As the owner of Prosperident, a dental embezzlement investigation firm, I understand the importance of security for dental practices. One solution that practices may consider when protecting their patient and business information is switching from server-based to cloud-hosted dental practice management software.
Dental practices deal with highly sensitive data that is protected by HIPPA, and this should be a consideration when choosing your dental practice management software. Storing your important files in the cloud provides a number of security benefits, including:
- reducing the risk of server hacks
- preventing the need to back up data externally
- making it easier to perform discreet embezzlement investigation
- ensuring that software is always up to date
- improving network security
Thefts of Hardware
The cloud limits the potential damage from server theft of hardware; if someone steals a computer using cloud-hosted software, he or she won’t acquire patient information. With the street value of a patient’s health and insurance information being $50 or more, often the value of information far outweighs the value of the hardware that contains it, and this makes your computer hardware an attractive target for a thief.
No External Backups = Safer Data
Consider the case of a dental practice that lost an unencrypted USB stick containing private patient information as well as a copy of their practice management software. The breach was discovered when someone found the information on a torrent website, where patient names, social security numbers, addresses and more could be easily accessed by others.
While keeping backups offsite is important when protecting information, storing your data in the cloud is a more secure solution for the dental practice. This also protects information in the event of severe weather, fire or other disasters.
There are other backup-related benefits of cloud-hosted software. Because everything is hosted on the cloud, there is less risk of someone accidentally—or even deliberately—deleting data files.
Improved Embezzlement investigations
When my firm is asked to investigate potential embezzlement in a dental office, we are usually asked to ensure that practice staff are unaware that an examination is taking place. Maintaining stealth is more challenging when the practice is using servers to store data; however, with the cloud, we can simply ask the doctor to sign authorization so we can access the practice management software directly from the company maintaining it on the cloud.
With the cloud, you no longer have to install software updates.. This is important for a number of reasons, such as ensuring that you have the latest security fixes.
Improved Network Security
Every practice has custody of patient health and financial data that has to be protected. Firewalls are necessary to ensure that this information is safe; however, installing firewalls requires an IT team. Using the cloud simplifies your IT needs and ensures that the data is protected.
In the same way that using cloud-based software reduces your vulnerability when computers are physically stolen, it also reduces your exposure to those who attempt to steal your information by hacking their way into your network.
Along with the advantages of cloud-hosted practice management software, you should consider some of the downsides as well. For example, some practices experience issues with speeds, especially now that digital radiography images can also be stored in the cloud.
Practices with cloud-hosted software must always ensure that they have a backup should they lose Internet connectivity. There are creative ways to handle this problem, such as tethering with a cell phone; however, this also comes with slow speeds.
Are you using the cloud? Have you found that it has helped with your security concerns? I look forward to interacting in the comment section below.
About David Harris
David Harris is the CEO of Prosperident, the world’s largest dental embezzlement investigation firm. Prosperident’s team of specialized investigators consults on hundreds of frauds committed against dental professionals each year. Through his work, David has had the distinct pleasure seeing a number of embezzlers serve time for their actions.
David is a licensed private investigator with a graduate degree in applied mathematics and a professional accounting designation. He holds both a Certified Fraud Examiner designation from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and a Certified in Financial Forensics designation from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
David has spoken at regional, national and international dental conferences. He is a highly entertaining and engaging speaker who draws on a vast amount of experience in his field. You can see him at the Carestream Dental OMS Summit, which will be held from Jan. 24-25, 2015 in Atlanta, Ga.