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Do I Need IT for a Startup Dental Practice?

Originally published on the Darkhorse Tech Blog

Do you need to hire an IT company/MSP (Managed Service Provider) if you have decided to open a Dental practice?  After all, when everything is new it is less susceptible to vulnerability right? Wrong.  This outlook is kind of like getting a filling for a cavity and never going back to the dentist because nothing is wrong and with things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, and dietary knowledge you have everything you need to stay healthy.

Startup practices stand to benefit from partnering with an MSP for a variety of reasons but first, what is an MSP?  An MSP (or Managed Service Provider) is hired to manage your practice’s IT (remote or in-person).  An MSP handles many aspects of a dental office’s technology and software from investigation, procurement, installation (often remote), and support.  This is done while also maintaining HIPAA compliance through management of data, cybersecurity, communication platforms, and more.  Since an MSP has access to a Dental Office’s Protected Health Information (PHI), they are considered a Business Associate and as such are personally invested in their client’s compliance with HIPAA regulations as they are also liable.

One of the most common ways to handle IT when opening a Dental practice is going internal either with an employee with computer aptitude, educating yourself, or hiring a family member or friend part-time.  Each of these solutions will “work” but the perception that they save money is false, they all result in lost time and added frustration, and do not come with the benefits of a specialist.

When thinking of how an MSP can help your practice it may be best to consider the phases of a startup, from planning and installation to opening and running an established business.

In the Startup Phase


When thinking of how you will design your practice you will think of workflow, patient experience, and your own aesthetic, you will rarely think of IT. However, MSPs who have a startup specialty have experienced hundreds of startup buildouts and work with all vendors involved in a startup from plumbing, electric, interior design, general contractors, and more.  How these aspects impact IT and vice versa is knowledge hard-earned and well worth tapping into.  An MSP with this expertise will work with our startup clients to help refine their designs holistically, considering how each aspect of their buildout may impact various contractors.


An MSP with a focus on Dental will know how various integrations work (from practice management and imaging to paperless billing and patient engagement) which integrations to avoid and which to embrace and how the blend will impact the necessary specs on your computer decisions. That kind of knowledge will save your budget in the long run and in the short term, many third-party vendors will have “deals” you can access by engaging a well-respected and positioned MSP.

Double Check

Is there anything more valuable than a trusted friend or business partner when evaluating who you are going to work with and the job they are doing? Having experience with all types of vendors in a startup practice, an MSP can help you evaluate who to work with as well as the quality of the work being done and in certain circumstances can step in to “save” a project with valuable insight.

Future Proofing

By trusting an MSP with your vision, they will have an understanding of your “road map” from opening day to five years in and beyond. This type of view offers an MSP the ability to save you money at the outset with various decisions from hardware and software and beyond while making sure that you can “upgrade” whenever possible rather than needing to replace and invest unnecessarily.

In the Installation Phase

Project Management

MSPs with startup experience know the importance of project management, they will have a dedicated team who will work with your other vendors to ensure smooth and timely installation. By having a team dedicated to communication and project management you can be confident that you aren’t alone in overseeing your project.  An offshoot of this advantage is an MSP with Dental-specific knowledge lending an eye to construction and wiring decisions that may be specific to a dental office.  Not every general contractor has dental experience, the same goes for plumbing, electric, and beyond.

Tech Installation and Implementation

Once your office is built and you begin putting in your finishing touches, an MSP will come in to install your computers, network, security cameras, patient entertainment, and so on. As the tech install moves forward they will test all equipment, install your software, and ensure that your team is trained and ready to hit the ground running on opening day.

Once You are Open and Established

24/7 Monitoring

Worthwhile MSPs run software that constantly monitors your network, automatically alerting their team to potential issues. With this type of system in place, you do not have to wait for something to go wrong before you address it.  Consider this software an early warning system, the MSP can address any potential issues and determine the course of action from “false alarm” to impending downtime and respond accordingly.


Ongoing Support


One of the greatest benefits of partnering with an MSP is the ongoing support that they offer. Most MSPs will operate from a ticketing system meaning, any of your employees can trigger a ticket via email, text, phone, etc. and the team of specialists on the other end can begin working on any issue in the background while you and your team go on about your business.  The issues addressed in ongoing support can be anything from front desk printer issues to Dental-specific imaging issues and everything in-between.

HIPAA Compliance

Almost no one spends their free time keeping up with HIPAA compliance and few understand if they are compliant to begin with. Dental-specific MSPs are aware of the latest regulations and have systems in place to ensure you are compliant, your patients’ data is secure and your practice is at no risk from malicious activity.

Future Planning

Anyone who opens a Dental practice will get to a point where they have to start thinking about the growth of their business. Will you expand within your office to more treatment rooms, open a second location, and consider opening multiple locations?  MSPs can help you budget for plan and implement whatever growth you envision.

Darkhorse Tech has grown mainly through referrals to serve nearly 750 dental practices in all 50 states. We have earned our reputation as leaders in delivering managed cybersecurity services for both start-ups and established dental practices.

Let’s get started. Call us today at 800.868.4504 for a free consultation.

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