By Greg and Wayne Polakoff

Which software should you use for your dental practice, particularly when you are talking about creating documents, spreadsheets, and managing email communications? For years, Microsoft Office provided the standard for business communications software, with bundled services such as Word, Excel, Power Point and Outlook. In recent years, Google has rolled out its own version of business forms and communications software on Google Drive, as well as their own email service – Gmail. Is one form of business productivity software better than the other for a dental practice?

MS Office 365

We recommend that dentists use Microsoft’s Office 365 as a business communications software. Besides the fact that most office personnel are familiar with the business forms that Office provides, the new features of the package are perfect for medical staff that have to share information, keep calendars straight, and most importantly, secure medical records as they are being transported through email.

HIPAA Compliance

MS Office 365 uses Outlook to manage tasks, coordinate calendars, and to handle all email services. What you need to know is Office 365 is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) for health care environments. When you are sharing sensitive medical records via email, Outlook can be set up to send encrypted emails that confirm the identity of the receiver. This helps ensure that the only eyes that can access the attachment is the sender (the Dentist) and the receiver (the patient). HIPAA requires all medical records, which are transferred electronically, to be located on a secure server and encrypted during the transmission. Office 365 passes this test.

Office 365 offers you some flexibility in your subscription services. You can order it with or without the full package of MS Office. This is available for both PC and Mac formats. Either way, you will have access to the Office online apps. And since all upgrades happen in the cloud, you never have to worry about being out of HIPAA compliance with your software. This is a major perk of using cloud computing software.

As far as anti-virus protection goes, we recommend you use our premium protection to keep malware, spyware, and spam from reaching your system. This can be purchased for a very low monthly fee. Besides being mandated by HIPAA, it is just a good business practice in the days in which we are doing business.

Accessing your work remotely

Office 365 is a fully integrated cloud computing software. It is easy to share data and calendars for group collaboration. It does more than just manage your email and let you create documents. It really is a task management tool. It can be accessed anywhere and from any kind of computer device.

We recommend Office 365 for all of our dental clients. It is easy to use, but it also passes the HIPAA Compliance test. Don’t disregard this fact. The Department of Health and Human Services can fine dental offices up to $100,000 for being out of compliance with HIPAA. Office 365 helps you stay within these laws.

For more information on Office 365, contact us. We are certified Microsoft partners and would be happy to do a free audit of your computer systems to find out if you are within the HIPAA laws.

Greg and Wayne Polakoff are IT Consultants with NFC IT. They specialize in Dental Practice computer system security and compliance. Contact them at gpolakoff@nfcit.com or wpolakoff@nfcit.com