“Who’s on first?” is a line from a routine made famous by comedy duo Abbott and Costello. This article’s goal is to help you identify the technology needs of your practice and ensure that those bases are covered.
Before we begin, a warning: to date, this is by far the nerdiest article I’ve submitted for this publication. Please forgive all the tech-jargon; my intent with its inclusion is to help you become familiar with some of these terms and initiate some productive internal conversations.
It has been my experience that most dental-specific technology needs fall into three categories. (Three bases in baseball. Three categories. See what I did there?) Understanding these categories can help you identify any potential holes in your practice’s needs, so you can address those needs with the correct competencies and skills. The next several paragraphs are intended to read like a job description.
*1* General I.T. Support: Your I.T. needs should include the correct configuration, optimization, troubleshooting, and support of the practice’s server(s) and workstations, as well as system hardware additions, replacements, or upgrades that meet the current technical specifications of your chosen practice management software and integrate with your imaging suite. Confirm local backups, off-site backups, and the presence of Antivirus on the server and all workstation at least once per month. Make sure that network configuration documentation is being created and updated as changes to your network are made and that you have a copy of that documentation. Finally, realize that I.T. proficiencies play a huge role in your practice’s business continuity planning, specifically your ability to restore critical business processes and patient information from backups.
*2* Third-Party Applications Support: This technology need includes the installation, optimization, troubleshooting, and support for your chosen practice management software, including upgrades or conversions. The same goes for your imaging hardware and software, as well as other office applications including, but not limited to, accounting software and email solutions.
*3* Cyber Security and HIPAA Compliance: Your practice’s security and compliance needs include the ability to configure and manage an enterprise-level firewall, implement Internet content filtering, perform packet capture analysis, forensics, and event log correlation using an intrusion prevention system, as well as investigate and provide documented forensic evidence for suspected or confirmed virus activity and for all potential breaches of ePHI. It should also provide complete and accurate technical incident reports.
Covering all three bases may require different aptitudes, familiarities, and/or levels of expertise. If you’re having trouble identifying “Who’s on first?” – “What’s on second?” – or why “I Don’t Know is on third,” use this article as a reference to create job descriptions and/or a series of interview questions when looking to have specific technology roles in your practice filled. Understanding the needs of your practice can be the first step in ensuring that your technology bases are covered.
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