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    What a paperless practice really looks like

    How real dentists have gone paperless in their practices.

     

    “If you’re backed up in the cloud and the cloud crashes, everyone’s in trouble,” Dr. Hyman adds. “That’s why I think you should have a redundant backup.” He utilizes both an on-site and cloud backup.

    Read more: How to manage disaster recovery with data backups

    Because of the risk of a crash, some practices still rely on paper. While having digital files makes things run more efficiently, the risk of losing that data keeps many from fully committing. Those are the practices that keep paper files — just in case.

    “I don’t consider a backup a solution, I consider it a minimal effort because it’s about office continuity,” Dr. Jablow says. “In my office, we use DDS Rescue, a redundant server that takes a snapshot of the entire server — not just my data — 30 times a day. In effect, I’m not just backing up my patient data, I’m backing up the entire server. At the end of the day, that information is transferred online to multiple service centers to protect it. In the event that the server fails, the in-office redundant server can be switched over in about 10 minutes. In the event that the office is totally compromised in terms of fire or theft, the entire server can be virtualized online.”

    Dr. Jablow’s practice made it through Hurricane Sandy. Because his office was without power, he had to rely on virtual access to his data.

    While dentists fear a server failure or a cloud crash, physical damage to paper files is a very real possibility, so the only semi-secure option is to have multiple backups — which is why Dr. Watt’s decision to store data on a local server, in the cloud and in paper files isn’t as over-the-top as it may sound.

    “Many practices in the U.S. face a grave danger of a hurricane, tornado, flood, theft or hardware failure,” Dr. Hyman says. “You can lose your data and what a nightmare. I think it’s imperative for every practice to backup in the cloud.”

    The cloud is far from risk-free, however. Aside from the fear of a crash, there is also a fear of a breach.

    “We’ve got HIPAA to be concerned with, so you have to protect your data and make sure that your network is safe,” Dr. Flucke says. That’s why he suggests having an expert set it up for the practice. “I don’t do the security on my own network. No way.”

    Related article: The huge mistake that could cripple your dental practice

    Dr. Jablow agrees. “Having the right IT guy is critical,” he says. “It’s like going to the dentist. You have to trust the person and hope they know what they’re doing.”

    What about the cost?

    Having technology means signing up for constant updates and add-ons. That’s just the way of the digital world, so it’s something dentists should be prepared for, Dr. Jablow advises.

     “Everything now is an add-on,” he says. “I call it the monthly creep. Every month, I have services that cost me more and more money but are considered ‘essential,’ such as reminders, social media, backup, redundancy. All of these come with a price tag that never goes away, and they become critical parts of our office.”

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