Consider the following before you jump ahead and invest in technology.
Applications: Rank the software applications you need for your practice in their order of priority and also list the system requirements for each application. This will give you an idea of what computers, servers and networking gear you need to support them.
In-house or cloud based: For each of the applications see if there is a cloud based option available. Compare the pros and cons of going cloud based versus owning your own hardware. Criteria that need to be evaluated include data security, upfront costs, operational or maintenance costs, cost of new updates and features, service and support costs, scalability of the solution etc. Research different vendors and compare their offerings.
Networking-wired, wireless or both: You do not want your office and operatories to be cluttered with cables hanging from the ceilings. If concealing networking cables in the facility is going to be expensive, then consider Wi-Fi as an option. Investing in business class routers with advanced security can help connect different computers in your office wirelessly. It also allows your staff to use tablets for tasks such as patient checks, collecting copays or showing pictures, videos and animations of dental procedures. Additionally, business class routers also allow you to set up a guest Wi-Fi network that is separate from your office network. Patients can use it while waiting for their appointment.
Backup and disaster recovery (BDR): Practice data should be regularly backed up both locally as well as online. Cloud based BDR solutions not only backup your data but can also maintain an image of your computing environment including operating systems as well as applications. This allows you to run your applications in the cloud during emergencies when you can’t access your facility or your office server is damaged and needs replacement.
HIPAA regulations and Massachusetts state law mandate that all patient data stored or transmitted electronically must be secured and protected from unauthorized access. Hence all dental practices need to place an increased emphasis on data security. I strongly recommend encrypting all your data.
Starting a new practice/ buying an existing one or even relocating is a great opportunity to evaluate your information technology needs for the future. Having a good technology foundation allows you to structure your practice for maximum productivity and success.