One Key Reason to Always Keep Your Software Up to Date 

Over the past few decades, cyberattacks have evolved into large-scale threats with devastating consequences. Governments, healthcare providers, businesses, service providers, and even individuals fall victim to ransomware, phishing scams, and malware. 

Healthcare is one of the industries most at risk of cyberattacks.  Patient data has a high price tag for hackers searching for personal health information (PHI) and financial records. In addition to complying with security best practices, there are some ground rules for keeping your practice data safe from hackers. In this blog post, we will explore the reasoning behind why your office should always keep all software and operating systems up to date from a data security standpoint. 

Keep your Practice Management Software Up to Date 

Regularly updating your dental software is one of the most important things you can do to keep your practice data complete, accurate, and secure. Software updates often include safeguards such as security patches and bug fixes that can prevent data corruption or loss and protect against cyber threats.

ABELDent open on a computer with a data security icon overlaid

What is the risk? 

To understand the risk of running outdated practice management software, you must consider the accelerating and ever-evolving nature of technology. It may seem safe to assume that, because you have never been the victim of an attack, you are well enough protected.  

Cyber threats evolve over time, as do the measures available to overcome them. Software developers update software to respond to threats, both specific and theoretical, and to reduce the impact of diverse types of threats. Even updates with no discernible new features often contain changes designed to protect the user.

Continuing to use older software versions increases the number of potential threats while not providing potential remedies. For this reason, the more updates not applied, the greater the risk. It is important to install new releases that become available.

Keep Your Operating System Up to Date as Well

Your application software is not all that should be kept up to date. It is also crucial to keep the Operating System (OS) on each of your computers reasonably up to date.

Microsoft and other OS creators release patches regularly to protect against newly discovered or potential threats. After several years, ongoing support for each operating system ends. Take, for instance, the case of Windows 7 and 8. Microsoft ended support for Windows 7 in 2020 and will end support for Windows 8 in January 2023. When support ends, patches are no longer applied to protect that version of the operating system and hackers have more time to pinpoint and exploit security flaws.  

While your dental software will often continue to run on computers with out-of-date operating systems, your entire system and all the software and data on it may be at risk. For a dental practice, the greatest risk is the loss, loss of use of, or exposure of practice data. 

Cyber threats will continue to change. There is no perfect protection, but you can reduce the threat to your practice and patient data, by keeping your software and operating systems up to date.  

Using software that provides regular, automatic software updates, such as ABELDent Local+ or ABELDent Cloud, is a great way to maximize practice security. Interested in learning more about ABELDent’s data-protecting measures? Read about the details here or contact us at 1-800-267-ABEL (2235). 

Understanding Data Encryption’s Role in Your Dental Practice

Encrypted data is a software and technology industry standard. Data encryption is necessary in the healthcare industry, working as an effective tool to protect patient information (PHI). In this blog post, we want to help you understand the importance of data encryption and explain the steps ABELDent takes towards protecting and securing your practice’s valuable information via encryption.

What is Encryption?

Data encryption is the process of translating information into a code to prevent unauthorized access and leaked data. In simpler terms, encryption is where your practice data is coded into an unreadable format, which then can be transferred safely. For example, your practice data is encrypted before it is backed up with our Remote Backup Service (RBS).

Encryption for Data At Rest vs. Data In Transit

Data at rest accounts for the information that resides in your machine. For example, photos, documents, and files that you store on your computer. These files are ideally protected by multiple layers of security, such as antivirus software and/or a firewall. Encrypting specific sensitive files, such as payments, healthcare-related files, or other private documents, creates another layer of protection, which only allow viewers with authorized access to view the files.

ABELDent protects your resting data by ensuring only people who have an account to access their SQL data will be able to access it. This measure, achieved through data encryption, keeps dental offices safe from malicious third-party attackers. Resting data that is backed up in Cloud servers, such as Microsoft Azure servers (which ABELDent uses for RBS) is secured under multiple layers of encryption and firewalls to ensure your practice data is as protected as possible.

Data in transit, as you might have guessed, is data that travels. An example of this is data that is being backed up on Cloud servers. Data in transit is more vulnerable than resting data, as communication channels are easier to attack for cybercriminals. For this reason, encryption is a necessity for transmitting data. ABELDent ensures your data in transit is secure by encrypting your information before backing up your data, such as with the ABELDent Cloud solution and RBS. As mentioned above, when the data reaches the Cloud location for storage, the information is encrypted and safeguarded under multiple layers of security.

Minimize third-party systems

juggling

Your office may use several third-party software systems outside of your original practice management software. For instance, your office may use separate patient communication, imaging, and system backup software. From a security standpoint, it is ideal to minimize the number of different applications your office runs. We want to highlight the risks associated with integrating third-party software with your practice management system, especially if some platforms are outdated or data is kept unencrypted. Some of these risks include:

  • Possibility of hacking and accessing PHI by anyone who may have access to your system via a third-party entrance
  • Older/outdated versions of software are typically not as secure as new versions, and therefore must be kept up-to-date
  • Juggling too many different platforms makes it harder to stay up to date with each software

Opting for an all-in-one solution, such as ABELDent, helps you minimize these issues, as well as making daily workflows easier and faster.

What to do with this information?

Now that you have a better understanding of the process of encryption and can see how it is a technology industry-standard, we hope you take some time to evaluate your practice’s security set-up. Is your practice data regularly backed up into local or cloud servers? How often are your practice data backups? If your office uses local servers, what protective measures do you have in place to deter cyberattacks?

ABELDent is here to help you secure your practice’s valuable data. Patient records, financial information, and other classified documents can’t fall into the wrong hands. If you are interested in using a top-quality secure platform such as ABELDent Cloud, or want to look into backing up your data, we invite you to contact us – we are happy to discuss your practice security options with you.

Why ABELDent Is Your One-Stop-Solution For All Of Your Practice Management Needs

How much does your current dental software allow you to do? Does your current software provide you with all the tools you need to manage your practice? How many different programs does your practice use daily? 

These are some burning questions fuelling the growing number of offices switching to practice management platforms that provide more tools. 

In previous blog posts, we discussed some of the reasons Dentists, Hygienists, and Office Managers are opting for an all-in-one software solution. Whether it is because of the simplicity of automatic updates, or the surety of meeting compliance standards, many practices are moving to modern, comprehensive solutions like ABELDent CS/LS+.  

data security

How much difference would a comprehensive solution make in your practice?  

Implementing a “one-stop-shop” solution such as ABELDent could benefit your practice in multiple ways, such as: 

  • All-encompassing dental software in your office minimizes potential gaps in data that can result from having too many different platforms in operation.  
  • A comprehensive software eliminates the need to navigate back-and-forth between various programs, simplifying your team’s workflow and improving efficiency. 
  • An all-in-one package saves you money compared to multiple purchases and/or subscriptions.  

What is the problem with using too many applications? 

We have discussed various issues that can stem from using multiple applications in your daily routine, such as syncing problems between two or more platforms, which can cause data gaps. Syncing issues may mean that some applications display outdated information, such as allergies, medications, and other crucial information.  

If your office has technical difficulties, contacting different support teams from various companies can get overwhelming. Keeping up with multiple updates and patches may cause discrepancies between different applications and may lead to poor integrations.  

One of the primary benefits of using comprehensive dental software is that all-in-one solutions minimize problems caused by third-party platforms. ABELDent products are designed to work seamlessly, ensuring smooth and seamless usage.  

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The financial screen (left) and the patient’s charting screen (right) in ABELDent CS and LS+.

Keeping your practice data on one system is not only easier for you to manage, but more secure.  

Why? 

A single comprehensive solution is more secure for multiple reasons. The more applications your practice uses, the higher the chances of corrupted data, hole-poking into your practice data, and possible integration issues. A one-stop solution such as ABELDent mitigates these risks, letting your team operate worry-free.  

Are you looking to transition to an all-in-one dental software? 

Opt in for ABELDent CS or LS+. ABELDent continually improves and adds new time-saving features that help provide top-quality care to patients easier than ever. ABELDent’s capabilities have a wide range, hitting all, if not most, your practice management needs. Some of our most notable features include: 

Reach out to us today to request a demo or make the switch, or watch some of our videos to learn more about our all-in-one solution. 

Managing Patient Treatment with ABELDent

Patients who miss their appointments or do not reschedule their next visit can “fall through the cracks”. Without a system in place to keep up with unbooked treatment, patients may go many months without important dental treatment. This can jeopardize your practice production and may lead to weakened patient rapport caused by long time periods between visits. 

Other crucial issues with patients “falling through the cracks” includes the risk of oral health decline, misinformed patients, and a potential rise of emergency visits from patients who neglect their oral health.

It can be a challenge to convince some patients of the importance of their oral hygiene. Oftentimes, patients do not realize how important regular cleanings are until they are facing issues such as decay, potential extractions, and endodontic treatments.  

ABELDent dental software provides dental offices with a concrete solution to this problem, helping you book patients who may have missed previous appointments to increase the likelihood of completing treatment. 

With ABELDent’s Treatment Manager, you can quickly search for patients that have unbooked treatment, filtering the search list in a variety of ways, including: 

  • Range of Dates: search by the patient’s appointment due date, follow-up date, or the date a treatment plan was created for the patient 
  • Treatment with specific providers: helpful for keeping providers busy and ensuring that treatment is booked with the desired provider 
  • Type of treatment: such as restorations, extractions, crowns, implants, or hygiene appointments, enabling you to focus on high priority procedures 
  • Cancelled appointments: detailed down to the way the appointment was cancelled, such as a no-show, forgotten appointment, or last-minute cancellation 
  • Location: helpful for practices with multiple locations 
  • Or any combination of the above 

Using Treatment Manager, you can find patients who missed appointments from a date range and remind them to rebook their treatment with your office. Rather than leaving the onus on your patients to rebook their treatment, your office can initiate contact to stay on top of unscheduled treatment.  

Treatment Manager is just one feature of ABELDent dental software that helps make practice management easier for your whole team. Watch our video to see how ABELDent’s Treatment Manager can turn no-shows and cancelled appointments into completed treatment, happy patients, and practice production. 

3 Ways Using Video Tools Benefit Your Practice

Video is more than just a promotion tool.

Has your dental practice made any videos in the past? Do you currently record videos for patients, or does your office have a YouTube channel? Even posting videos on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok can be effective in building an online presence.  

Whether your practice posts videos or not, it is helpful to know the potential impact videos can have on both your dental office and your patients. Understanding the outcomes that may come from creating a few videos is the first step in deciding whether or not to produce some video content, and also deciding whether it is worth it for your office, or not. In this blog post, we are going to cover some of the ways you can use videos as a dental clinic, such as: 

  1. To promote your practice online 
  1. To strengthen patient-provider relationships, even with prospective patients 
  1. To make oral healthcare information such as aftercare instructions more accessible for patients (and the general public) 

Using video for online advertising 

Person opening Youtube on a smartphone

When comparing text-based promotions to video ads, the latter boasts better results. The facts and statistics speak for themselves: using video content is far more effective than text-based content. If your dental practice needs some website content or you are looking to establish an online presence, consider using video.

If your office already uses Google Ads, using YouTube for video content may be a promising choice. YouTube, which is owned by Google, seamlessly integrates with other Google products (such as Google Ads), which can help make your promotion process easier; for example, you can promote videos as an ad if you want to reach more prospective patients and expand your practice.

Using video for strengthening patient-provider relationships 

Patient-provider relationships are one of the main pillars of dentistry, being the driving cause for fostering healthy relationships and keeping patients coming back for routine treatment. Videos offer a chance for you to personify your clinic’s online presence, making it easier to foster patient-provider relationships online by having a positive first impression. 

Videos are one of the more empathetic media forms, giving viewers a chance to emotionally connect with the person on-screen. Moreover, videos can build trust for the viewer, depending on the content. Even if your video does not show a person at all, (e.g. it may only contain text or pictures to explain a concept), video is far more engaging than text or images, allowing viewers to focus on your content for longer. 

Some examples of videos that practices post are: 

  • Virtual office tour – beneficial for prospective patients to learn what your clinic looks like beforehand, and gives you a chance to demonstrate any safety or hygiene precautions your practice may be taking 
  • Post-operative instructions – we will talk more about this in the next section (below) 
  • Announcements – for example, holiday hours or new team members 
  • Team introductions – shows that your office cares about prioritizing patient-provider relationships by offering a good first impression to any prospects 

There are hundreds of potential videos your office could make, depending on the needs you are trying to meet by using this format. 

Using video as a form of teledentistry – making oral health information accessible online 

Dentist on laptop screen

When utilized in certain ways, videos can qualify as telehealth, such as promoting good hygiene habits for patients when out of office, or providing relevant information to your patients. According to RCDSO, sharing a recorded video is a form of asynchronous teledentistry, as long as the material is being used to help evaluate a patient’s condition, or assist in treating a patient outside of a real-time interaction. In other words, sending a patient a video of aftercare instructions counts as teledentistry, which can be a useful tool in ensuring patients follow instructions correctly.  

For more information on teledentistry in Ontario, check out RCDSO’s informational page on the topic. 

Video creation is not as much work as you may think 

The great thing about using video as a medium in 2021 is that the process has become accessible for nearly anyone with a smartphone. Ultimately, video creation does not have to be high-effort or high-cost. Utilizing this medium can be as simple as recording a short video on your smartphone, and either uploading directly or using a cost-effective (or even free) editing tool.  

There are various platforms and tools that your office can use to create and enhance video content, some specifically geared towards people who do not have any video editing experience (e.g. CanvaVimeo, etc.) You can even utilize smartphone applications if you just need to do some simple enhancements to your videos, such as adding text or images to your projects. 

If your office is interested in producing video content for patients and prospective patients, setting up a process with an administrative associate may be required to produce quality videos. For example, few planning steps are always required before jumping into creating video content. As an oral healthcare provider, you may not have time to produce such content with your schedule full of patients. For this reason, we encourage having a pre-established process with team members, or maybe even a group outside of your regular dental team. Perhaps your clinic wants to opt for a few pre-recorded post-operative instructions to send to patients after their oral surgeries. There are various options for all types of practices, it’s just a matter of putting the time into crafting something that can be used time and again. 

Simplified Charting in ABELDent CS and LS+

A comprehensive charting system is a necessity for your dental office. While practice management systems offer the same range of charting mechanisms, ABELDent provides you with simplified systems for clinical charting such as templated clinical chart notes for quick and easy record-keeping with no compromises. ABELDent comes with clinical note presets that you can edit or change to fit your practice’s needs. These fast templated notes mean your team spends more time focusing on providing top-quality treatment without sacrificing detailed records. Other benefits much like templated clinical notes are what makes ABELDent such a useful tool for dental professionals. In this blog post, we are going to go in-depth about some of ABELDent CS and LS+’s charting features.

Charting Existing Conditions

Even new hires can easily adapt to working in your practice by utilizing ABELDent’s simplified workflows. 

All your team needs to do is use the buttons on the left side of the clinical chart to mark existing conditions and treatments quickly and efficiently.  

Quick Tip: 

To add an existing condition to your patient’s chart, click the tooth with the condition, then press  the button for the condition you want to apply. For example, below, the patient’s 18 is marked as ‘missing’.  

patient’s chart
Tooth 18 is marked as ‘missing’ in the patient’s clinical chart.

To mark an existing condition on more than one tooth, hold down the button for that condition until it turns blue. Then click on all of the teeth that you want to post that condition to. This simple shortcut can save to time and effort each day. 

Watch the video below to see how simple and efficient charting conditions on multiple teeth is in ABELDent. 

Charting New Treatment 

When adding today’s treatment, or creating treatment plan(s) for a patient, ABELDent gives you the option to filter procedure codes so you can quickly select the most common treatments or codes. For example, when charting a restorative procedure, simply select the tooth surface(s) that need to be restored, and ABELDent will display the appropriate procedure code for you to choose from.

Another time-saver is the ability to record treatment provided to a patient by one or more providers. If two or more different providers see the same patient on a specific day, you can easily change the provider without closing out of the chart. This keeps provider production separate. Additionally, deleting codes is as simple as clicking the code you want deleted, then navigating to the trash-can button below the chart. 

Intuitive charting is just one of the various benefits ABELDent CS and LS+ provides its users. To learn more about how ABELDent can make practice management easier, contact us today!

Here’s Why Dentists Are Opting For an All-In-One Practice Management Solution

How many different software platforms does your dental practice use daily? 

Dental offices have a growing number of technologies available to meet practice specific practice needs. Some practices use more of these than others, trying to get the most benefit from each. This approach can sometimes get complicated.  For instance, if one or more of the solutions have difficulties, it can lead to having to spend time on the phone with multiple companies while at the same time trying to work through the issues created in the office. Most of all, having many different types of software can result in new problems when one of the solutions is updated without a corresponding change in other software.  

A more comprehensive dental software can help to minimize these issues, and often save you money at the same time. 

A computer screen with ABELDent open on the screen, showing a patient's clinical chart. There are 3 icons showing a tooth with a checkmark, a calendar, and a smartphone.

While there are cases where using different software solutions can be useful, the benefits a practice receives from smoothly integrated, consistent software can surpass the benefit of using various platforms in your practice. The more complexity in your overall software environment, the more likely that redundancy and inefficiency will creep in, result in each solution providing less than optimal benefit.   

ABELDent offers multiple capabilities for dental practitioners, including but not limited to easy patient messaging, simplified scheduling, templated clinical notes, detailed clinical charting, and extensive financial workflows. Let’s dig deeper to discuss why ABELDent is the all-in-one software your practice just might be looking for. 

Benefit from regular updates, and opt for auto-updates for simplicity 

Regular updates ensure your software runs as smoothly and as securely as it possibly can. As time goes on, cybercriminals adapt to new security measures and begin to pose as threats again,  which is why keeping any software up-to-date is essential. In addition to refined security, software updates ensure that your programs run smoother. ABELDent CS and LS+ users benefit from regular automatic updates, which means there is no work on the practice’s end to manually download recommended updates. 

Software that extends beyond charting and scheduling 

Using platforms from multiple vendors may result in weak integration, or declining levels of integration over time.  This can result in manual effort or data redundancy for your team, with each platform providing less than optimal benefits.  ABELDent benefits your practice with built in features such as patient messaging and patient-facing digital forms (see video below) that integrate seamlessly with existing patient charts. For instance, if a patient indicates a new medication or allergy on a health history form, all your team has to do is insert the new information into their patient file which then displays alerts on various screens throughout the program. That way, when your team and scheduling or preparing to treat the patient, the information to treat the patient effectively will be top of mind.  

Our video tutorial on using our completely secure, digital, touchless patient intake forms.

Practice management software that has multiple capabilities is a staple when you are searching for a new solution. (Read: Clinical Charting Features to Look For). Instead of worrying whether a scheduling software integrates with a separate clinical software, which also integrates with a patient communication platform, try a comprehensive solution with these basic necessities built in. Not only is doing this more cost effective, but also easier to manage. 

Avoid vulnerabilities with compliance 

As trusted healthcare providers, dentists have professional responsibilities to meet regulations related to patients and their secure data. ABELDent stays up-to-date with regulation changes that impact communication with patients, such as CASL, PHIPA, HIPAA, and PIPEDA. Incoming mandatory changes to governmental privacy regulations may affect ongoing routines and require new data be stored to ensure practice compliance. We provide the tools that allow your practice to easily comply with these regulations, regardless of your province or state. 

ABELDent makes practice management easier for you by offering benefits such as detailed periodontal and oral charting, seamlessly integrated touchless forms, and templated clinical notes that save your team’s valuable time. If you are interested in switching to software that is simple and easy to use, while continuing to expand the needs that can be met by a practice management software, contact us today. 

Practice Protection: How to spot a phishing scam

Internet-based crime has been steadily rising in frequency each year. Ransomware is becoming more common, notably at the same time as the pandemic’s height in North America. We have addressed the rise of online criminal activity in recent blogs, such as our February blog post discussing why cybercrime has become more prevalent.   

With the digitization of much of our everyday tasks, ransomware poses as huge risk to companies, healthcare providers, and even governments. COVID-19 resulted in even more digitization, and therefore a higher occurrence of cyberattacks. In this post we are expanding on our blog post from April 2020 to provide you with some updated advice on protecting your practice from ransomware.  

ransomware

While over half of the cyberattacks occurred via Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) servers, hackers gained access to servers via phishing (29%). Since dentistry is largely an in-person profession (aside from teledentistry), phishing is the most common way for hackers to access a practice’s data. These attacks can grant hackers access to your practice’s network, which makes your office extremely vulnerable to ransomware.  

Key point: be wary of links and strange voice messages  

Phishing and vishing are common attempts hackers make to gain access to your practice’s network. Both methods can be seen in a variety of ways – for example, hackers may impersonate someone you know to gain a password, account, or request you send them money directly. Cybercriminals also may appear to be from a government or financial institution, accusing you of being in trouble, or that you owe money. Any unrecognizable message from an unverified source should raise suspicions.   

If you suspect you or your office may have received a phishing email, there are multiple tells that you can look for:  

  • An urgent email from an unknown source – for example, someone you know contacting you claiming to be from a “different email or phone”)  
  • Emails requesting instant action, such as sending your password or confidential information immediately, or sending money right away. 
  • Links that don’t match what they are displayed as: if you are considering clicking a link in an email, always hover over the link before opening it. If the destination does not match the displayed link, do not click. 

There are more signs to look for, which are detailed in this PDF. If you want more information on ransomware in relation to dentistry, ADA has an informative post on ransomware and cyberattacks, and provides details on how you can avoid losing your practice’s data.  

We are always looking for ways to help your practice grow and succeed. Securing your office’s data is the foundation of a flourishing dental office. If your office requires backup services, consider ABEL RBS for your office’s security. 

Guiding Your Patients: How To Minimize Disinformation From Online Sources

One of the crucial roles of a healthcare provider is to ensure patient understanding, whether by dissipating false information for patients, or educating and explaining topics to patients. As of 2021, we are growing increasingly reliant on social media platforms and various websites for our social interactions, news consumption, and other major facets of our lives. While our growing connectedness via the Internet fosters an age of understanding, there are also more opportunities for spreading disinformation. Some statistics, tricks, tips, or other forms of media that may initially be harmless can be altered, or flat-out harmful practices can be shared. Some examples of this include skewed statistics, or “dental DIY” tricks that can cause repercussions.  

A concerning number of patients get their health-related news from scrolling through social media. Based on findings from Referral MD, 90% of surveyed individuals between the ages of 18 – 24 indicated they trust health information shared on social media platforms.  

COVID-19 has resulted in a lot of misinformation and confused masses. Different municipalities, locations, and sources have varying regulations and protocols, and many people are unsure of what is safe and unsafe anymore. Fortunately, your dental practice’s team can work to minimize confusion in your patients by utilizing emails, social media platforms, and in-person appointments. Keep reading to find out how to utilize these three methods to benefit your patients. 

Opportunities to educate your patient-base: 

1. Emails  

emails
Photo by Torsten Dettlaff on Pexels.com
  • Use emails to your office’s advantage by reminding patients of what they can expect when they come to their appointments. For example, if your waiting area is closed, remind your patients to wait in their car, or be prepared to wait outside. Remind patients of necessary pre-appointment duties, such as filling out a pre-screening form, and wearing a mask. 
  • If your office participates in patient newsletters, consider adding a portion dedicated to sharing accurate information and facts for relevant topics.  
  • Using a messaging software that lets you send automated emails with areas for personalization is a great way to connect to patients on a large scale, while also remaining time efficient. 

2. Social media 

social media
Photo by Cristian Dina on Pexels.com
  • We have touched on the ways you can use social media in previous blogs, such as encouraging healthy habits, and keeping up patient relations during lockdowns. 
  • Using social media prevents can help prevent harmful trends from occurring in your patients, depending on your practice’s following. Keeping on top of “dental DIY” trends and similar patterns can help your practice make relevant social media posts, as well as guide followers, and your patient base, in the right direction. 
  • Ensure that any information you post is appropriate and truthful. This may go without saying, but sometimes, unclear information can be misinterpreted, which can result in further confusion. 
  • Try to keep any posts simple, clear, and most importantly, trustworthy. Getting your information from reputable sources (such as collegiate institutes, trusted healthcare providers, government websites, etc.), or using your own knowledge as a dental professional, are good practices for ensuring you are doing your best to mitigate disinformation. 
  • Share useful information from trusted sources (examples above) as resource hubs for your patients.  

3. Appointments 

  • Encourage your patients to be aware of ongoing dental trends that tend to pop up every few years – for example, at-home whitening, at-home “braces”, etc. In addition to just being aware, patients should also know the dangers associated with participating in these trends, and the damage they could cause to their mouth and overall health. 
  • Be aware that younger patients may feel inclined to try these trends more than older patients, generally. Younger patients may not know these trends are as harmful as they seem. 
  • Answer any questions your patient may have, and if they indicate that they are interested in specific cosmetics (I.e., bleaching treatments), be sure to educate your patients on the dangers of at-home treatments. Any way you can educate your patients about the best practices for continuing their oral hygiene at home is valuable and will help mitigate disinformation. 

Why Cyberattacks Have Risen During COVID-19, and How to Protect Your Practice

As mentioned in previous posts, the COVID-19 pandemic opened the door for increased cyberattacks of all kinds. With many of our interpersonal communications moving online, hackers and criminals are continuously finding new ways to compromise our cybersecurity, and by extension, access our personal information. This problem goes beyond our personal devices, however, as healthcare-providers are a major target due to the valuable information that is kept on file. With countless breaches, ransomware attacks, and lost data, healthcare providers are turning to off-site backup services to ensure their patient and office data is safeguarded from threats.  

Dan Lohrmann wrote an insightful blog post covering the various topics under the umbrella of cybersecurity amidst COVID-19. Lohrmann summarizes that as much of the workforce shifted to a remote, virtual mindset, cyber criminals began taking advantage of the shift while most people remained in an adjustment period. In April 2020, WHO reported a higher number of cyberattacks on the organization’s staff, for example, via email scams. Lohrmann lists the many news articles that connect the vulnerability that the pandemic brought, with the increase in online criminal activity

While we have largely become used to regularly using virtual means for work, education, and socialization, cyberattacks still pose a massive risk to us. 

What does this mean for dentists? 

Your dental practice’s information is highly valuable to a hacker. Patient information, financial records, or even staff records can be used for malicious purposes in the wrong hands. While most of your work is done in-person, your computers can be compromised by something as innocent-seeming as an email. To ensure your data is safe from cyberattacks going into the future, ensure your team members are properly trained in cybersecurity. Social engineering, phishing, and vishing are all terms that your front-desk staff should be aware of. In addition to this, it is best practice to review and update this training at least yearly, and when there are staff changes or other major changes in your practice or more often if needed. Cyberattacks evolve as new technologies become implemented, meaning that your team needs to know what to look out for as hackers adjust their tactics. 

Another way you can protect your practice’s data is by keeping all computer systems, platforms, and software that your practice uses up to date with the latest versions. We spoke more in-depth on this in a previous blog post, but to summarize, software and system updates patch any insecurities that hackers may have found in between updates. These updates also are ever-improving security measures, so keep cybercriminals at bay by making sure your systems are not out-of-date. 

In addition to making sure hackers can’t cause any damage from the start, always have a backup plan in case of the worst possible scenario. If your office lost data, your practice could be significantly impacted for days, maybe even weeks, or even permanently, depending on the type and severity of the attack. Make sure your practice data is regularly backed up, either locally or in a cloud server. All practice data should be backed up, including all patient records, financial information, schedules, etc. Having a backup ready in case your office experiences the worst-case scenario saves you hours of distress in trying to get that data back or dealing with the repercussions if it is lost for good. 

In summary, prioritize your practice’s data security by: 

  1. Ensure your staff has up-to-date cybersecurity training regularly. 
  1. Keep your software, computer system, and all platforms up-to-date. 
  1. Back up your practice data regularly – either remotely (such as ABEL RBS, a remote backup service using cloud technology), or locally.