Picture the following scenario: One of your staff members working in the front office receives an email from regular contact. It may be a typical vendor who helps you purchase business cards. When they open the email and download the attachment, it looks like an invoice.
It seems okay, so they don’t take action against it, such as notifying the IT department. After a few seconds, you can’t access any of your practice management software. A patient is already in the chair waiting for service, but you can’t access their personal medical information.
Yikes! Your practice has become a victim of malware attacks or phishing scams. You can only get out of this situation by paying vast sums of money to regain access from the hackers.
If your practice is like many dental offices, you probably don’t have data backup systems in place. They use various non-reliable media like DVDs or CDs, and they don’t do backups all the time. When a disaster occurs, they get locked out of their systems, and there is not much they can do in that situation.
Understanding the various causes of dental office data loss will enable you to invest in suitable remedies to avoid such occurrences. Here are the top ten causes that everyone ought to know.
1. Human Error
The situation described above is a result of human error. No human being is infallible. Everyone makes mistakes, and unfortunately, some of the errors may come with enormous consequences.
Sometimes your staff can unintentionally delete a part of patient data or sections of information required for servicing your clients. It’s best to invest in proper training to ensure your staff handle data carefully and reduce the risk of human error. While at it, consider creating a functioning backup system to restore all your data in case of loss.
2. Viruses and Malware
Viruses are the most common cause of dental office data loss. They can infiltrate your systems and steal or delete data, bringing your practice down with no operational data. Viruses infect computers through email-based attacks or phishing that tempt employees to click and download, like in the scenario described above.
Guard your clinic against malware by installing anti-virus software which you will constantly update and run regular scans for the detected viruses before they can cause severe damage.
3. Hard Drive Formatting
If you accidentally format your hard drive, chances are you’ll lose tons of data instantly. It can happen to anyone when they misunderstand a system prompt or error message. Sometimes reformatting also leads to data loss, severing your access to the files you had. The only way to recover such data is by running data recovery software that sometimes is not 100% when some files are corrupted.
4. Hackers and Insiders
In recent years, cases of hacking and data breaches have increased dramatically. The trend prompted many online industries to invest in various cybersecurity measures to keep them safe. Hackers can access networks and cause severe damage to your data.
Sometimes, they can gain control of your systems, take over your data, and then ask for a ransom to release it. Minimize the potential of such losses by using firewalls to keep out intruders.
5. Software Corruption
Unexpected software shutdowns always seem innocent on the surface but can cause severe underlying issues for your data when not addressed effectively. Such problems occur due to improper shutdowns of systems that lead to data corruption or deletion of ongoing processes.
A corrupted software will not run again, meaning you cannot regain access to your data initially stored in that software. Employees should save all files and use safe methods to shut down computer systems.
6. Natural Disasters
The disasters range from tornadoes and strong winds to wildfires that come at the least expected moment. These disasters can destroy your computers, clients’ data, and the entire business infrastructure. You can recover from such a situation with remote data backup and recovery. Your data storage location will likely be in the cloud or remote areas beyond the reach of disasters that could affect your clinic.
7. Liquid Damage
Liquid substances such as coffee and tea top the list among many things that don’t go well with computers. Spilling water on your electronics causes short circuits, making it challenging to recover data initially stored on your computer. In some cases, computers may seem to continue working fine after a spill. Even then, the internal damage can have a lasting effect and cause computers to hang or short circuit in the future.
You can reduce these cases by keeping all your computer systems in water-resistant cases. When a spillage occurs, act quickly and dry the computer to minimize damage. Shut down, dry the computer, and seek help from a technician.
8. Computer Theft
The modern workplace is flexible, and many people work from home, using their laptops or phones to access data. Your staff will always have their laptops at home or on the road. If they lose these devices, you could lose data stored in them. You could prevent this by keeping systems with sensitive data in locked rooms for maximum security.
9. Power Outages
Power outages are notorious for shutting software systems down, leading to loss of unsaved data and data corruption because of improper shutdown procedures. The outages can happen unexpectedly, rendering entire programs non-functional. For example, when the computer is rewriting the hard drive system and the power goes off, it will not start again.
10. Hard Drive Damage
Dental office data loss can occur due to malfunctions on the computer hardware. Hard drives are the most fragile parts of computer systems and are prone to crashes. All it takes is dropping or jostling a computer, overheating, or overusing. Also, hard drives wear out over time and will eventually need a replacement. Changing your hard drives from traditional HDDs to SSDs can offer a more lasting solution.
Seek Expert Advice to Minimize Data Loss in Your Dental Practice
At Erickson Dental Technologies, we provide custom-built hardware to eliminate dental office data loss through hacking or malware infiltrating your system. By choosing us for your dental IT support, you and your team can avoid a few of the most common causes of data loss. If you’re ready to get started, we encourage you to contact ustoday to learn more about our solutions and how we can help your practice.