Security is at the forefront of everyone’s mind these days. Major organizations like Experian have been in the news because they were trusted with consumer’s information and violated that trust. Coming back from such a mishap is nearly impossible and extremely costly. While obvious organizations like financial institutions under scrutiny, as people begin to become more informed about web security they are starting to scrutinize nearly every website in which a transaction takes place.
And rightfully so. We live much of our lives online. And just as a person is cautious of how they interact in the real world, they need to be cautious to protect themselves from the online world.
Consider These Alarming Statistics on Internet Security:
- One in three Americans will be hacked
- 43% of cyber attacks target small businesses
- Over 75% of the healthcare industry has be infected by malware
- By 2020 the average cost of a data breach will exceed $150 million
Transactions are more than just sending money. A transaction includes submitting data of any kind. Medical and dental offices are under particular scrutiny because of the sensitive nature of the data they hold. It might be easy to dismiss this and simply avoid offering any sort of patient portal or secure email with patients, but in doing so you’d be missing out on a large target market of patients who want their doctors and dentists to offer their website as a two way method of communication.
The best way to ensure the data transferred between your website and servers is secure is through a security protocol called SSL – secure sockets layer. SSL is the gold standard in website security and is used by major financial institutions, government agencies, and online retailers. It’s allows you to offer patients a secure way to transfer information so that they get the convenience of being able to communicate without the risk of their information being stolen.
What is SSL?
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It’s a method of encryption that scrambles data being passed between a website accessed through a browser like Google Chrome and a server so that anyone trying to get a hold of it won’t be able to. If a person intercepts SSL data they won’t be able to read or understand it, which is what makes this security method so effective.
Website’s that are protected by SSL feature “https” in their URL instead of just “http”. The “s” is an important distinguishing feature that tells people the website can be trusted. Additionally, a secure website will also show a small padlock to indicate its security status to visitors.
Because today’s users are so savvy, they’re looking for these indicators of security.
Why do I need SSL if my practice is small?
Regardless of the size of your medical or dental practice, you hold sensitive information including social security numbers and private medical data. Remember the statistic above? 43% of hacks are on small businesses. Identity thieves aren’t always going after major online retailers or websites like Target.com, the recently hacked online retailer. No, they like to target small businesses because they look at them like low hanging fruit.
Your job as a business owner is to make sure you protect the data they so badly want.
What about HIPAA?
HIPAA covers all PHI – Protected Health Information. This isn’t limited just to facts about a patient’s health status. It includes things like appointment times and insurance information. If you want to offer your patients the ability to make appointments online or submit medical questions, it’s important that your website have SSL, which is completely HIPAA compliant.
This layer of security gives patients confidence in your practice and also helps decrease the risk of expensive lawsuits and fines due to HIPAA violations. Read about HIPAA compliance in this article.
SSL Improves Your Marketability
When a person visits a doctor or dental website, the number one thing their looking for is trust. If they can trust your practice, then they will not only choose you as their provider, they will also recommend you to friends and family. Utilizing SSL security tells them that you take their security seriously and are committed to offering the best website experience possible.
The more your patients see you as trustworthy the more likely they are to help boost your online presence. This results in more shares on social sites, better recommendations on Google and Facebook, and ultimately an increase in online leads.
By integrating SSL into your website you’re telling patients that you care about them and protecting their information. You’re building your reputation on solid ground that clearly communicates how your patients come first. This reputation is the best kind of marketing possible.