Most online services designed for medical professionals, like the eReferral Service, abide by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). This ensures the proper collection, use and disclosure of personal information in the course of commercial activities 1. The legislation’s intent is to protect the client and their personal information. When referring a client to another dental professional, dentists send their patient’s case file which includes personal and dental information, and every detail pertaining to their case. In other words, catnip for cyber criminals. With PIPEDA, dentists have a lower liability when it comes to sharing their patient cases with other healthcare professionals. Beyond that, the eReferral Service secures its information with encrypted data and with the help of IPSS (a leading-edge Information Technology security company) strives to guarantee the most robust software, hardware and infrastructure security. But, why is all this protection so important?
A New Age Crime Scene
Alarm systems, locked file cabinets and video cameras are what most people would think of when it comes to security in an office or private business. For dentists, their high end medical equipment- X-ray units, inter-oral cameras, etc- have long been thought of as the number one target for thieves. But today, a new threat is spreading like wildfire.
Theft has always been a favored crime. Now, it has moved on to the digital world. The healthcare industry is one of the most targeted and breached industry out there. Medical files contain important client information, such as name, birth date, social security number, credit card information and much more. In the past, the loss of data was mainly due to the loss or theft of USB keys and disks containing electronic patient files. Today, cyber security threats are becoming more and more widespread. However, many dentists continue to believe that their practice isn’t at risk.
“The common element in cybercrime operations is that attackers enjoy virtual anonymity and a low chance of detection.” 2
“Many hackers specifically target small dental offices because they believe that the small business may not have the resources for sophisticated security devices and do not enforce employee security policies.” 3
Indeed, why attack a distinguished medical or financial institute with top of the line security, when you can collect the same information from a dental office around the corner with half the effort? Small businesses with under 1,000 employees are the biggest target for cyber criminals. Generally, they maintain less powerful security protecting their database and with less patients, one could easily assume they won’t be a victim of cyber-attacks. The reality is, dental practices are at risk and must take measures in order to ensure adequate protection of their patient’s records.
The vital information stolen from the dental offices, is either sold on the black market for hundreds of dollars per patient file or used for ransom. But no matter its destination, the information is irretrievable. Clients are henceforth at risk of identity theft and the loss of their monetary funds and insurance claims. Their personal safety can also be compromised.
For healthcare professionals, data breaches can lead to federal and provincial monetary penalties and lawsuits from individual clients. These penalties can range anywhere from a few thousand dollars to a hundred thousand dollars depending on the severity of the breach. To make matters worse, regular insurance usually won’t cover this type of theft.
“A breach of cyber security will inevitably lead to significant expenses, both financial and reputational, which can wreak havoc on a dental practice.” 3
A strong encryption for data transfer and storage as well as firewalls and antivirus software are a must have for dental offices. Collaborating over a patient case can become unnecessarily complicated and dangerous. Online services provided for dentists must be up to date on all their powerful security systems. Laws and protection acts also aim to better preserve the information and the individual’s rights. The eReferral Service provides all the crucial security needed for referrals. Dentists can breathe easy knowing they are responsible custodians of their patient’s information.
Dentists can register for free for the eReferral Service by visiting www.ereferralservice.com/register.
For more information on how the eReferral Service ensures its secure patient case collaboration visit www.ereferralservice.com/private-information-and-the-cda-ereferral-service/
|Address: 100-5335 Canotek Rd Ottawa, ON K1J 9L4|