As a dental professional, you wouldn’t expect your customers to be able to check themselves for cavities. They don’t have the specialized tools or knowledge to be able to do so effectively. So why would you want to attempt to manage your information technology? You don’t have the specialized tools or knowledge to do so effectively either.
Yet you need IT (information technology) – to manage patient scheduling, automate billing, track patient records, email, etc. And, you need to do these things and more while complying with HIPAA and keeping your patients’ confidential information secure from hackers.
Most importantly, you want to focus on making your patients happy. It’s better for a business to keep an existing customer than to try to acquire a new one.
Managed IT services can help your dental practice (or any business, really).
What Is Managed Services?
Much like your patients outsource their dental care to you, managed services is a way of outsourcing your IT needs to a managed services provider (MSP).
Technopedia defines an MSP: “a type of IT service company that provides server, network, and specialized applications to end users and organizations. These applications are hosted and managed by the service provider. MSPs tend to be Web hosting or application service providers that allow users to outsource their network and application resource procedures under a delivery agreement. In most cases, the MSPs own the entire physical back-end infrastructure and provide resources to end users remotely over the Internet on a self-service, on-demand basis.”
Let’s point out here that not all MSPs are identical – some focus on particular industries, some on an entirely cloud-based model, some combine cloud with onsite management, and some manage your IT onsite.
When looking for the right MSP for your business, look for these two things to create a quick short list of potential partners;
I. Knowledge in your industry — this is helpful, but shouldn’t disqualify an MSP as a partner
II. Ability to offer the services you need – which could include software implementation services as well as outsourced management of your IT in the cloud and/or managing your hardware and software onsite. (We can do both, though we focus on onsite management of IT infrastructure for dentists because you can’t risk any connection failures during business hours.)
Dental practices almost always outsource their IT needs. An MSP is a step beyond what many dental practices use for IT support. Most often, a dental practice will hire an IT company to come in and set up their IT, then manage it via a break/fit model (when something breaks, you call someone to fix it). This is wasteful spending and leads to poor IT support. We’ll talk about proactive IT management benefits below.
What are some of the functions that an MSP can provide for a dental office? Here are a few:
- Network and data security, including HIPAA-compliance guidance
- Implementation and management of client-care software
- Email management
- IT helpdesk
- Help with HIPAA-compliant data backup strategies
- Integrated telephone system
- Hardware management and support
There’s more, but you get the idea. Everything needed to run a practice can be outsourced.
Benefits of an MSP
I’ve already mentioned the expertise benefits. It’s hard to find and keep IT professionals – they’re in-demand and skilled professionals. Much like some dentists practice sedation dentistry, pediatrics, orthodontics, and so on; IT skills vary too. Someone great at network security issues might not have the same skill when it comes to creating a backup plan. In an MSP, you’ll find all the expertise needed under one roof.
I want to spotlight proactive management of issues instead of “fixing” IT with break/fix. An MSP will continuously monitor your network and proactive fix issues (network security patches, for example) without you even knowing about it. You stay more productive because you’ll have less downtime and IT disruptions. Think of proactively IT management as good dental hygiene. It’s much better to brush, floss, and have a regular cleaning than it is to avoid issues until cavities need to be filled or something worse needs to be done. Oral hygiene or IT support, being proactive is cheaper and less painful.
Other benefits include:
- Lower upfront costs – you’re “renting” a service, so there’s no need to purchase software and hardware (There are some instances when it does make sense to own all or some of your hardware and/or software; your MSP can help guide your decision.)
- Consistent budgeting – with a subscription support model, you pay a known monthly fee. No more unexpected repairs causing cash flow concerns.
- Established service levels – your MSP will respond to issues according to negotiated service level agreements.
- Virtual CIO (chief information officer) – a good MSP partner will help you identify your IT needs and plan for the future.
- One help desk – your MSP handles your entire IT infrastructure, no need to guess about who to call if you have an IT problem.
But the most important benefit is the one I mentioned in the beginning: a partner with the IT expertise you don’t have who can help tailor an IT plan that will support your practice today and grow with it tomorrow. Check out the Top 10 Benefits of partnering with a Managed Services Provider.
You practice dentistry. Let us handle the rest.