From extensive data breaches to a loss of consumer confidence, 2018 was rife with stories of broken cybersecurity at businesses of all sizes. Even smaller organizations such as dental practices were not immune to the challenges presented by poor data security habits. Healthcare-related data is particularly intriguing to cybercriminals, who can sell this personally identifiable information to data traffickers on the global scene. However, what may be most important is the ability of organizations to differentiate their business by offering a higher degree of security — and ultimately patient convenience.
See how 2019 will be the year that cybersecurity for dentists helps improve patient experience and boost revenue.
Renewed Focus on Business Drivers
Many technology experts are putting more of their focus towards solving business problems in a way that benefits consumers of the service. When you are working with cybersecurity consultants in the dental industry, you’ll find that a deep understanding of business drivers is crucial for the organization’s technology leaders. With all the changes in tech that have been zooming your way in the past five years or so, it is too easy to get caught up in the endless loop of upgrades and the latest technology instead of taking the time to determine which updates are indeed adding business value and adding to the security posture of the practice. Ensuring that your 2019 technology projects meet both business and security goals is where you will honestly find the balance that will allow your dental practice to see growth and cost savings.
Cyber Security Landscape
Throughout 2018, there were significant changes in cyber security for dentists, including new legislation around personal health information (PHI) and data security. Ransomware and malware peaked in 2017 and before beginning to lose prominence but continued to annoy organizations throughout 2018 — a trend that’s expected to continue through 2019 and beyond. However, cybercriminals are expected to continue their exploitation of IoT (Internet of Things) connected devices, something that can be a big challenge for ultra-connected dental offices. Surprisingly, email phishing scams seem to be one of the most common ongoing problems, where cyberattackers pose as individuals within the organization to capture data or encourage users to click an enticing link or ad. These issues negatively impact your patients in a variety of ways:
- Causing a lack of confidence in your practice
- Reducing the ability of your staff to function effectively and provide excellent service
- Productivity losses due to a data breach
- Direct costs to the business that reduce funds that could be spent on improved diagnostic tools
Providing your patients with the most cohesive and up-to-date technology yields happy clients who become social promoters of your practice.
IoT and the Dental Industry
Interconnected devices are truly shaking up the dental industry, from connected toothbrushes to a tooth chip that records what you eat. Even reordering supplies could soon become as easy as pushing a button a la Amazon Dash– a button that would be connected to your office WiFi, however. The connected nature of these devices means that there is ample opportunity for unsavory individuals to gain access to your practice’s network, where they may be able to find all types of personal information on patients including social security numbers, financial data and more. Each of these devices, while providing significant value to your practice, must be adequately protected from cyberattackers with a robust security solution offered by a team who can maintain updates and patches on a regular basis.
Robust Cyber Security Solutions
Data is not only at risk when it is moving from place to place, but it can also be vulnerable while it is sitting in a storage solution. That means your cybersecurity solution needs to cover all of your various platforms, cloud-based software technologies, connected devices and your office WiFi network that is open to your patients for their convenience. Even a simple mistake by a well-meaning staff member can cause a massive data breach, so it’s essential to have robust cybersecurity solutions in place to reduce your risk of attack. You may think that small offices are immune to this type of breach, but the opposite is true. Small to mid-size businesses such as dental practices are more likely to be hacked than a larger organization, due to the perceived lack of dental IT service expertise, lower security thresholds and a belief that staff is not well-trained in security best practices. Even the most complex security solutions can be breached by an employee who has an easy-to-hack password, making training a crucial part of cybersecurity for dentists. A comprehensive solution may include:
- Vigorous firewall protection, to reduce the possibility that malicious emails or files enter your systems
- Remote active system monitoring, so any breaches are quickly identified and can be remediated
- An IT solutions partner that understands the unique needs of the dental industry
- Reporting solutions to help you maintain compliance with HIPAA and other government regulations
- 24/7 maintenance and security patches to ensure that your network hardware and software are always up-to-date
When you have these solutions in place, you will have an added peace of mind knowing that your dental practice is well-protected from individuals who wish to cause you harm.
Maintaining cybersecurity guidelines in 2019 and beyond will be increasingly complex, especially for an overworked IT department at your dental practice. When you can work with a trusted partner to provide these solutions, you can be confident that your patients will receive the best possible care — protecting not only their teeth but also their privacy, personal and financial information.