Features in Microsoft 365 Your Dental Practice Should Implement Today

Author: Kelley Donald - MarCom/Friday, December 2, 2022/Categories: Business Internet

Today's dental practice has a lot going on. From making sure that you offer the latest technology to improve patient experiences and outcomes to staying on top of cutting-edge techniques to improve comfort and overall oral health, you work hard to stay on top of things. 

However, you probably feel like there are always things you could be doing bigger, better, faster, and possibly more.

The good news is that there are things you can do in your dental practice to make improvements that will not cost your business a lot of money. 

Using these seven features in Microsoft 365 allows you to get more mileage from the technology you are already using without paying extra for the privilege. Here is what you need to know about the features and how they can benefit your practice.

1. HIPAA Business Associate Agreement (BAA)

With all the convenient tools Microsoft 365 offers businesses, it is no wonder that dental practices everywhere would like to use this invaluable service. 

However, the Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act, otherwise known as HIPAA, has strict requirements for maintaining and protecting patients' private health information.

Dental practices should utilize the  many convenient and useful features Microsoft 365 offers and take the extra step to ensure HIPAA compliance with a signed Business Associate Agreement or BAA

Make sure this is one of the first things you do for the sake of your dental practice when using Microsoft 365.

2. Message Encryption

Many dental practices view this as an added layer of protection. However, it is essential protection for your practice and the privacy of your patients. 

Email is one of the most efficient communication tools available today because it is fast and easy to use, allowing for sharing of information almost instantaneously. 

Encryption offers protection for patient information that is reasonable and appropriate for privacy expectations and compliance with current laws. Make sure you are making use of this essential tool in your practice.

What is Office 365 Message Encryption? A tool that allows your organization to communicate, via email, internally and externally, while ensuring that only the intended recipient can view the content. 

This encryption service will work with Outlook.com, and it works with Yahoo!, Gmail, and others for added convenience and usefulness.

3. Auditing

Perhaps one of the most interesting features to consider is the auditing feature that provides auditing and reporting for individual user activities. 

This helps ensure that no one who should not be accessing patient information and data is doing so and that those who do need this information have access to it.

Additionally, authorized staff members can search the audit log for specific activities, such as who at the practice viewed a specific document, deleted a file, etc. This is not only about compliance but is critical for office management and administration. 

Additionally, the knowledge that you have the capabilities of auditing workflow keeps people on task and discourages dishonesty or maliciousness in the workplace.

4. Large File Transfer

Large files can be problematic for businesses. The same holds true for dental practices, which often require the digital transfer of x-rays, patient information, scanned documents, and other digital images. 

Whether you are sharing this information with other dental practices or individual patients for their personal records, no one wants a large file transfer to bog down your entire computer system.

Microsoft 365 offers a simple solution by allowing you to attach a document link rather than the entire file. 

The files are then stored in OneDrive for Business or SharePoint, which are included with your Microsoft 365 subscription, where either party can access the information without slowing down essential computer systems and overall functionality while doing so.

5. Email Archiving

Many dental practices actively pursue email archiving as part of an effective HIPAA compliance effort. If your practice believes this is the case, you will find Microsoft's Exchange Online Archiving to be of particular interest, especially in light of a few benefits it offers.

  • Long-term storage of email communications, for the sake of compliance, that cannot be edited or deleted by dental practice staff.
  • Emergency access to all emails sent and received by your practice.
  • Exact copies of emails to satisfy electronic records disclosure needs.

These features are incredibly advantageous and can save valuable time and effort should the need arise to provide exact copies of electronic records and email communications.

6. Protect Patient Data Beyond Your Inbox

It is one thing to protect files while they are in your network. This process often involves simple solutions. However, problems can arise once you need to share this information and data with people outside your network. 

SharePoint provides a solution that allows you to invite others into your network as "guests" so they can access the specific information for a designated amount of time.

For instance, you can create a link, along with a username and password, for your guests to use, along with an expiration date, 30 days, for instance. 

That means that people can access a specific file or specific group of files via one link for a limited amount of time in order to obtain the information they need without placing your patient's privacy at risk.

7. Advanced Threat Protection

Attacks from hackers have become increasingly sophisticated in recent years. Especially attacks perpetrated against businesses and medical interests, like your dental practice. Microsoft offers built-in protection from some threats with its Exchange Online Protection. 

However, many dental practices need something a little more, like the Advanced Threat Protection that provides additional protection beyond the typical spam, malware, and virus protection the basic coverage offers. 

Advanced Threat Protection offers the following advantages to dental practices that utilize these services:

  • Protection against unknown threats.
  • Blocking malicious URLs and redirects to suspicious or "unsafe" websites.
  • Reporting and tracking message origin to determine which email addresses attackers are targeting.

As you can see, the advanced protection goes beyond the basic protections that are widely available, offering your dental practice an added layer of security against various cyber threats and risks.

Bonus Features to Keep in Mind

Beyond the more advanced features mentioned above, there are additional features your dental practice may find beneficial when using Microsoft 365. They include the following:

  • OneDrive. A file-sharing platform, simile to Dropbox (and others) on the market. OneDrive allows you to access and share files from within your network simply and efficiently, without requiring additional login information.
  • Microsoft Forms. Make patient forms for your dental practice a snap; whether using them internally or for your customers, Microsoft Forms is an excellent tool to ease the process of gathering key information.
  • SharePoint. As mentioned above, SharePoint offers a "one-stop" resource for all information related to your business. From essential contact information to group calendars, scheduled events, policies, procedures, news, and more, SharePoint is a simple solution to keep everyone on the same page.
  • Todo, Planner, and Projects. Organization may be a struggle for some dental practices. The more you grow, the more challenging it becomes. The "Todo" feature allows you to create lists of tasks and prioritize them according to specific requirements for assigning to various team members or for your own personal needs.
  • OneNote. Available for use on desktop computers and mobile devices, OneNote allows you to make small notes of pertinent information that will never be lost. Other members of your team can compile these “notes” for later use to create documents, files, patient records, etc.
  • Microsoft Teams. Keep your entire team on the same page and updated with the latest information and strategies to grow your dental practice with the Microsoft Teams video conferencing tool. Whether you are managing multiple offices or simply out of the office for a day, week, etc., and need to keep up with what is going on day-to-day in the office, this tool can be invaluable. More importantly, it promotes greater efficiency throughout the office.

Your dental practice is a busy operation. Many things need to be done to ensure the safety and privacy of your patients.

Consolidated Communications understands how important the privacy of your patients is to your practice and your peace of mind. We are a leading provider of advanced business communications services and a 10-fiber network provider with over 50,000 fiber route miles serving 20+ states. 

Our mission is to help drive technology and communications while offering dental practices like yours access to the latest information about technology and tools that can help you improve your patient experiences and protect their privacy.

Contact Consolidated Communications today to see how we can help your dental practice.

 

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