Sep 21, 2022

How Dentists Can Avoid 7 Common HIPAA Violations

Sarah Harris | Sep 21, 2022 | 7 min read
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Even a single HIPAA violation can have some serious repercussions for your dentistry practice. Failing to comply with federal regulations could not only lead to fines, but HIPAA violations could compromise confidential patient data.

Ultimately, this could lead to long-term damage to your dental practice’s reputation and prompt patients to seek a new provider.

Like most providers, you are probably extremely careful to protect your patients’ protected health information (PHI) when actively handling this data. However, what about when you are not interacting with or accessing the data? Is it secure when it is “at rest” on your servers?

Most dental providers are very cognizant of HIPAA regulations governing the sharing of PHI. Unfortunately, many practices have compliance blind spots that can lead to unintentional HIPAA violations. Most of these blind sports are related to how they manage patient data on their technology platforms like Dentrix and Eaglesoft.

To help you avoid falling victim to these same oversights, we have created this list of 7 common HIPAA violations and how you can avoid them. The violations that you should be on the lookout for include the following:

1. Releasing PHI to Unauthorized Entities

The much talked about HIPAA Privacy Rule governs when you can release protected health information and who you can release it to. If you or a staff member releases PHI to unauthorized individuals, businesses, or other entities, you can incur severe penalties.

It is important to note that these releases do not have to be intentional to constitute a violation. Inadvertent or negligent information sharing can also open your practice up to liability.

There are many real-world examples of this. For instance, let’s say that an insurer requests information about a patient and their recent dental procedure for legitimate purposes.

If a staff member sends the insurer the patient’s entire dental records, this may constitute a violation. You are required to disclose the minimum amount of information necessary when sharing PHI with authorized third parties.

Another possible means by which your staff could be disclosing HIPAA-protected PHI is via phishing attacks. A phishing attack is a widely used tactic for committing cybercrime.

During a phishing attack, a hacker will send their target a fake email that is made to appear legitimate. They are attempting to trick the target into sending them confidential data, such as protected health information.

 

How to Avoid Releasing Data to Unauthorized Parties

To avoid this mishap, you must thoroughly vet people or businesses before providing them with confidential patient data. However, this can be easier said than done.

Therefore, it is vital that you implement a comprehensive health cybersecurity strategy, properly train your staff, and leverage modern practice management software (PMS). We will take a deeper dive into these solutions in the upcoming sections.

2. Disposing of PHI Improperly

HIPAA regulations not only regulate when and how you disclose PHI but also what to do with it when you dispose of it. Discarded PHI records could fall into the wrong hands if they are left in a viewable condition.

Once again, many dentistry practices go wrong here by focusing solely on tangible records. Naturally, you would shred any paper patient files or other physical records before tossing them in the recycling bin.

But what about devices that store patient data? Are you completely wiping their hard drives before you throw them out or send them to an e-waste recycler?

To avoid this common HIPAA violation, you should:

 

Wipe All Devices Before Disposal

If you are still storing all of your patient data using on-premises solutions, it is well past time for an upgrade, but that is a conversation for another time.

Let’s say that you still store most patient data on local devices. If so, it is critical that you completely wipe their hard drives before turning them over to a third-party recycler. Otherwise, that data could be recovered by bad actors and used for malicious purposes.

Even if you get lucky and the data is not abused, failing to wipe your devices before disposal still constitutes a HIPAA violation. This reality means that you are opened up to hefty fines and other penalties.

3. Using Unauthorized/Personal Devices to Access Data

You must have a comprehensive data security policy to be compliant with HIPAA regulations. Among other things, that policy should outline what devices you and your staff can use to access PHI.

There is nothing wrong with allowing your staff to access this data using their personal mobile devices, provided the right security measures are taken.

However, if you want to limit PHI access points, you may want to prohibit your staff from using their own devices. If you decide to go this route, make sure to enforce your policy. If staff members are using unsecured or personal electronic devices to access PHI, they could be exposing patient records and committing a HIPPA violation in the process.

Save yourself some headaches and guard against this violation by:

 

Setting Clear Rules and Enforcing Them

Provide your employees with clear rules regarding which devices they can use to access PHI. After you have established these provisions, enforce them. If you are going to allow your staff to use personal devices to access confidential data, implement security measures to minimize the risks of data exposure.

4. Failing to Train Staff

Even the best dental practice cybersecurity strategy will not be effective if your staff has not received any data security training. Investing in cybersecurity technologies and neglecting training is like purchasing an expensive alarm system and then leaving your front door unlocked.

With that being said, you do not have to spend hours training your staff every single month. One or two in-depth training sessions per year should allow you to cover the basics. However, you should follow up these annual or bi-annual sessions with monthly or quarterly refreshers.

 

Train and Train Some More

When you’re planning employee cybersecurity training, do not rush through it so you can check it off your list. Take the time to develop a proper training course and administer it to your staff.

If you cannot devote an entire day to cybersecurity training, spread it out into 1-hour blocks that staff can complete over a week or month. Make sure to test them post-training to determine whether they retained the information that was presented to them.

5. Improper/Non-Existent Data Protection Practices

Do you have a data protection policy? If not, you are setting yourself up to be the next victim of an opportunistic cyber-criminal. Data security policies should serve as your roadmap for preventing and responding to cyber threats. If you do not have such a policy, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to attack.

To solve this issue, all you need to do is:

 

Create a Cohesive Plan

If you do not have a cybersecurity plan or policy, start creating one as soon as possible. An imperfect plan is better than no plan at all. Once you have hammered out the rough details of your plan, go back and refine it. If you have no idea where to begin, seek out a local dental IT support provider for help.

6. Neglecting Physical Security

What is stopping an unauthorized user from accessing your patient file room or computer equipment? Hopefully, the answer is not “nothing.”

Physical files should be protected by a locked door, at a minimum. Only authorized individuals should have a key to access said files. If practical, you should also secure files in locked filing cabinets and install a camera covering  the entrance to the room. This setup will help you regulate access to your files.

You will also need to implement some physical security measures to protect your electronic files. Ideally, you want to use a two-factor authentication process for accessing all devices.

This setup simply means that users must complete two separate login processes to begin using a device. For example, they might be required to enter a password and swipe their ID badge.

7. Failing to Create a Risk Management Plan

A risk management plan is a distinct part of your overall cybersecurity strategy. The latter should outline your entire set of policies and procedures related to data security. On the other hand, a risk management plan is your guide for responding to potential data breaches or other security threats.

One of the worst mistakes you can make is to assume that your staff will “know what to do” during a breach. A response plan takes the guesswork out of dealing with cybersecurity threats and will help your staff mitigate the amount of damage that a breach causes.

If you are at a loss when it comes to creating a risk management plan, we recommend that you:

Connect with Zenith Dental IT

As dental IT support experts, Zenith Dental IT has the knowledge and expertise necessary to help you tackle your biggest HIPAA compliance concerns. We can connect you with the right dentistry technology to improve data security, drive efficiency, implement automation practices, and enhance the patient care experience.

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Sep 18, 2022

Top Qualities to Look for in a Dental IT Support Company

Sarah Harris | Sep 18, 2022 | 7 min read
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Are you tired of encountering dentistry technology problems every time you set foot in your office? Has your practice’s need for IT support outgrown your capabilities? Need help wrangling your unruly suite of IT assets but can’t afford to hire your own in-house team? Want to get more out of your practice management software (PMS)?

 

If any of this sounds familiar, then your practice would benefit greatly from hiring a dental IT support provider. Such a company can get your IT problems under control while simultaneously helping you implement modern automation tools and technologies like Eaglesoft or Dentrix.

 

With that being said, not all dental IT support providers are created equal. A small-town, local dental IT support provider might not offer the same services as a top-of-the-food-chain team. That’s why you must carefully vet each prospective partner before entrusting them with your digital assets.

 

To help expedite your search, we have created this guide outlining the top qualities to look for in a dental IT support company. Let’s get to it so you can find the ideal provider for your practice’s needs.

What’s a Dental IT Support Company?

First things first, what exactly is a dental IT support company? Simply put, a dental IT support firm is similar to a managed services provider (MSP). The only real difference is a dental IT support company only works with — you guessed it — dentist offices and dental service organizations (DSOs).

 

A dental IT support company will act as your entire information technology team. If you already have a few IT staff on payroll, a support company will augment them and resolve challenges that might exceed your in-house team’s capabilities.

 

That’s the great thing about a dental IT support company — it can provide precisely the amount of service and support that you need at a fraction of the cost of in-house staff.

 

Another huge advantage is that these companies have entire teams of experts, each of whom specializes in remedying particular types of IT hurdles. This scope means that they can connect you with the perfect person to address the specific challenges you are facing at any given time.

 

THE MOST TRUSTED IT COMPANY IN THE DENTAL INDUSTRY

Over 15 years industry experience, our team is comprised of highly experienced engineers that have an immense understanding of dental technology and delivering cutting edge solutions to dentist nation-wide.

Signs of a Great Dental IT Support Company

Interested in leaving your information technology woes behind you by working with a dental IT support company? If so, then you should find a partner that offers:

 

1. Transparent Pricing

The last thing you want is to hire a dental IT support company, fully use their services, and then receive a jaw-dropping monthly bill far exceeding the quoted rate.

 

This entire scenario plays out far too often in IT support. Some businesses include hidden fees in their service agreements and tack these extra charges onto their clients’ bills throughout the month.

 

The good news is that great dental IT support companies do not resort to these shady tactics. Instead, they offer transparent pricing so that you know exactly how much your bill will be.

 

Many of these top-tier support providers even offer an unlimited IT support model, which means that you pay a fixed fee no matter how many times you request assistance.

 

2. A Full Suite of Services

Like virtually every other dentistry business, your practice probably leverages a wide range of IT assets daily. A few examples include PMS technology, email, and WiFi networks.

 

Therefore, you need a dental IT support company that can assist in maintaining and monitoring all of these assets. Top options will offer a suite of services that include:

 

  • Anti-virus software installation
  • Remote network monitoring
  • Off-site cloud backup
  • Remote IT support
  • HIPAA compliance

 

You will need all of these services, whether your dental IT support provider offers them or not. If you choose a provider that does not provide each of the aforementioned types of support, you will either have to handle those tasks in-house or outsource to a separate company. Either option will create a logistical nightmare.

 

To avoid this headache, ask each prospective partner what services they offer. If they do not offer all of the services you need, continue your search until you find a provider that does.

 

3. Round the Clock Assistance

What good is a dental IT support provider if they are not available when you need them? With that in mind, make sure to find a provider whose hours align with those of your business.

 

Ideally, you want a provider who opens before your practice and closes after it. This setup will ensure that they are available to provide support before patients come in the door and just before closing as you are preparing for the following day.

 

The best dental IT support providers are available 24/7. However, as long as their hours extend beyond yours, they should be able to provide quality support.

 

4. Monthly Reporting

How do you know if a dental IT support company is actually doing everything that they claim to do? The answer is that you don’t unless they are providing you with a monthly report detailing the actions they took during that service period.

 

When inquiring about monthly reporting services, ask specific questions. Find out what details are included in the report. The report should include information about what vulnerabilities were discovered and how those vulnerabilities were remedied.

 

5. Offsite Backup Services

Offsite backup services are the best way to protect your data from cyberattacks or natural disasters. Top dental IT support companies offer offsite backups as part of their comprehensive suite of services.

 

These providers will not only perform backups, but they will also provide daily audit reports. These reports confirm that the backup was completed and that the copy of your files was successfully transferred in a usable condition.

 

6. A Simple Support Model

Managing all of your various information technology assets is inherently complicated. However, accessing support from your dental IT services provider should be anything but.

 

Before you commit to a dental IT support provider, find out its procedures for reporting information technology issues. If the process seems overly complicated and convoluted, don’t hesitate to ask follow-up questions.

 

Most dental IT support companies will provide you with a link for submitting service requests, also known as “support tickets.” They should also have alternative ways of submitting requests in case your internet is completely out at your practice.

 

While you are inquiring about the support model, also ask what the provider’s average response times are. They should be able to confidently answer this question and provide you with some firm data that demonstrates the quality of their services.

 

7. Vendor Relationship Management

If you have ever wasted an entire afternoon playing phone tag with one of your software vendors, it is an experience that you never want to repeat. We can hardly blame you, as the entire process can be tedious, time-consuming, and downright frustrating.

 

Speaking with software vendors can become even more aggravating when the agents you are connected with only speak tech and cannot look at things from your point of view.

 

Fortunately, you can alleviate this burden by finding a great dental IT support company. Such a company will provide vendor relationship management services. In short, they will call your vendors and software providers, so you don’t have to.

 

Since they too speak the language of IT, they will be able to apply the information that is provided to them to efficiently remedy your technology issues.

 

8. Scalability

A major concern for most dental practices that are considering outsourcing is growth. In essence, business owners like you want to know what happens if they outgrow the level of support they are currently receiving from their MSP. Will they have to choose a new dental IT support company?

 

If you take the time to choose the right provider, you should never encounter this problem. Instead, your dental IT support company should allocate additional resources to your practice as your needs grow.

 

Naturally, accessing these additional resources might require you to upgrade to a higher subscription tier, but that comes with the territory of growing your business.

 

9. A Great Industry Reputation

Lastly, you want to find a provider that has a great industry reputation. What are other dental practices and DSOs saying about the support team? Have they accumulated dozens of four-star and five-star reviews, or is the feedback less than inspiring?

 

Anytime you read reviews, make sure to approach the process with an open mind. If a company has hundreds of positive reviews, then it probably provides an exceptional level of service. Conversely, if a business has many negative reviews that cite the same complaints, it may not be the right partner for you.

Zenith Dental IT: The Premier Dental IT Support Provider

If you are interested in a provider that exhibits all of these qualities and more, look no further than Zenith Dental IT. Our highly experienced team strives to deliver maximum value to our clients by connecting them with quality digital resources and technology.

 

Additionally, we provide expert, timely support so our dentistry clients can focus on more important things — like helping their patients achieve optimal oral health.

 

Interested in learning more about the scope of our services? If so, contact us today. We will gladly provide you with a transparent quote so that you can make an informed decision.

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Sep 14, 2022

12 Things to Look for in Dental Practice Management Software

Sarah Harris | Sep 14, 2022 | 7 min read
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Information technology has become an integral part of our daily lives, and that’s especially true for small business owners. When your small business is a dental practice, you will need management software that will help you maximize the quality of care you provide to your patients.

The right software can help you stay competitive while promoting the efficient operation of your business. For this reason, buying software off a store shelf may not be the best option. Instead, you will want customized software that’s designed, installed, and maintained by a professional dental IT service.

When seeking out a software solution, consider these 12 important elements:

1. Strong Cybersecurity Technology

One of the first things you will want in your dental practice management program is a strong defense against cybercriminals.

Your system should guard against hacking, phishing scams, and other threats that might compromise your patients’ data. This consideration is especially important for dental and healthcare providers who have a legal obligation to keep patient records private.

Outsourcing to a third-party IT service is one of the best options because it gives you access to cybersecurity support. Even after they install your system, third-party dental service organizations (DSOs) will keep your operation up-to-date. Routine updating will ensure your practice is always using the best cybersecurity measures.

The third-party service will also make sure your staff is fully trained. A large part of protecting against threats involves keeping your employees aware of the tricks used to gain unauthorized access to your business. When your staff takes greater care in protecting your business, data breaches become far less likely.

2. Accessibility to Cloud Computing

If you own a practice with multiple locations, managing your business is easier with cloud computing. This approach allows you to store patient data and computer programs in your cloud account for use from any computer terminal with internet access.

When you offer certain dentistry services at different locations, you can use your cloud account to update patient records immediately. Even when you take on a new patient, receiving their records from another dentist is easier when that data goes into your cloud account.

3. Automation of Administrative Services

One hugely beneficial aspect of dental practice management software (PMS) is that administrative tasks get linked together.

For example, once services are complete, the charges for those services will instantly appear in the patient’s account. You can also set up payment request notifications that will be directly sent via email or SMS.

Automating your practice’s administrative tasks will also help patients interact with your business more efficiently.

They can set their own appointments via your website, and the appointments will appear in your digital calendar. A dental IT support service can easily integrate your customer-facing website with your management software to improve patient interactions.

4. Improved Filing Systems

You can work with a third-party IT service to set up a filing system that’s convenient for you. This approach might involve storing images, such as x-rays, in each patient’s file, or you might want a separate file for those images. Since the needs of a dental practice are unique, your IT specialist can help you design the system that works best for you.

This customization is especially beneficial when you need to store clinical charts, prescriptions, billing info, and other data. You’ll want all of this information available in each patient’s file, but you might not want them all lumped together in a single folder.

An IT technician can design a directory of files that keeps everything linked together yet ensures the security of every folder.

5. Support When You Need It

When you buy business management software from a store, you may only be able to reach their customer support hotline during normal business hours. Additionally, you may need more personal attention than you can get over the phone.

Since your dental practice may be open in the evenings or on weekends, this limited availability of support can become a problem.

When you work with a dental IT service, you’ll have access to more personalized attention. You can call for local dental IT support whenever you may need it, and the third-party service will send help to you. They will help you resolve your IT issue as quickly as possible to keep your practice operating efficiently.

6. Inventory Notifications

Running out of supplies in your dental practice can prevent you from treating patients. You will find that it’s easier to maintain a full inventory when you use fully integrated management software. As your inventory gets low, you can set up notifications to let you know when it’s time to reorder supplies.

A fully automated system orders supplies without waiting for a staff member to act on a notification. This setup eliminates human error and ensures you will receive a new batch of supplies on time. Your system can link to the systems used by your suppliers and distributors for even more efficient inventory management.

7. Unlimited Access

Office efficiency can be compromised when multiple people in the office need access to the same patient’s file. This overlap is a common problem for dentistry offices that are still using paper files.

Switching to dental practice management software will eliminate this situation. Accounting personnel can easily update patient records as you’re accessing those same records to complete a different task.

You can also use the software to control who can access patient files. Your IT service can show you how to grant access to a new employee and revoke access from a former employee. The authorization protocols in your software application will increase office efficiency by ensuring that your practice is more secure.

8. Easy Integration with Imaging Equipment

Make sure the IT service you decide to hire can integrate your customized management software with the digital imaging machines in your office.

This integration will make it easy for you to transfer x-rays and other images directly into a patient’s file. Rather than having to download the images or print them for storage in a hard file, you can instantly transfer them.

9. Faster Claims Processing

Management software for your dental office can help eliminate one of the biggest headaches healthcare providers face.

Processing insurance claims is necessary for the treatment of your patients, but it’s also a tedious process. Your staff spends a large chunk of their time filling out forms that must go to insurance companies before your office can receive payment.

Fully-integrated management software makes it easier to process insurance claims by automatically filling out the necessary forms. All your staff will have to do will be to read through the forms for accuracy.

After approving each form, the correct insurance provider can receive it. In addition to saving your practice time, this will help you get those claims processed more efficiently.

10. Collection of Data for Analytics

Ask your dental IT provider to set up a system for collecting and analyzing the data that your work generates. This information gets used in a variety of ways to help you improve the patient care and office efficiency of your practice.

A variety of sources, such as patient care files and vendor delivery records, give you a complete picture of your practice. Once the data gets organized into easy-to-read documents, it can help you determine how to cut spending, improve your marketing campaigns, or provide a higher level of care.

For example, data analytics can tell you how much revenue your dental hygienist generates. This information can help you decide whether to reduce their working hours or change how they provide their services.

11. Better Employee Training

Ask your IT service provider if they offer training services for new employees. Many companies do provide this type of training to ensure new personnel are comfortable with the use of your system.

They may also provide you with training materials, such as videos or pamphlets, which can help employees refresh their understanding of the software.

As the system gets updated, employees should learn about any new changes to the management software. This updating might require a training session organized by the IT team that services your system. Your employees should also feel encouraged to reach out to the IT professionals with questions and concerns.

12. A Good Reputation Among Past Customers

Before you choose an IT service to design and implement your dental practice’s software, research their history. The best way to do this is by looking at the reviews left by past customers. Search online for customer reviews and ask for referrals to past or current customers.

As you look through reviews, keep in mind that every business will have some negative reviews. However, there should be a higher number of positive reviews with customers pointing out the ways in which the company exceeded their expectations.

If you’re having trouble picking an IT company to design your software, reading customer reviews can help you make that final decision.

Get a Free Quote Today

Zenith Dental IT offers the administrative support software your practice needs. When you visit our contact us page, you can request a quote for the services you need to run your practice more efficiently.

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Sep 11, 2022

Why Your Dental Practice Needs Cloud Backup Services

Sarah Harris | Sep 11, 2022 | 7 min read
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Like most modern practices, your dental office likely uses some form of practice management software (PMS) to track, store, manage, and access patient data. The data contained on your PMS and other forms of dental technology are critical to the day-to-day operations of your practice.

 

Now imagine that you walk into your office tomorrow and start prepping to see your first patient. You get out the requisite equipment, ensure that the treatment room is clean, and log into your computer so that you can review the patient’s records.

 

However, you quickly realize that all of your vital patient data is gone, not just for that individual but for your entire list of clients.

 

We know that the above scenario sounds like the stuff of nightmares, but the chances of a total data loss are much higher than you might expect, especially if you are not using dental IT support that include cloud backup services.

 

Rather than bury your head in the sand and hope that you never experience a catastrophic data loss, join us as we explore cloud backup solutions. Below, we recap what cloud backup services are, see how they stack up against on-premises alternatives, and outline the benefits of storing your data in the cloud. Let’s dive in.

What Are Cloud Backup Services?

Chances are that you are probably already using cloud backup services to protect the data on your smartphone. Whether you fall into the Apple or Android camp, you can admit that your device does not have enough storage to handle all of your photos, apps, and other data.

 

That is why both of these providers offer additional cloud-based data storage for a small monthly fee.

 

When you plug your phone in at night and connect it to WiFi, your files, text messages, photos, and other data are uploaded to your cloud account. Should you lose or break your phone, you can download all of your data onto your new device from the cloud.

 

If you are allowing your phone to update your cloud account nightly, then you will never lose more than 24 hours of data, even if your device is rendered totally inoperable.

 

The same basic premise applies to cloud backup services for dentistry businesses. At predetermined intervals (usually every 12 to 24 hours), a copy of all of your practice data will be uploaded to off-site servers.

 

The servers are typically managed by a third-party provider, such as a remote dental IT support company. This provider will charge a monthly fee based on the amount of storage that you require.

Cloud Backup vs. On-Premises Alternatives

You can backup your data files by sending copies to on-site servers. The benefit of this approach is that you maintain control over the physical devices that contain your data. You can even transmit the data via a hardline so that it does not have to be shared via the internet.

 

However, the downsides to this approach far outweigh any perceived benefits. For starters, purchasing and maintaining your own servers is incredibly costly. Additionally, once you use up all of your storage space, you will need to buy more equipment.

 

The most notable disadvantage to on-premises backups is that these servers will be exposed to the same conditions that your primary devices are. For instance, if your practice suffers a flood or fire, the backup servers will probably be destroyed alongside your other equipment.

 

When you use cloud backup services, your data is copied, encrypted, and transmitted to off-site servers. Even if your office is leveled by a natural disaster, the data stored on off-site servers will be safe and usable.

 

Another advantage is that cloud backup services are available for an affordable monthly fee — if you need more storage, simply up your subscription to the next tier.

 


your data is copied, encrypted, and transmitted to off-site servers.

Benefits of Cloud Backup Services for the Dentistry Industry

There is no question that cloud backup services are a better option than on-site data storage. But in case you are not sold on the value of investing in cloud backup services, let’s outline a few more benefits of this strategy. When you take advantage of cloud backup services, you will experience benefits such as:

 

  • Increased Security

Many people suffer a misconception that cloud backup services are not as secure as on-premises options. Fortunately, this misconception has been largely debunked in the last few years. Business owners have finally realized that cloud backup services are as secure — if not more secure — than on-premises alternatives.

 

Before your practice data is routed to the cloud, it is copied and encrypted. Think of encryption as a means of jumbling data so that third parties cannot interpret or use it.

 

Only those with an encryption key can restore the data to its normal state and view it in a readable format. While this is an oversimplification, just know that encryption keeps your data from being intercepted and stolen by bad actors with ill intentions.

 

Once the data arrives in the cloud, it will be considered to be “at rest.” This designation simply means that no one is interacting with the data.

 

While the data is at rest, the cloud storage provider will actively monitor its network to ensure that no unauthorized parties can access your data. They will also routinely test your backups to ensure that the data was properly copied and transmitted.

 

  • Less Stress

Cloud backup services are meant to provide you with peace of mind. Think back to the scenario described in the opening section of this article. Should you arrive at your office and find that your servers have been wiped, all you will have to do is contact your cloud backup services provider and let them restore your data.

 

Instead of wasting weeks or months attempting to piece together bits of jumbled information, you can completely restore your files to their previous state in hours. If your files are backed up at the conclusion of each work day, you will not have lost even a single patient file.

 

  • Automatic Backups

One disadvantage of on-premises solutions that we did not mention is that you have to manually schedule file backups. What happens if you forget to perform a backup at your scheduled intervals?

 

Admittedly, you can set up automatic backups with on-premises solutions, but you will still need to manually test those files to verify that the backup was completed properly. Don’t you already have enough on your plate?

 

Fortunately, cloud backup services will prevent you from having to take on any new responsibilities. The services provider will use automation technology to manage backups. They will even test your backup files for you to ensure that all files are 100% usable.

 

If an issue occurs, your backup provider will notify you immediately and take the necessary steps to remedy the problem. This setup means that you can spend more time caring for your patients and less time worrying about data losses and other tech issues.

 

  • Decreased Costs

When you have purchased on-premises servers and data storage equipment before, you know firsthand how costly it all is. If you have not, we will give you a hint — it’s expensive. We are talking tens of thousands of dollars.

 

To make matters worse, buying this equipment is not a one-time expense. Once you use up all of your storage, you will need to purchase additional equipment. If you do not know how to install or maintain it, you will need to hire someone for that as well. As you can see, the costs quickly rack up when you decide to store backup files on-site.

 

Conversely, cloud backup services are incredibly cost-effective. Your dental IT support provider will assess your storage needs and give you a transparent quote on cloud data storage. When you use up all of the space you have been allotted, they will let you know that it is time to upgrade your subscription.

 

  • Compliance

Want to avoid any HIPAA compliance issues and the hefty fines that come with them? If so, then that is just one more reason to take advantage of cloud backup services.

 

A reputable dental IT support provider that offers cloud backup services will know how to store your data in a manner that is 100% HIPAA compliant. This approach will help you avoid incurring any violations while simultaneously protecting your patients’ confidential information in the process.

How to Start Using Cloud Backup Services

Are you ready to reap the benefits of cloud backup services? If so, then you need a great local dental IT support provider like Zenith Dental IT. As part of our comprehensive support model, we offer affordable cloud backup services. We can also assist with the implementation of leading-edge dental technology like Dentrix and Eaglesoft.

 

So stop wasting your valuable time and resources handling tedious information technology issues in-house. Instead, let Zenith Dental IT become your full-service remote IT support provider. We will take the headache out of information technology so that you can keep your focus where it should be — on your patients.

 

To get started, book a free consultation with one of our experts.

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Sep 7, 2022

Should You Hire Remote IT Support for Your Dental Practice?

Sarah Harris | Sep 7, 2022 | 7 min read
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Automation and technology have proven their worth across every industry and vertical. The benefits are clear for larger businesses and world-spanning enterprises, but those benefits have started to trickle down to local practices and smaller groups as well.

To gain the benefits of modern technology, providers must adapt and expand, but the benefits of tech come with a steep learning curve that not every practice has the time or monetary budget to reach.

So the answer to the question is a firm “yes.” Remote dental IT support provides a way for smaller and medium-sized offices to take advantage of everything modern tech can offer them without the enormous investment in time and knowledge. Local dental IT support just can’t keep up, as much as a small team might try.

A remote IT support service divides and conquers. It keeps local IT within their sphere of control — the hardware and software within the office — and handles larger-scale upgrades and maintenance that takes your practice to the next level.

The benefits are many. In most cases, tech and IT dental service organizations (DSOs) provide a way to streamline, combine, and automate business processes your practice already uses multiple times a day, every day, into a single suite of programs managed by practice management software (PMS).

Security and Compliance

HIPAA remains as strict as ever, with high fines for negligence and higher fines for intentional violations. A smaller practice can’t hope to meet these fines, and we need to remember that HIPAA applies to dentistry just as much as it does to other healthcare providers (HCPs).

Even though we think about general practitioners and hospitals when we discuss HIPAA, it binds all HCPs, and that’s important to remember. HCPs must provide adequate security and adhere to best practices (like not emailing customer information on an unsecured line) to maintain HIPAA compliance.

A remote IT support service that specializes in dental services can audit your practice and your policies to plug any leaks before they harm your customers, your reputation, and your bottom line.


provide adequate security and adhere to best practice

Customer Relationships and Marketing

IT support for dental practices does more than handle the boring back-end security. Computers and automation might seem to operate opposite to the human element, but in reality, programs and services managed by digital IT support make it easier to connect with your patients than ever before.

Combined, Specialized Systems

These programs and services make this human connection possible by combining systems and functions under one umbrella, then taking advantage of automation and integration between multiple services and software suites.

This combination cuts down on redundant data entry (where human users must enter the same information, like customer contact information, multiple times — sometimes without the benefits of copy-and-paste functions). Management like this saves you time by making programs talk to one another on the back end.

Appointments, Cancellations, and No-Shows

As an example, a digital IT service can help you combine and automate interactions between your appointment calendars and customer contact information. With the right settings, it can automatically update customers when they make appointments or when the time comes for the next checkup or cleaning. It can send reminders by email or text.

The right automation means your front desk staff no longer need to work for hours on mundane copy-paste emails to each customer or risk mistaken notifications that double-book patients.

Dental IT not only makes such a thing possible, but it also ensures constant uptime for your systems, so you never miss a patient. Unlike your local IT team, many providers stay open 24/7.

Digital Records

A great system managed by an external provider can do much more than assign customer appointment dates to individual profiles. It can handle everything from charts and forms to medical records and billing information, which makes information recall a snap whenever needed.

The right service can make clicking through multiple windows to accomplish anything related to a customer a thing of the past. Instead, it creates a unified picture of each patient’s entire journey with your practice, from their first appointment and records of every procedure to complete x-rays and scans.

This combination might sound like a security risk, and for generic IT providers, it is. But dental-specialized IT services are the same groups that provide the security you need for your local IT, like email and onsite records, and are guaranteed to review their storage services with the same level of scrutiny.

Because many of these services operate on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, they make it easy to scale up as your practice gathers more clients. Rather than making big, risky investments in large hard drives and other storage devices that may or may not pay off, you can ramp up slowly as your patient count does.

Billing

Secure digital record-keeping benefits patients just as much as it does your staff. They have to spend less time entering their insurance and payment information when it’s stored on your server the first time, assigned to them, and pulled up automatically when they’re ready to leave.

Moving them out fast is great for everyone — most patients, once they finish their appointments, are ready to get outside and go about their day rather than linger in the office. A quick checkout ends their appointments on a positive note, and a positive ending increases the odds of a return visit.

Automated Marketing Analytics

These services also help you build your patient count. Automated marketing protocols make it easy to send out the right advertisements to the right patients and inform them of discounts, optional services, and other benefits they might not know about.

When you tell them about new options through text or email rather than in the office, you put the thought in their head early and give them much more time to consider their options.

It would take weeks or months for local dental IT support to set up a program like this, but remote providers with years of experience spread over many clients make it a snap.

This type of automated marketing integrates with the same customer contact information as your appointment-reminder service, which means front desk staff needs to enter information once, and no more.

These marketing services also access records of previous appointments to avoid advertising incorrect or redundant services — no longer will your patients receive information about a product or service that they just don’t care about or already use.

There’s no need to tell a patient who comes in for regular teeth cleaning about fluoride treatments — instead, the system can share the benefits of teeth whitening or proactive protection.

Convenience and Uptime

All these benefits sound wonderful — until they break down, and your entire practice goes with it. Thankfully, external providers are better than that. Most offer 24/7 service, and if you encounter an outage, they likely already know and are working to fix it as soon as possible.

When you employ an external IT service provider, you cut down on desperate early-morning phone calls to your local IT team and take the stress of crisis management out of their already-busy days.

On top of all that, a DSO’s experience covers many crises every single day. What might seem like an utter disaster to you is a part of their everyday routine, something they handle regularly — which means they can handle it fast with a cool head and practiced skill.

The Benefits of External Maintenance

External maintenance cuts down on the time your IT department needs to spend on updates after normal business hours to apply fixes once everyone else leaves the office. 24/7 service means updates can instead be handled at any time by people who signed on to work outside normal office hours, with a minimum of fuss and downtime.

On the off chance something does go wrong with your systems, a DSO’s on-call staff can help resolve problems right away no matter the hour or issue and may have more resources available if IT is occupied elsewhere — no more ticket queues or “one-at-a-time” problem-solving.

Future-Proofing

The right dental IT services build for more than just modern technology released now — they build for the future as well.

A larger firm has more eyes on developments and more expertise in the up-and-coming tech available to individual businesses, offices, and practices than dental IT has time for. It’s part of their job right alongside helping offices like yours.

Get a Quote to See If Zenith Is the Right Choice for Your Office

Dentistry is a lucrative field and provides a service that everyone needs. It comes as no surprise, then, that you have an overwhelming number of choices for your IT needs. Open Dental, Dentrix, Eaglesoft, and more are all out there, and all of them seem like excellent choices — choices that are hard to tell apart.

Of course, we’re biased and believe that we’re the best choice. More importantly, though, we’re willing to put our money where our mouth is and prove it.

Contact Zenith Dental IT today for a free quote, so we can discuss your dental IT needs — and how our team of experts can meet them while bringing you everything discussed here and far, far more.

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Sep 4, 2022

The Benefits of Specialized IT Support for Dentists

Sarah Harris | Sep 4, 2022 | 7 min read
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Any dental practice in the 21st century that wants to be successful needs top-tier dental IT support. From email to imaging, the double-edged sword of connectivity and technology means that if you want to reach people easily, you’re going to be easily reachable — even for the bad guys.

That’s where dedicated, specialized dental IT comes in. Dentistry is a profession that requires intimate knowledge of the business’ inner workings. Any old IT service provider simply won’t do in this industry, which is why Zenith Dental IT exists. Specialization matters.

Dentistry and Technology Can Mean Vulnerability

Did you know that email is one of the primary ways attackers gain access to your data? And did you know that peripherals like printers and scanners — if they’re connected to WiFi — are also one of the weak links in your practice’s IT security?

Email can be an access point for malware, phishing, spoofing, and even attacks from your competitors. Printers with web access store sensitive documents in their queues and are sometimes overlooked as security risks, even by IT professionals.

It’s extremely important that you know where you’re vulnerable and that you continuously scan for potential threats. Zenith Dental IT does all that for you and more.

Dental IT Support

From private practices to the largest DSOs in the nation, Zenith Dental IT is trusted to provide expert IT services that are custom-designed for the dental industry. Our service is:

  • Comprehensive
  • Affordable
  • Guaranteed

We’re experts in network analysis, cloud backups, and managed IT support. Our average success rate in resolving IT issues within the requested timeframe is 99.9%, and we don’t stop there.

At Zenith Dental IT, we charge one flat rate for IT support, and you can go month to month — no contracts! Your practice will receive unlimited, world-class IT support seven days a week at one of the lowest prices in the country. We even offer remote support.

Additionally, we guarantee that we can resolve your issue within 24 hours with a superior suite of IT solutions, the best engineers in the world, and optimized customer support.

HIPAA Compliance

Compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a major hurdle for any dental practice. Your practice’s data governance policy must ensure that you protect every piece of data you touch.

You are obligated to share it with other practices as the law requires, yet you are also obligated to keep it secure. That’s a decently long and perilous tightrope to walk. We know how to properly handle sensitive patient data in full HIPAA compliance. Protected health information (PHI) must be protected in three ways:

  • Physical security measures
  • Network security measures
  • Process security measures

Any individual, partnership, or corporation that provides treatment, processes healthcare payments, or engages in healthcare operations must fulfill the law, and that means anyone and everyone who accesses or records patient data or provides the treatment.

You don’t want just any IT company to handle your practice’s technology security. Zenith Dental IT has been in the industry for over 15 years, so we understand all of the ins and outs.

We begin by auditing your current system and policies (including data governance). Then we create a strategy and a plan that addresses your HIPAA compliance issues, and we engineer a system that’s fully compliant, capable, and secure.

Cloud Backups

If you’ve ever experienced a data breach, whether personally or professionally, then you know how invasive it is. In dentistry, it’s not just personal — you’re on the hook for the data integrity and personal privacy of every patient in your database.

When the worst happens, and your system goes down, either from an attack or just because of a hardware or software failure, you’re going to want the peace of mind that comes from knowing everything you digitally need is backed up securely off-site. That’s what cloud backups do for you, and that’s why these backups are one of our specialties.

Our cloud-based server allows you to move your practice management software (PMS)  and imaging systems to the cloud. That offers better long-term reliability and security, plus you can access your practice’s data from anywhere in the world with an internet connection, 24/7.

On top of all that, our cloud-based solutions easily scale with you. When you only use what you need, you save time and money.

Dental IT Solutions

We can engineer your practice’s cloud backup requirements and more. Whether it’s data security, securing email vulnerabilities, a workable anti-virus strategy, or automation, we understand how to implement the latest security technologies.

What’s more, we fully understand and support the PMS of your choice, including solutions like Open Dental, Dentrix, Eaglesoft, and more.

Data Security

Keeping your data secure is our top priority. And that doesn’t just mean your patients’ records, imaging, and invoices but your practice’s proprietary data too. We employ the best dental IT experts who understand the industry and its unique features.

Hosted Email Encryption

The last thing you want is for your patients to fall victim to a phishing scam perpetrated through your practice’s emails. We have a robust mail server security application that secures the mail client, the transmission, and the operating environment so that you can do what you do best — serving your patients with excellence.

Since email is one of the main ways hackers try to steal confidential information, it’s important that you do all you can to prevent catastrophe.

We strongly recommend that our clients invest in our email encryption services. Our team can install an integrated, secure email gateway and implement automated encryption, giving you an additional fortification in your security plan.

Anti-Virus Strategies

Zenith Dental IT’s automated Anti-Virus is proprietary software that continuously scans every workstation, server, and peripheral — always in the background.

Its job is to detect and prevent the spread of harmful malware, and to do that, it constantly monitors all of your directories, even specific file types, that could potentially contain malicious software like Trojan horses and viruses.

Remote Access

Perhaps one of the best-loved features of Zenith Dental IT’s full-service suite of dental IT solutions is the fact that we offer remote access. Since all of your data is in the cloud, you can access whatever you need whenever you need it.

Best of all, it’s completely off-site, secure, and a perfect carbon copy of everything, so if your local hardware or software goes down, you won’t lose a thing.

Zenith Dental IT: Expert Partners for Dental Startups

Working with Zenith Dental IT is like having your own local dental IT support staff. We especially love working with local private dentistry practices. Our process begins with a free consultation and moves through three phases:

  • IT floor plan
  • Detailed statement of work (SOW)
  • Implementation

The free consultation is with you, the practice owner, and your advisors. Its purpose is to allow everyone to talk through any questions about specific technologies and what may be recommended or required for your particular situation.

We ensure that we discuss your vision so that we can get a feel for how you’d like to do things. Only then can we begin to draw out your strategic roadmap and present a solution.

Once your initial consultation is completed, we create what we call your “IT floor plan,” which is the basic layout or architecture of your proposed custom IT solution system. This floor plan includes two main items:

  • A detailed plan of your system and its components that will guide implementation
  • A data governance plan that will control how interactions between hardware and software systems adapt over time

After this is completed and presented, we work with you to perform due diligence on the feasibility of the proposal, helping you with decisions about hardware and other details so that the proposal is completely synced up with the real world.

Only then can we generate a detailed checklist for each and every item and present you with the SOW, which is what we’ll all use through implementation to ensure the project of installing the system is going to plan.

Implementation is the final phase, and it’s where we build out the system, both on the ground and in the cloud. We initialize, debug, double-check, and generally ensure that your dental IT solution will work well once you throw open the doors to your valued patients.

Dr. Anthony Escobar

Solis Dental

Specialized IT Support for Dentists

Your dental practice needs to be competitive, protected, and fully compliant today. In a world where everything is digitally connected, now more than ever, it is absolutely essential that you implement a workable IT strategy that protects both your practice and your patients for the 21st century and beyond.

Success demands rockstar dental IT Support. Whether you’re a hometown, local, independent practice, or a large DSO, you need a dentistry IT solution that performs at scale, and Zenith Dental IT has got you covered.

Don’t consult with just any old generic, one-size-fits-all IT company. We’re the dedicated specialists in dental IT, and it matters who you trust in this business. Get a quote from Zenith Dental IT today.

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Aug 31, 2022

How to Protect Your Dental Office from Cyber Threats in 2022

Sarah Harris | Aug 31, 2022 | 7 min read
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Cyberattacks and other threats have never been more prevalent than they are today. They target all kinds of organizations and individuals, including dental practices.

Keeping your dental practice and its systems and data safe is absolutely essential. You need to ensure that your patient information stays private to maintain HIPAA compliance and uphold your practice’s reputation.

There are many different ways that a dental practice can go about improving its security against cyber threats. Here are some key areas you should focus on to protect your dental practice:

Recognize the Danger Your Practice Faces

One of the most important steps that any dental practice can take to protect itself from cyber threats is to realize just how serious the danger is. While you might think dentistry isn’t a major target for hackers and other malevolent third parties, you’d be wrong.

Your dental practice could give hackers access to a rich source of confidential information. That includes sensitive medical information, identifying information that can be used in identity theft, and even financial and payment information.

The danger of this data is real and present, and you can’t afford to go without proper protection. Securing your practice with the right dental IT solution could be the decision that saves you from financial and legal disaster.

Make a Move to On-Cloud Servers

On-site servers are a potential vulnerability for dental practices. Many still rely on on-site physical servers and local support to handle their important data and systems. However, this type of setup is among the most vulnerable.

By making the change to cloud-based dental IT support, you can significantly reduce your risk. The organizations offering these services put the best industry practices in place to keep your data safe and your confidential information protected. By contracting with them, you will demonstrate your desire for HIPAA-level safety compliance.

Not only will you be safer, but you’ll also enjoy better access to support and more robust service. You can even save money compared to local dental IT support.

Keep Your Systems Up to Date

Many of the most serious attacks against dental practices and other organizations that handle sensitive data are made possible by out-of-date software and hardware. Hackers continuously evolve their methods and have become increasingly sophisticated.

The only way to keep ahead of their cyberattacks is to keep all of your systems and software properly updated. If you rely on multiple solutions to handle your practice management software (PMS), servers, and other systems, you could be out of date without even realizing it.

Moving to a dedicated IT support provider can streamline this process. They can ensure that all of your software is properly updated with the latest protections against ever more complex cyberattacks.

Train Your Staff on Information Security

There are many different ways that third parties can try to access your sensitive information, and most of them focus on the human element. While regular updates can keep software secure, there’s always a risk that you and your staff can accidentally provide access to another party.

To ensure that this doesn’t happen, you should provide regular training for your staff on cyber attack awareness and prevention. The most common tactics in this area are often centered around phishing and impersonation. A third party will pretend to be a patient, vendor, or technical support agent to gain access to sensitive information.

If you use a dedicated dental IT support provider, you can avoid some of these threats by consolidating all of your IT services into one delegated authority. That way, there is less risk of your staff divulging information to someone impersonating support because you have a single, easy-to-verify source of contact.

Get Support When You Need It

When something goes wrong with your IT systems, it could present a potential opportunity for a cyber attack. In some cases, the issues you’re experiencing could be signs that a cyber attack is currently ongoing.

To ensure that your dental practice is properly protected, you need access to IT support as soon as something goes wrong. If you’re with a local support provider, they might not have the scale to provide on-demand support for your specific issue.

By going with managed dental IT support, you’ll have 24/7 access to technical support for all of your needs. Not only is support available whenever you need it, but by working with a larger team specifically focused on dental IT, you’ll ensure you have access to the specific expertise and experience you need to resolve any issue.

Make Use of Professional Vulnerability Assessments

The issue with cyberattack vulnerabilities is that you need to know about them before you can take action to mitigate them. However, these vulnerabilities are often difficult to spot, highly technical, and often only apparent after an attack.

By undergoing a professional vulnerability assessment with an experienced dental IT firm, you’ll be able to get out ahead of cyberattacks. A professional assessment will cover all areas of your IT needs, including your network security, anti-virus, updates, router security, and staff education.

The report you get from your vulnerability assessment can help you make effective choices to protect your dental practice from cyberattacks. A little preventative safety could save you from a major disaster in the future.

Make Your Communications More Secure

Communications are a prime candidate for hackers to target with cyberattacks. They can contain significant amounts of sensitive information and are often easier to access than servers and other systems.

However, you can proactively protect your email communications by implementing hosted email encryption. This method improves safety by using a secure email gateway that can keep your communications from being intercepted.

This technology is easy to use but is often difficult to set up. You can ensure you get the email encryption configuration you need by hiring trusted professionals to handle the implantation. When choosing dental IT professionals for your hosted email encryption, you can rest easy knowing that your emails are secure.

Always Have a Backup

If you have on-site servers with no backup, you’re running an incredible risk. Hardware failure isn’t a matter of if — it’s a matter of when. All hardware eventually fails, and if your servers fail without a backup, you can lose important data and records that your practice relies on.

Even if you use software like Open Dental, Eaglesoft, or Dentrix to manage your practice, significant amounts of crucial data are still stored on your physical servers. You need regular backups to prevent data loss in the case of hardware failure.

An off-site cloud backup is one of the best ways to do this. Physical backups require you to purchase and maintain additional storage hardware. A cloud backup can carry out regular backups using automation, so you don’t even have to think about the backup process anymore.

Get the Right Antivirus Software

Your anti-virus software is an essential part of your plan for staying safe from cyberattacks. Today, anti-virus software does a lot more than just stop suspicious programs. You might not realize just how much your antivirus software keeps you safe from threats every day.

However, you need to ensure that you have the right software for your needs. Not all software is made with HIPAA and other data confidentiality regulations in mind. Dental practices require a higher protection standard than most other businesses and individuals.

If you entrust your dental IT support to a dedicated support provider, it can ensure that you have the appropriate antivirus software. It will also ensure that the software is up to date at all times so that you stay fully protected.

Make Sure Your Remote Access Is Secure

Are you checking emails from home or even working completely remotely on some occasions? If so, you need to ensure that you have a secure remote access system. Simply logging in from a laptop isn’t enough to ensure both endpoint and network security.

With the right remote access solution, you’ll be able to securely access important information and systems from anywhere. The straightforward process for accessing these systems will keep important data secure without interfering with your workflows.

Remote access can be incorporated into your overall dental IT support services. That way, you can ensure that all of your solutions work together properly and that unexpected integration issues aren’t causing any security vulnerabilities.

Let the Professionals Keep Your Practice Safe

When it comes to finding the right solution to protect your dental practice against cyberattacks, you should choose an organization that can provide for all of your needs.

Zenith Dental IT is just that organization. We provide top-of-the-line dental IT support and services for a wide range of independent practices and some of the largest DSOs around.

Our solutions can ensure that your practice is secure with the best practices in cloud-based servers and networking, anti-virus software, vulnerability assessments, and hosted email encryption. We’re always available 24/7 to provide for all of your IT support needs.

If you require a custom solution that accounts for your dental practice’s unique security and IT posture, reach out to Zenith Dental IT today to discuss your options.

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Aug 28, 2022

6 Reasons Why Your Dental Practice Must Have Email Encryption

Sarah Harris | Aug 28, 2022 | 7 min read
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Encryption might seem like an expensive step, especially for smaller, local practices confined to a single office. It might also seem unnecessary — why go to the trouble of encryption for a dental office when encryption services cater to big banks, financial companies, and hospitals?

The answer is simple: modern technology makes it easier and cheaper to do, and the same advances in technology make it more necessary than ever. Cybercriminals take advantage of the same advances in security technology you do when they try to breach your security.

Their new tactics put your patients’ Protected Health Information (PHI) and financial records at risk. If they can expose those records, they’ll put your dental practice at risk of liability.

Privacy regulations and security standards have risen in the last few years to face these threats. Encryption has gone from a “nice to have” to a necessity that no medical provider, large or small, can go without.

What Is Email Encryption?

Anyone who uses encryption and understands why it’s important must also have a basic picture in their head of how it works.

Email encryption disguises and conceals the contents of emails. Not just the body text, but any attached files, the sender and receiver data, and all other information within and about the email.

Encryption makes this protection possible because it adds an additional layer of authentication. Whether in the background or performed by a human, this extra protection keeps the contents of the email away from unauthorized users.

In other words, it makes sure that no one other than the intended recipient of the email can read the email and access its contents. Encryption helps protect its users everywhere they go but has special value for anyone who sends and receives information on a public, unsecured network.

Anyone can access such a network, interact with other devices on it, and intercept information like emails transmitted over it. Encryption ensures that hackers can’t breach emails they intercept or copy that have been sent over an open network.

Encryption doesn’t represent a single set of best practices or programs but a wide variety of options. Two of them include digital signatures and public key infrastructure.

Digital Signature

As the name implies, signature encryption services place a hidden digital signature in the emails that the receiver’s inbox knows matches yours.

This technique cuts down on spam and “spoof” emails that pretend to come from you but really came from someone else. When a receiver fails to notice the fake email address (often close to the real sender’s address) and opens an attachment or clicks a link, they can expose themselves and their system to all kinds of threats.

Digital signatures limit users’ exposure to those attacks with a form of automatic authentication that requires no additional input from the user and no technical expertise whatsoever. This service runs in the background, which leaves your employees free to operate the business as usual.

Public Key Infrastructure

Public key infrastructure combines a “public key” that everyone you want to send information to knows and a “private key” that only you know.

The private key decrypts the message into a readable format upon receipt, which is locked down with the public key. Despite the name “public key,” these keys reside in the network and never leave for the broader internet, so cyber criminals can’t locate and copy these keys to breach your emails.

6 Benefits of Email Encryption for Dental Practices

Now that you know how encryption works, it’s time to break down 6 ways it can help your dental practice in particular.

 

1. Reduces the Attack Surface for Your Practice Management Software
The most vital part of any modern dental IT suite is its practice management software (PMS). Odds are, this software is a valuable part of your practice’s everyday operations. From appointments to billing, it brings most if not all business functions together in a nice, simple suite.

This great strength is also a PMS’s biggest weakness. Because it collects a massive amount of information on your customers, their records, and their financial information like health insurance, credit cards, and bank accounts, a single breach blows your records wide open.

Because hackers know this, your PMS makes for a juicy target. Your PMS, which can include options like Open Dental, Eaglesoft, or Dentrix, may or may not properly encrypt emails. If it doesn’t, your practice is very vulnerable to attackers.

Even if it does, and you know exactly what types of encryption and other protections your office carries and how they work, a second layer of encryption protection never hurt anyone.

 

2. Protects Employees Outside Dental IT Teams
There’s no such thing as too much protection, thanks to the human element. “The human firewall” is the most important protection for any digital security surface because people are the weakest link. All of the technology in the world doesn’t help if phishing email tricks a user into a password breach which turns into a full-blown data leak.

Spammers and attempts at phishing (the use of convincing — but fake — email messages to trick employees and convince them to surrender their usernames and passwords to bad actors rather than IT staff) are much harder to block on an unencrypted network.

Email encryption can stop these attacks in their tracks, catch dangerous emails in filters, and keep them away from your staff’s eyes.

While local dental IT support should still encourage caution and keep staff up-to-date and educated on the risks and how to avoid them, an encryption protocol reduces the number of initial exposures and therefore decreases the odds that something will go wrong.

 

3. Gets Easier (and Cheaper) through Automation
Technology marches on, and even though hackers are getting more sophisticated, the less-competent cybercriminals haven’t gone anywhere. Encryption keeps said criminals away from your practice.

These advancements also mean that encryption has become cheaper — it’s no longer the budget drain as it used to be. This price decrease is a huge benefit for smaller practices and offices on a budget.

It’s easier than ever before to afford protection plans and data benefits that used to lie far out of reach. Large security providers are much better at keeping up with the criminals than decentralized, individual offices.

 

4. Complies with Relevant Privacy Standards
Laws like HIPAA have strict rules regarding the transfer and use of PHI. These regulations place significant responsibility on the shoulders of health service providers.

While hospitals and general practitioners jump to mind when most people discuss HIPAA, HIPAA applies to all healthcare providers. Just like ophthalmologists and other specialists, dentists provide a form of healthcare and must follow the same HIPAA regulations.

An unsecured transfer or an email breached by a cybercriminal or hacker that contains protected health information is considered to be a HIPAA violation. The Office of Civil Rights punishes these violations with substantial fines, which it levies for each breach.

Failure to close security loopholes on time can shift the classification of the violation from unintentional to intentional. The fines for intentional breaches, again levied for each infraction, can cripple a business.

There’s no dentist’s office that wants to pay the hefty fines for violations. Encryption helps to keep that from happening.

 

5. Hides in Plain Sight
No one could be blamed for thinking that encrypting only important emails is a great way to save time and resources. But everyone who uses an encryption service should have it encrypt all emails every time they’re sent.

Suppose your practice encrypts important emails that contain patient information and not regular, non-essential communication. In that case, criminals with an eye on your network know the encrypted email contains valuable information.

They make a beeline straight for it because they know they can steal information that they can use. Whether it’s customer information that they can use for fraud or PHI that they can sell, they know encrypted emails are worth the effort.

An encryption service for your dental office that encrypts every email, on the other hand, hides valuable, sensitive information amidst all of the noise. Hackers have no idea where to turn or which targets might add the most value.

Remember that criminals are smart, but they are also lazy. If they see a lot of data that they have to spend time and effort to crack with no guarantee of success, they will go elsewhere for a more probable payout.

 

6. Increases Convenience — Your Current DSO’s Services Might Already Include Encryption
DSOs, or dental support organizations, provide a variety of valuable non-clinical services to both new and veteran practices. When you start to look for encryption providers, reach out to your current DSO to see if they have options rather than beginning a new relationship with an unknown party.

Rather than seeing encryption as a hassle, dental practices can use it as a way to enhance their relationships with their existing partners and deepen the connection between two symbiotic business entities.

 

Get a Quote with Zenith Dental IT

Zenith Dental IT is one such group. We offer remote IT solutions specialized for dentists. With encryption and more, we add a valuable set of resources for HIPAA compliance and general solutions.

Visit our quote page, and find out just how we can help you out.

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