The High Cost of Saving Money on Your Dental IT – Part 2
This is part 2 of a 4-part series on The High Cost of Managing Your Own Dental IT.
In our previous blog, we briefly examined the real cost to dental practices that try to manage their own IT or integrate technology through piecemeal and/or subpar standards. We looked at a break–down of just some of the components needed to ensure standard technology, security, and HIPAA compliance for a dental practice.
In this article, we’ll take a deeper dive into the following components to examine the potential financial and resource requirements of each:
- Secure offsite backup
- Managed antivirus service
- Ransomware protection
- An up-to-date firewall with intrusion prevention
There are a number of offsite backup providers more than willing to offer their services for what may initially seem like a reasonable fee depending on the amount of data needing backup. However, did you know the average dental provider has over 500GB of data that must be backed up? Did you know that data must be encrypted during transmission to the offsite facility? The data also must be encrypted while in the offsite storage facility.
Because encryption is now a requirement, the offsite providers’ less expensive plans are not an option for dental offices. Dental offices need to purchase a HIPAA-compliant backup package which includes a Business Associate Agreement, and the fees for these plans are fairly expensive.
Once an offsite backup plan that meets all the HIPAA requirements has been selected, someone actually has to set up these backups. This is not an easy task. One must:
- Install it everywhere back-up is needed
- Set the desired time for the backup to run and not slow down the practice’s daily production
- Log into the cloud controller and make sure it is not dumping the database every 30 days and starting over (seen it happen, not pretty)
- Make sure the antivirus software does not scan the offsite backup or accidentally prevent it from running (we will get to that later)
At this point, the dental practice has probably already invested a large portion of time getting their offsite backup solution set up, yet has only tackled the first requirement mentioned above.
Managed antivirus software
There are also a number of providers offering free antivirus software. However, did you know that, according to the Terms of Service, the free versions of antivirus generally are limited in their functionality and technically are not supposed to be utilized in professional environments? So, if your office is running free antivirus software, you might be subject to fines; and if your data is stolen, the free antivirus providers have no responsibility.
The dental practice trying to manage their own IT may decide to go with a paid antivirus protection service, and this may at first seem like a good solution. However, this means they’ll need to know how to put in exclusions for all its software to make sure the antivirus is not wasting time scanning primary, everyday used software like Dentrix, Open Dental, Dexis, etc. If the proper exclusions are not implemented the software will be significantly slower because they can’t run at their proper performance levels. Antiviruses without proper exclusions are known to cause communication issues between pan machines, sensors, and cameras too.
Keep in mind, too, that the systems must be managed. Let’s say the antivirus finds a problem. Gone are the days when they just quarantine the infection. Someone has to investigate and make sure that the infection didn’t actually spread to other areas where it could cause damage and/or create a security risk. Do you have someone on your staff with the time and expertise to accomplish this? The antivirus will also need to be updated every day to make sure it is covering all the new threats discovered in the days prior. This alone could be a full-time job.
There are increasingly frequent reports about a major government entity or school system getting their information held for ransom. It may appear they always work through it somehow. However, did you know most of those ransoms cost the entity days, weeks, or months to pay and get the data back, or not. Or, they have to restore from a bad backup (see where the good offsite backups come into play) that has only a fraction of the data actually in the cloud.
Plus, what about the identity protection fees that the office must now incur for every patient for the next few years? This can get expensive! Let’s not forget, there are also the fines by the federal government for negligence. This can seriously damage the financial health and reputation of the business.
Wouldn’t it be easier to rely on a reputable professional service that has the knowledge and expertise to implement ransomware protection and provide your practice with the assurance that your systems are protected properly?
Firewall with intrusion prevention
Your internet provider says it has a firewall in place. So, you may be asking, why would I need another one?
Here’s why: internet providers are very limited in the elements they block. This only makes sense for the internet provider. If a customer wants to view funny cat videos or play a video game in the office, the internet provider does not want to limit their customers’ viewing pleasure. Unfortunately, however, those ports left open for this lower standard of access can make it easier for negative components to enter your environment.
A managed firewall blocks certain elements from entering the dental office systems by only allowing access where needed. This will require someone to program the credit card ports to go to the correct banks, the phone traffic to go to the designated server, or the remote users to get appropriate access to the office through properly encrypted protocols.
Your dental office firewall is not a set it and forget it type of arrangement. There are new vulnerabilities discovered every day. If the firewall doesn’t have someone/something making sure it has the latest security and protection protocols, then your dental practice could be down and out for a day or more!
The Power of Knowledge
The purpose of bringing this information to light is not to scare you, but to empower you. Armed with this knowledge, dental practices can weigh their options and consider the costs, risks, and resource requirements when it comes to managing dental IT.
You have the power to protect your dental practice with up-to-date technology, fast and reliable service, and a budget-friendly plan when you partner with Digital Technology Partners. We manage all aspects of your dental technology, so you can focus on what you do best – providing excellent care to your patients.