These days, most businesses rely on vast amounts of data to operate effectively and efficiently. Dental practices are no exception. When data losses occur, it leaves dentists and their staff struggling to get caught up, negatively impacting the practice’s reputation and potentially incurring hefty fines.
Every dental office should take steps to protect data from accidental loss and unauthorized access. However, dental offices have more to worry about than the average business. Read on to find out what it takes to protect and back up vital data.
Before moving on to address backups and other protections against data loss, it’s best to start with a brief discussion of the importance of adequate data security. Because dentists are considered healthcare providers under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), data security is even more important than for the average business. It’s very important to protect sensitive information both in transit and at rest.
When determining how to back up data, practice owners must keep information security at the front of their minds. Not every data backup provider can provide adequate protection. Companies like Erickson Dental Technologies provide products and services made just for the dental industry, so they know how to protect against not just data losses but also unauthorized access.
Most dentists’ offices keep backups of the patient, employee, and practice data on-site. If the data is backed up incorrectly, though, it can cause issues with HIPAA compliance. It’s a good idea to keep local backups so that dentists and their staff can access essential data quickly following losses, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it.
Professional dental backup services can help clients set up on-site data storage solutions that ensure compliance with all relevant rules and regulations. Encrypting data and implementing safeguards to avoid unauthorized access are just a few of the essential steps that dentists need to take to protect their patients’ sensitive information.
Even if the office maintains backup files of all essential data on-site, experts agree that it’s still wise to maintain a second offsite backup at a secure data center. The reasoning behind this advice is simple. If a natural disaster, theft, or insider threat causes complete data losses within the office, all of that key information will still be stored elsewhere for easy retrieval. Just make sure the dental backup service entrusted with storing offsite backups uses a data center with a Tier III rating or above.
Creating a Backup Plan
Working with a dental backup service makes it much easier for practices to ensure that all of their sensitive data is protected against not just unauthorized access but also accidental losses. However, these third-party providers can’t do it all. Dentists and office staff also need to do their part by creating and following an effective backup policy that clarifies:
- Who performs the backups
- Where the backup data will be located
- How authorized personnel can access the files
- How often backups are performed
- What to do if data must be moved or the format must be changed
- How to Get Started
Whether a dental practice has no data backup plan in place or needs to update its existing policies, it’s worth taking the time to investigate third-party, HIPAA-compliant data backup services. These services can automate data backup, ensure information security, and provide access to Tier-III data centers, all while reducing busy work and hassles for office staff.