected against spammers, hackers and security exploits.
10. Business Phones
A VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone solution can provide access even when phone lines are down from a storm. And by replacing your traditional phone lines with SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), you can save from 20% to 50% on your monthly phone bill. SIP is a signaling protocol that includes voice, video and messaging applications. It not only reduces your phone bill but adds performance features.
11. A Provider Experienced In Dental IT
Look for an IT company that has experience working with dentists in Northern Virginia and DC. NOVA Computer Solutions specializes in setting up and managing technology for some of the top dentists in our area. We can get your new dental practice going with new servers, computers, software –whatever you need, and without the headaches and significant costs.
If you’re looking for an IT team in the DC Metro Area that’s experienced in serving busy dental practices, contact NOVA Computer Solutions in Woodbridge, VA.
In the meantime, stay up-to-date on significant developments in business IT. Visit the NOVA Blog! Here are a few articles to get you started:
How To Use @Mentions In Microsoft Office
How Much Should Your New Startup Dental Practice Pay For Specialized Dental IT Services?
Have Questions On HIPAA 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.