Should You Trust Your Dental Patient Information to a Data Center?

By Randall Smith, BRS Dental, Vice President, Systems Support

Why does it seem like everything is moving to the cloud?

You used to know where your data was — on the computer or server in your office. But now, the servers that contain your data may be across the country or across the world. You may not even own a local copy of the software you use — you use the internet to sign in and get access to the software’s functions.

Is that safe? For most of us, our gut reaction is that our data is safer located near us than “in a data center who knows where.” “Who knows where” seems to be more prone to hacking, privacy invasion or loss.

Keeping your data in the safest place possible should certainly be priority number one for you. As a dental practice, you have records that are critical to patient health and contain sensitive information.

Let’s investigate the relative safety of your data in the different storage options.

Data centers are purpose-built facilities designed to accommodate hundreds or thousands of power computer servers, with high levels of physical security, advanced fire protection, special cooling systems, and power conditioning and battery backup. The data center used by BRS Dental-Cloud service is staffed 24 hours a day, year round, providing the utmost in reliability and security. Connections to the data center are encrypted in a Virtual Private Network, meeting HIPAA requirements for data security.

The average dental office, on the other hand, does not have year-round 24 hour climate control that is monitored or guarded security checkpoints with electronic door locks or technicians monitoring your computer servers 24-7.

Data loss is less of an issue at a data center than it is in a local server in the office. Office servers are vulnerable to loss of data caused by environmental disaster, like fires or floods. The data center has advanced technologies specifically protecting against environmental threats. Theft is also less of a concern. Because of the extremely high security at a data center, it is more likely that you would lose your data as a result of thieves physically stealing your computers from your office, than a break in at a data center.

What about privacy, hackers and patient information in the Cloud? Privacy is important to everyone. We are alert to privacy and security concerns, which we have addressed with measures in BRS Dental Office Manager beginning with no place for credit card numbers and including security features in the patient ledger, clinical notes, the day sheet and elsewhere. Learn More

Over ten years ago, our Chief Technology officer Jim St. John made an important decision on how BRS Dental Office Manager (“DOM”) would interface with the Internet. He decided that browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc.) presented too many opportunities for intruders. Instead he chose Remote Desktop technology (RDP) together with a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Those are two separate technologies that BRS uses together with the BRS Dental-Cloud. They encrypt the data in transit and choose a protected route to the server. VPN will not let anyone in the door to the server unless that person is known to the system and has credentials. Think of it this way. Walking down Broadway you pass a tavern where you can see who’s inside and what they are doing. Contrast that with a trip down a dark corridor ending at a “speakeasy door” with a small peephole, where you are greeted with “Sorry, we never heard of you…”

It’s our goal at BRS Dental to give you the most security for your practice’s data — security from theft, security from disaster, security from loss. That motivates the privacy and security features we build into DOM, and motivates our choice of datacenter for BRS Cloud-Dental clients and management of that datacenter.

Many dental practices use the cloud to send insurance claims, buy supplies or backup practice records including patient information. For those practices that also want the peace of mind that comes from having the security of your data highly managed and monitored 24-7, moving everything to the cloud is now one of the safest options out there.