Securing and Storing Dental Patient Data

As technology continues to evolve, options for data storage in your dental practice must be able to accommodate your critical needs for security, cost-effectiveness, user-friendliness, and HIPPA-compliance.

In the past, your options were strictly limited to local storage. While simple, it was also rather slow. Today, you have a range of different storage options available to you, including remote cloud storage. While the cloud allows you to access any file anywhere from any device, is it really the right option for your dental practice?

LOCAL vs. CLOUD STORAGE

With local storage, you have quick access to your information, because local storage devices are often connected directly to your computer. Since local storage drives don’t require a network connection, your data is safer. You control who has access to your data, and it can only be accessed from the devices of your choosing.

While local storage limits accessibility, which can help prevent data leaks and security threats, your data is also more vulnerable in terms of the possible theft of the device where all your files are stored. And with the mobile device trend becoming more popular, dental practices want to have the option to share information between clinicians across those devices.

The limitations of local storage led to the birth of the cloud. One of its greatest strengths is that you can access data on a number of devices regardless of your physical location. If one device is lost or compromised, your data remains safe elsewhere. Some cloud storage providers allow you to choose and pay for the specific amount of storage that your particular dental practice requires.

A great concern with cloud storage, however, is that hackers can easily break into the network your cloud storage is connected to, opening the door for viruses and malware that can spread rapidly across all devices.

NAS STORAGE

NAS (Network Attached Storage) gives you the benefits of both local hard drive and cloud storage. An NAS system includes a processor, memory, and space for local hard drive storage, which is connected to a local network that can be accessed from a number of devices, including mobile devices.

NAS technology has been steadily gaining popularity for over 20 years as a convenient method of sharing files between multiple computers due to simple configuration, easier administration, and faster data access.

Patient data and x-rays are two important applications to consider when deciding what type of data storage in your dental practice will be the most practical solution. Mobile device access including laptops, tablets, smartphones, and digital cameras are part of the protocol as well. Transferring your dental records to a NAS electronic platform allows for easier access to information and faster communication between dental clinicians. 

By using your mobile devices to share patient information with colleagues, you will save a great deal of time in terms of consultation. In turn, office staff who are employed as billers, coders, or transcriptionists will have the option to work from home, lowering your overhead. Being able to capitalize on this mobility does not come without additional risk, however.

Unfortunately, your mobile devices rarely meet the strict criteria for HIPPA compliance, and the last thing you want to do is trade convenience and efficiency for possible HIPPA violations. Since all patient information is fiercely protected by federal law, data storage in your dental practice has to meet all current requirements. This can be a rather daunting responsibility, especially since these requirements are always subject to change.

Hackers spend their days trying to find a way into your patient’s confidential information. It is a very lucrative business for them, selling patient records for an average of $50 a piece. Criminal access to your patients’ social security numbers can cause irreparable harm to them, and it all comes back to you. A dental office whose security is breached does not bode well for keeping patients or retaining new ones.

Choosing an NAS provider lifts that burden and allows you to redirect your focus to the most important aspect of your practice: patient care. It is the NAS provider’s job to understand your precise storage needs and recommend the best data storage solution for your practice.

Having an NAS system in place gives you peace of mind by employing a variety of safeguards including:

  • Device registration
  • Secure WI-Fi
  • Firewall installation
  • User ID
  • Strong passwords
  • Encryption
  • Automatic log off
  • Device locking
  • Remote wipe capability

NAS STORAGE WITH CLOUD ARCHIVING

The concept of archiving is a simple one: To preserve your legal, regulatory data and to slow the growth of data on your primary storage. However, you have already bought and paid for its current storage, so it wouldn’t be very cost effective for you to buy an archive storage system as well. A better practice is to buy just the amount that you need.

Enter the cloud. Because cloud storage can be bought by terabyte, you are free to buy just what you need. SimplyNAS can provide your dental practice with QNAPCloud, a private, secure, and affordable cloud storage option. Your archived files can be retrieved from any location, shared safely, and be protected from hard drive failure or disaster.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Your NAS provider should be just as passionate about their work as you are about yours. A trustworthy provider will take the time to get to know you, your practice, and your specific storage needs.

In addition to QNAP, they should be knowledgeable in the latest NAS technology, such as Accusys and Synology. As your storage needs increase, they should be prepared to grow with you by being able to provide a variety of choices of expansion units when you need them.

Before shipping out your new storage system, your provider should test the hardware, firmware, and any installed hardware before they are actually put to use. If you need any type of assistance down the line, their customer service team should be highly trained and have a willingness to help you.

NASBIT TESTING

At SimplyNAS, they use Network Attached Storage Burn-in Testing, NASBIT, which is a licensed trademark of the company. For the first 24 to 48 hours after they receive your order, they will run NASBIT, which stress tests your new system to make sure it is operating smoothly. At any point during this testing a NAS system it doesn’t meet their high standards, it is returned to the vendor, and the process begins all over again.

It is imperative that this precaution is taken because once a NAS system is deployed, you cannot test it with the same precision and detail.

The strict protocols we have at SimplyNAS are in place in order to ensure you, our valued customer, the most seamless transition possible. Having spent over ten years focusing exclusively on NAS data storage, we have gained valuable experience that we combine with our commitment to accommodate your specific data storage needs.

 

 

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