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Dental business continuation depends on the way you back up your system

By Greg and Wayne Polakoff

Imagine this scenario: you come to work and are getting ready to see patients. You turn on your computers like you always do. However, the booting up process seems to be taking longer than normal. Then you get a blank screen with an error message that tells you your system has failed! What do you do? Patients will be arriving shortly, but without their electronic records, you cannot see what procedures need to be done, what their dental history is, whether they have insurance, when you have available appointments… nothing!

Does your dental practice have a continuation plan in case your computer system fails? If not, there are some key procedures you should consider to ensure your business can continue seeing patients even if your server crashes. The truth is, how you back up your computer system is not only vital to your practice, it is a matter of federal law.

Hybrid Cloud Disaster Recovery
Hybrid cloud disaster recovery is a way to back up your system both on and off site. It is used as Best Practices in many business environments where information is critical to operations, such as medical records. It works like this: your system is backed up using your own local Speed Vault. Then this backup is synced to the cloud. This synchronizes two identical backups of your system. One is stored at your location and the other is stored in the cloud. This redundancy guards against the failure of one backup or other. If your local server crashes, you can restore your system from either your local fast storage or the cloud. Beyond the obvious insurance against server failure, hybrid cloud recovery is fast, so your downtime is minimal.

Continuous Recovery Systems
How often do you back up your system? Continuous Recovery automatically updates a standby system that ensures the most recent activity on your servers is saved. This is critical to a dental practice where patient scheduling is happening on an ongoing basis.

HIPAA Compliance
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) requires that all health records in dental offices be kept both private and secure. How you back up your computer systems is at the heart of this law. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has set standards that must be met by dental offices or they will face fines of up to $100,000. The encryption you use is key to HIPAA compliance.

HIPAA requires your backup to be encrypted with a format that only you can read. This guards against any hacking of medical records. We suggest using an AES 256-bit encryption. AES stands for Advanced Encryption Standard. It is a symmetric block cipher chosen by the U.S. government to protect classified and sensitive information. It is recognized by HHS as a solution to HIPAA security. HIPAA requires backups to be encrypted, local and tested.

Business Continuity
Backing up your system is smart business, but what happens if the hardware fails? We provide two services that are critical to keeping your practice running. First, we have a loaner program where we will provide equipment to you until you can replace or repair a damaged computer. It just takes a phone call and we will have the loaner delivered to you. Second, we can run your system entirely off site on any device that has access to the internet as long as you have a Continuous Recovery plan in place. So, let’s say the main computer at your front desk fries its motherboard, but you have a tablet computer available. We can help you access your entire system from the cloud backup. This can be done in a matter of minutes, so you don’t have any issues with clients waiting for you to get another computer set up.

How you back up your computer system is vital to your business continuation. Make sure you are not exposing your dental practice to a shut down, but also make sure you are doing so in compliance with federal laws.