How Cloud Storage Can Help Your Dental Practice

Every day, dental clinics across Canada handle a lot of sensitive information. Between patient scheduling, clinical records, financial information, payroll, and co-ordination with other healthcare and insurance providers, dentists and dental hygienists need to know where to find the information they’re looking for at a moment’s notice.  

This means information storage can be a major issue. As anyone who works in a dental clinic knows, the days of keeping patient files in manila folders is long gone for most – but just because clinics use computers now doesn’t mean the storage question has gone away.

As a solution, many clinics have started to backup their practice data in the Cloud. But some practices have told me that they have doubts about the Cloud’s safety. In addition, simply backing up data in the cloud is only part of the solution and thus only mitigates part of the risk. If the data you access everyday to run your practice still resides on a local server, you remain highly vulnerable to cyberattacks. To help, I’ve prepared this brief explanation of how the Cloud works and why using a Cloud server is the more secure option for accessing and backing up your dental practice data.  

What is the Cloud, Anyway?

Cloud computing has been around since the 1960s but it’s only in recent years that Cloud computing and Cloud storage have become widely available. This shift happened when companies like Amazon and Google started marketing Cloud storage services to businesses and the public. 

When you store your live data in the Cloud it’s possible to access your documents, files or records from most devices, making it much easier to transfer and locate information of all kinds. Here’s a video explaining how this works:

Chances are, you already use  Cloud services a lot more than you think – your last Netflix bingeing session of Stranger Things wouldn’t be possible without this technology. But some dental practice owners are still reluctant to access their records from the Cloud and store backups there because they worry that the Cloud is less secure than storing information on their own computers. But are these concerns actually warranted?

Is the Cloud Safe?

The short answer to this question is yes – not only is the Cloud safe, but it actually offers more security than other storage methods.

When you store all of your data on-site, there are a number of risks. Because your data is literally being stored on hard drives in your office, all someone needs to do is remove the hard drives and all the information stored on them will be lost. Even if you have kept a backup of your data on a separate storage medium, it will only be as up to date as the last time you did a backup. Furthermore, you have no way of knowing if your backup is valid. As a result, on-site data storage represents a huge vulnerability for any dental practice.

On-site storage also exposes your data to potential accidents or natural disasters. For example, with offices that experience floods or fires, there is a very real possibility that many years’ worth of information will be lost – particularly if backups are store on-site as well. The old adage about not putting all your eggs in one basket definitely applies here.

Will Cloud Storage Affect How My Dental Practice Accesses Files?

Yes and no. When you use cloud software to store your information, you are taking an important step toward preventive theft and loss of data. But this doesn’t mean it will be more difficult to access.

In fact, the right cloud solutions are designed specifically to help dental practices manage their information more efficiently. Not only do cloud server solutions store client information more securely, coupled with data encryption, they enable integrated automated patient communication solutions. These provide a safe and efficient means of information exchange between the practice and patients via email and text – particularly for appointment reminders and confirmation.     

Another advantage of Cloud computing is convenience: because data is stored in the Cloud rather than on local hard drives, your team members can access information from anywhere, on almost any device. And should there be a data security breach, access devices are not affected. If your workstations are damaged in a natural disaster or fire, all your information is already safely backed up remotely in the Cloud.

For these reasons, cloud-based practice management software is rapidly becoming the platform of choice for dental practices. 

Don’t take any chances with your patients’ data; consider switching over to a cloud server solution specifically designed for use by dental practices. If you decide to stay with a local server solution for data storage, at the very least, make sure your practice date is regularly backed up in the cloud. 

Can A Visit To Your Dental Office Be Harmful To Your Health?

Guest Post by Dave Rajczak –

Whether you work in an auto body shop or a dental office, as a result of daily operations you are continuously exposed to various levels of bio-aerosols and other toxins. However, within a body shop, the customer is not usually part of daily operations and remains separate from the production environment and hazardous materials.

The dental office is unique in that both the dental team and their patients share the same air and are exposed to the same hazardous materials during service hours.

Dental offices in fact have the potential to be more polluted than most industries because they have high traffic areas that produce bio-aerosols (containing bacteria and viruses) resulting from dental procedures and the constant cleaning and disinfection of surfaces and dental instruments. It has become clear with more research over the years that untreated, these contaminants are absorbed into the bloodstream and have systemic effects on humans such as increased risk of infectious disease transfer, breathing difficulty including asthma, decreased lung function and heart problems.

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Aside from the health aspects, from a legal perspective, the Occupational Health and Safety Act stipulates that all employers including dentists have a general duty to protect workers (and in this case also patients) by providing adequate ventilation and replacement air free from contamination.

How does one know if an air quality problem exists?

Most potentially harmful particulates cannot be seen by the naked eye and therefore it is difficult to know their level of presence and corresponding risk to health. It is perhaps helpful to use a simple analogy and think of the work environment as a swimming pool. If the swimming pool turns green we automatically know it is likely unhealthy to swim in it and for health and aesthetic reasons we sanitize the water and run it through a filtration system until it is clear. Although we can never completely rid the water of every single contaminant due the constant addition of new agents, with continuous filtration we know that the water will be safe and pleasing to swim in.

Measuring a working environment for potentially harmful toxin levels

By using a Particle Counter device (example) that takes in a specific sized sample of air and counts the number of particles of various sizes we can “see” the quality of the air and compare it to the acceptable levels determined for the intended use of the room or environment.

For levels that are deemed unusually high, the simple and most practical solution is a medical grade air cleaner (example) that will remove the vast majority of dangerous particulate matter from the air. This breaks the cycle of airborne disease transmission, which may lead to infection and/or other symptoms previously mentioned.

Tangible benefits of cleaning the air

Practices that have implemented air purification systems reported reduced staff absenteeism and improved performance. By installing such systems in their offices, practice owners are not only complying with the law – their staff and patients also notice the cleaner air.

An investment in a safe and healthy environment will help protect everyone that enters your office and may even influence patients to refer their family and friends!