Why Cybersecurity Should Be a Top Priority for Dental Practices

With rapid digital development, dentists have switched to automation and paperless systems to keep their practice up-to-date and convenient for their patients. However, paperless systems and automation software rely a lot on patients’ pre-stored electronic data for everything from appointment scheduling to billing.

Why Cybersecurity Should Be a Top Priority for Dental Practices

The same electronic data that makes your practice management and clinical workflow efficient and convenient is also vulnerable to cyber-attacks and security threats. You need to implement a cybersecurity system in your dental practice to secure this data.

Here are a few reasons why cybersecurity is important for your dental practice:

1. Cyber Criminals Target Dental Practices

Many dentists may think that their practice will not be a target for cybercriminals because it is a small, independent office. However, hackers specifically target small dental offices, as they believe that their employees are less likely to be trained on security policies, do not have firewalls and security protection, and have less IT expertise.

Cybercriminals also target dental practices as they store a vast amount of data, including names, phone numbers, personal addresses, Social Security numbers, health histories, and credit or banking information of patients. All the electronic data stored on computers can be stolen or hacked if not secured properly. 

2. Data Breaches Are More Frequent in Health Care Organizations

The US Department of Health and Human Services reveals that healthcare organizations, including dental practices, contribute to about 33% of all data breaches, which is the highest among all other industries. Data breaches in healthcare organizations mostly happen because of theft, unauthorized disclosure or access, hacking, lost records and devices, human error, and improper disposal of records. Therefore, dental practices should stay more vigilant to ward off any security threats.

3. Data Breaches Result in Significant Losses

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires healthcare providers, including dentists, to keep the patients’ health information and other personal details confidential and private. According to the HIPAA act, dentists must take security measures to prevent patients’ details from misuse by staff, cybercriminals, and hackers. Otherwise, they need to pay penalties for violating HIPAA guidelines.

Monetary penalties per violation can range from $100 to $50,000, with a maximum of $1,500,000 annually. Also, dentists may need to pay penalties imposed by their state and face lawsuits filed by patients whose health record is compromised. A cybersecurity breach can result in substantial financial and reputational losses. Also, you will lose your patients’ trust.

Importance of Implementing Cybersecurity in Your Practice

Working with electronic data can leave your dental practice vulnerable to security threats. To avoid this, implementing cybersecurity is important in your dental practice.

Having cybersecurity in your dental practice helps:

  • Protect data and network from unauthorized access or spam emails
  • Maintain sensitive data easily and safely
  • Improve information security, which further improves your patient trust and practice credentials
  • Recover faster in the event of a data breach 

Make sure that your dental practice complies with HIPAA guidelines concerning information security. Most data breaches happen when employees do not follow office procedures and other security-related policies. Educate your staff about how to comply with the office policy and safely access and maintain patient records. Also, make sure all firewalls, operating systems, software, and hardware devices are updated and secured.

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Steffany Mohan, DDS

Dr. Steffany Mohan, DDS is a highly accomplished dentist, speaker, and coach in dentistry and has been practicing for around 22 years in West Des Moines, IA. She is renowned for her achievements in implant practice management and has established Plaza Dental Group as among the busiest and most thriving dental offices in Iowa