As a dental care provider, storing information about your patients in a secure way is an essential part of your practice. Whether you’re handling a patient’s checkup history, communications, X-rays, or other active or inactive records, electronic storage is the optimal way to ensure compliance, easy of use, flexibility, and affordability. NAS, or network-attached storage, offers all these capabilities as well as other impressive features. Once you start using NAS as your office, you’ll wonder how you ever did things the old way.
What Is a NAS?
Network-attached storage refers to a type of hard disk storage appliance. They are essentially computers specifically designed to provide a large volume of digital storage space that can be accessed by a group of network users simultaneously. In dental practices, they can be used to securely store text documents, database records, photographs, X-Rays, sound files, videos, and almost any other type of dental record. One or more hard drives can be used in NAS, and they are usually setup in a RAID configuration. These logical and redundant storage containers offer a central storage location while providing protection against data loss and corruption.
Many dental offices are apprehensive about using electronic storage for their records because of HIPAA compliance, but the truth is that keeping information secure on a NAS is a lot easier than you might think. The HIPAA Security Rule, which has been in effect since 2005, requires that dentists who store information in electronic form, often referred to as ePHI, maintain its:
- Confidentiality – With a NAS, you have the ability to control who sees what information stored on your system. Centralized administrative capabilities allow you to make access changes whenever required.
- Integrity – A NAS uses redundancy to safeguard against data corruption. RAID protects against drive failure. Mirroring takes care of entire shelf failure, and redundant peer controllers provide data backup capabilities.
- Accessibility – With a NAS setup, data is continually available to anyone who needs to retrieve it. The fault tolerance for many NAS devices is reliable enough for many government institutions.
While there is no such thing as an officially certified HIPPA compliant NAS device, finding a product that provides all of these features is possible with just a bit of seraching. There are a wide range of NAS products out available online designed to handle very sensitive information used in your dental practice.
Easy to Manage
Your office is full of highly trained professionals who know how to take excellent care of patients, but technology isn’t necessarily your staff’s strongest area. NAS solutions are designed to make storage of high volumes of data securely really simple and easy. Even if your office has a dozen different computers, they’ll all be able to access data from a centralized location. You can even do this across multiple sites. That makes it a lot easier to backup all of your records and manage security settings.
Cost Effective and Adaptable
Finding a NAS with all of the security and storage functions you need might seem like it comes with a huge price tag, but there are a wide range of affordable products out there that have advanced features. The best part is that you can expand your storage later at a very reasonable cost. As your practice grows and adopts new forms of record keeping, you can simply purchase a few more hard drives to expand your space. NAS products are designed to adapt to what users need at any given time both in terms of raw volume and management features.
Using a NAS in your dental office has clear benefits that will improve experiences for both your staff and your patients. Hundreds of different models are available with a wide range of security and management features, and one that matches your data storage needs is available.
Disclaimer: This article was intended for a previous client who no longer needs it. It’s available for purchase. Just send me a message.