This pattern of data breaches is very concerning for dental practices, which are charged with protecting people’s most sensitive information. What can practices do to protect themselves against this growing problem?

There has been a surge in data breaches at companies from virtually every sector during the past few years. Practically every week, the news media reports new breaches that seem to be increasing in scope and severity.

This pattern is very concerning for the health-care industry, including dental practices, which are charged with protecting people’s most sensitive information. With copious amounts of patient data on file, many dental offices are sitting ducks in today’s perilous data landscape.

Unfortunately, this trend is getting worse, not better.

According to the Protenus 2019 Data Breach Barometer Report, “There was a small annual increase in the number of health-care data breaches, but a tripling of the number of health-care records exposed in data breaches.”

This presents a two-pronged problem for dental practices. First, HIPAA charges companies that are storing patients’ personally identifiable information (PII) to protect this data, and in many ways it’s a tangible expression of the Hippocratic oath in the digital age.

Of course, there is also an economic component. A data breach has devastating financial consequences for companies, costing them as much as 12% of their annual revenue to repair the damage. Although exact estimates vary, the average cost of a compromised health record is $380, meaning that a data breach executed at scale can quickly put a company out of business.

This is problematic for any health-care company, but it can be especially devastating to dental practices that store the same sensitive PII as large medical practices, but operate in smaller, less fortified digital environments. Fortunately, there are steps dental offices can take to protect their patients’ PII and ensure HIPAA compliance.

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