Ask Marty: How do you back up data in your office?

2014 02 13 13 44 51 873 Ask Marty200x200

Q: We want to go chartless and were wondering what method you use to back up the data in your office?

A: Congratulations on shifting from physical charts to chartless. My office made the switch years ago, and we couldn't be happier.

Once you switch to electronic health records, you have to make sure you have everything in place to back up your records properly. Whether you are chartless or not, a good backup system is important.

Whatever choice you make for backup, you must have redundant systems. Relying on a single system or backup is a recipe for disaster. All hard drives fail, and data can be corrupted. That is why I recommend performing multiple backups of both your images and practice-management data throughout the day. The backups can be on a local drive or preferably spread across your local area network.

Off-site backups are also necessary and will serve as the last resort, as they can take a day or more to restore. And when time is money, this can be a huge issue.

All backups must be examined to ensure the correct data is being backed up. I used to restore my data to a computer off the network to make sure I had good backups. Many offices find that they have not been backing up the correct data or in some cases no data for years. Finding this out when you need it most is not something you want to experience.

Do not use a laptop as your backup and take it home with you! Laptops can be stolen. Instead, consider placing the data on a portable drive and encrypt the drive. Encryption software such as Truecrypt is free. This way, in the event the drive is lost or stolen, there will be no HIPAA breach.

As my office backups have become more time-consuming, I have switched to a different solution, preferring to automate the entire process. I also wanted the ability to run my office no matter what may happen to the office server. This backup system requires a computer in my office dedicated to just backups along with an online component.

For this I use DDS Rescue from Liptak Dental. This failover server makes 30 copies of my actual server every day so I can always retrieve good data even if the primary server data gets corrupted. I can go back in time to get the good data. The data is pushed to the cloud so you can boot a copy of your practice management system on the web if your office is without power or destroyed.

The backups and off-site data are monitored and comply with all HIPAA regulations. You receive a daily email with a screenshot showing that your virtual server has been tested and can be booted. This means your data is available to you whenever you need it.

Backups in my office are no longer an issue. The data is safely locked in my office and encrypted in the cloud in data centers around the U.S. Computers are insurable, but data is not. It is not the computer that is valuable; it is the data that is irreplaceable. So make sure you have the proper systems in place to ensure you can keep your office data safe and secure.

Marty Jablow, DMD, lectures and consults extensively about integrating technologies into the modern dental practice ( If you've got a technology question for Dr. Jablow, send it to [email protected].

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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