Driving Practical IT Cybersecurity in Your Practice to Make Waves in a Sea of Competition
Information Technology (IT) is essential today, and its impacts on businesses have been largely positive. Effective orthodontic practice cybersecurity and IT strategy advantages include staff productivity, secure data storage, lower costs, and happier clients with shorter wait times and faster scheduling.
From a doctor's perspective, these advantages matter. Especially now.
Given previous insight into orthodontic economic trends, staying on top of your office's tech is a big deal: 2022 data reveals that practices aren't measuring up to 2021's "Zoom effect," according to a year-over-year analysis. The study indicated practice inefficiency and an overall lack of growth, indicating downward trends in a market that can’t afford to lose more patients due to cybersecurity risks or outdated technology practices.
In addition to implementing marketing strategies and managing sales funnels, these disappointing statistics highlight the need for more efficient technology and cybersecurity measures in orthodontic offices. Recently, one of the largest data breaches occurred at Jefferson Dental and Orthodontics. The data of more than one million Texans was exposed. Their March 2022 report on the matter is the largest breach ever reported to the Texas Attorney General.
Keep Your Orthodontic Practice Safe from Cyberattacks
With ever-increasing competition and cybersecurity risks, there's never been a better time to learn how IT benefits your practice and five ways you can make it work to your advantage.
1. If you haven’t already, devise an IT plan so you can be prepared for anything.
First, every business needs a strategic plan of action when addressing IT-related issues. Without a plan to help you and your staff tread the murky waters of tech problems, you risk unnecessary headaches that are only intensified by wasted time and lost profits. The good news is that you're here, which means you're in the preliminary stages of your plan.
Start thinking about procedures to help you and your staff prepare for routine tech processes (like employee onboarding) and unfortunate setbacks (such as cyberattacks). It also helps to include details about the following:
- Your IT budget and emergency expenses
- Who to contact for your IT services
- What to do in the event of a security breach
Having clear IT procedures in place prepares you for events that could hinder the operation of your practice. They also prevent misguided or slow reactions to them, which could cost you clients—and profits.
2. Safeguard information with a password management system for maximum protection that’s easy to use.
Orthodontists oversee a lot of privileged information, particularly regarding children. Data breaches are pervasive and present many areas of concern to the medical and dental communities due to the amount of client information they have. As a result, practices must prioritize the need for high-level security.
Password management systems protect your digital data by allowing you to create, store, and access unique passwords with a master password protected by end-to-end encryption.
Using a password manager is far safer than sharing a batch of passwords or using weak passwords that are easy to memorize. After all, you don't want to pay a HIPAA fine or have a challenging conversation with a client about why a hacker accessed their child's information.
3. Stop using unreliable browser programs and protect critical data with a cloud server.
While the password management system is the iron grip you need to keep important information safe, sometimes that grip can break. Power outages, server crashes, cyberattacks, human error, and other unforeseen problems could erase or leak valuable records. Potentially, this leaves you with a hole in your wallet and a soiled reputation.
One report outlined the financial damage of data breaches, noting that violations of fewer than 100 lost files could cost between $18,120 to $35,730.
Consider using cloud backup software to store your information to combat such disasters. A cloud backup can immediately restore any lost data, regardless of location. It's also a cost-effective option since you wouldn't be purchasing expensive on-site storage equipment and paying installation fees.
4. Put measures in place for mobile device usage so phones and tablets don’t leave your practice vulnerable.
We can't stress this enough: Data protection is a big deal for your practice. You owe your staff, clients, and yourself to keep critical information safe. The tablets that help you check patients into the reception area and the smartphones that occupy your staff on lunch breaks present plenty of security risks if left unsecure.
Establish rules for using these devices on and off company grounds to minimize cybersecurity threats and theft. In addition to reminding your staff of responsible device usage, make sure to include measures like:
- Requiring strong passwords and lock screen passcodes to secure mobile devices and decrease the risk of data theft and hacking
- Avoiding public WiFi use to eliminate the risk of malware accessing devices and stealing your company's data
- Reporting lost or stolen equipment immediately so your IT team can lock or erase equipment data
- Using antivirus software to secure data, remove viruses and malware, and alert you of phishing emails
Also, consider having employees use company-owned devices while working so you can control what apps they install. Likewise, you can create a list of approved apps to use if they bring their own devices from home.
5. Invest in IT-enabled hardware for effortless and reliable cybersecurity.
Of course, you can do many things to ensure the tech in your practice is secure and up to speed, but nothing is more effective than using hardware designed to do exactly that. Tops is the only orthodontic practice management software created to run on Apple® hardware, ensuring top speed, reliability, and security.
With Tops, if you already use a Mac, you don't have to worry about running slow browser-based programs that may crash or present cybersecurity risks, causing more trouble than it's worth. Plus, unlike browser-based programs, Tops has never had a data breach. Moreover, lost data is quickly recovered because the orthodontic practice management system operates on a cloud-based server.
You'll also save time and money on computer repairs because you can automatically upgrade the hardware every three years. Consistently updating your hardware keeps your software running safely and efficiently.
Similarly, it's worth noting the money and time you'll save on IT repairs and phone calls. Dr. Tom Olson, a dedicated Tops customer since 2015, praised Tops for its speed and reliability while pointing out its lower cost:
"Others will say Macs are more expensive, right? Not when you figure [in] the life of the operating system, the computer, and the savings in IT support... It will pay for itself a few times over. Sorry, PC. I did the math."
Leave cybersecurity and IT worries behind
Now that you know more about how to protect, store, and recover your practice’s data with essential tools like a password management system, cloud server, mobile device usage plan, and IT-enabled hardware, you’re ready to start planning your IT strategy. Then, begin implementing essential security measures that will make a big difference for you and your staff.
With the new year on the way, it's a good time to start thinking about how to kick things off so your office can thrive well into 2023 and beyond. As you do, consider making Tops a part of your ortho practice's cybersecurity and IT strategy. You'll spend less time agonizing over data security, speed, and reliability and more time on what matters: making your patients smile.