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September 26, 2023

Optometry, like any other health field, relies on processing a significant volume of confidential clinical data that continues to grow with the influx of patients. Increasingly digital, these data generally contain personal information (patient names, ages, and addresses) and sensitive medical data (prescription history, exam results, eye health or other health issues). Your database is also a source of essential operation info such as exams, appointment reminders, billing, and clinic inventory management.

The disclosure, loss, or misuse of this information could have serious consequences for patients and also jeopardize the reputation and business activity of your clinic. Therefore, data protection is a major issue and is of crucial importance to your clinic.

Internal and external threats to data security

Your clinic is exposed to various threats, such as incidents of material negligence or errors. A simple act by an employee can lead to partial alteration, accidental sharing, or incorrect handling of data, thereby jeopardizing your information. Similarly, an accident on the server could result in a disastrous loss of data.

But the challenges don't stop there. External threats are just as concerning. Violent weather events such as lightning, a storm, or a fire can cause physical damage to servers, resulting in the loss of valuable data. Worse, cybersecurity attacks and malicious software can also compromise data security. Hackers may attempt to penetrate your clinic's computer system to access your patients' confidential data, corrupt it, or cryptolock it to demanding a "ransom." We now know that in such situations, it's almost impossible to recover 100% of the information contained in the database.

Measures to protect clinical data

In the face of these threats, it's essential that you take the right measures to protect sensitive clinical data.

Firstly, make sure to inform all your staff about precautions to take to avoid common errors that lead to data breaches. Implement a robust password policy by asking employees to change theirs regularly and avoid passwords that are too easy to guess. To strengthen access security, consider adopting multi-factor authentication (MFA) and access management using permission groups to limit any abusive handling of data.

Next, ensure you conduct regular server maintenance to keep your databases safe. Keep your server in a secure, clean, dry, and dust-free environment, avoiding excessive exposure to heat. Regularly update Windows to address potential vulnerabilities (server and workstations), Install a robust IT security system (including an antivirus and firewall), and keep everything up to date.

Data backup is a must to limit any risk of business loss. Perform daily backups and regularly check their reliability. And for optimal security, consider backing up your data in an environment other than your clinic, such as secure cloud storage. This way, your clinic will have a reliable recovery plan and can continue serving patients without compromising confidentiality.

Remember, securing your patients' information means securing your clinic's reputation. Always take the appropriate measures.


About OSI Group

Founded in 1982, OSI Group is a leader in developing value-added services for independent optometry clinics throughout Canada. In addition to these services, OSI Group has develop Optosys Solution, a comprehensive clinic management software dedicated to vision professionals.

Always innovating, we exist to simplify your operations, elevate the patient experience, and champion independent optometry across Canada.

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