Internet of Things benefits (IoT) can bring your clinic into the ‘now,’ but security is crucial on various devices to protect your practice
The internet of things (IoT) may not yet be a common household term, but in this current day and age, it’s all around us every single day. Simply put, the IoT is connecting everyday devices to the internet, and Internet of things benefits are many.
Examples of this can be things like electronic personal assistants such as Alexa and Google Home. Connect that with smart lightbulbs and you can control the lighting of your house with your voice or when you aren’t even home.
Our cars even fall into this category now. If you connect your phone and calendar to modern cars, they can see that you have a meeting somewhere and already load the route with the least amount of traffic. These are all examples of internet of things benefits.
The modern office is a great place to look for examples of the IoT and how they can help.
Internet of things benefits: time clocks and savings
If you’re not tracking your employees’ time to the minute, you’re likely losing over $1,000 per year.
Let’s say your employees make an average of $15 per hour and you have two full-time CAs. If their time cards are off by an average of 5 minutes per time card entry, you’re likely paying an extra 20 minutes per day in wages. That extra 20 minutes of wage per day works out to be only $5 per day. No big deal. But is it really no big deal? Assuming 50 weeks worked per year (two weeks vacation), five days per week, we get 50 weeks x five days/week x $5/day = $1,250 per year or just over $100 per month wasted. Now that’s a big deal.
Using a time clock that is connected to the internet and has a cloud-based application for reporting is an essential component to managing payroll expenses.
EMV or credit card terminals
When it comes to credit card terminals, the days of plugging into a phone jack in the wall are long gone. Modern terminals all connect securely to their gateways through the internet. More sophisticated terminals will communicate with a soft-ware application, further increasing their capabilities and security.
For example, a stand-alone credit card terminal that works independently of any software platform opens companies to the risk of fraud and embezzlement. It’s easy to process refunds on random credit cards when using such a terminal. Those refunds pull funds from your bank account and place them on the embezzler’s credit card. Then they go to the ATM and withdraw the cash.
Stand-alone credit card terminals are for mom-and-pop shops, not real businesses. It is crucial that the credit card terminal you use in your business does not allow refunds to be processed like that.
With modern processes you can give the permission to make refunds to an office manager, whereas the front desk person does not have that permission. In addition, the refund should only be allowed to occur against the original card used to make the purchase, preventing embezzlement, and the amount of the refund must be limited by the software to be no more than the amount of the original purchase. This is vastly more secure than leaving a stand-alone credit card terminal on your front desk where anyone could swipe a random card for a refund and steal from you.
Smart bulbs’ connectivity allows users to turn lights on and off using voice control or smart-home routines, or remotely through smartphone apps. No need to get up to use a light switch anymore — a simple command can turn on every light in the building.
Other benefits include: Energy Star-certified smart bulbs use 70-90% less energy; they last 15-25 times longer; many include motion-detection features to be turned on or off when people enter or exit a room, and also send motion-detection alerts; are easily customizable; and can change color or alter a room’s mood with settings ranging from bright and efficient to relaxing.
Patient education programs
Patient education programs are a great way to help grow your practice. There are a variety of ways to help educate patients and use IoT systems with a web-based educational TV program. With a small device that plugs into a TV in your reception room or treatment rooms, you can have new content each week. Plus, you can customize your own channel to further promote your services, products and events.
While your patients wait — even if it is only for a few minutes — they could learn something new or be made aware of a product or service they didn’t know you offer.
Internet of things benefits and security
With all these devices connecting to the internet, you need to take precautions to ensure you are not opening yourself up to security breaches.
According to the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP), here are the “Top 10 IoT Vulnerabilities” you need to be aware of:
- Weak, guessable or hardcoded passwords
- Insecure network services
- Insecure ecosystem interfaces
- Lack of secure update mechanisms
- Insufficient privacy protection
- Use of insecure or outdated components (software, third-party systems)
- Insecure data transfer and storage (lack of encryption)
- Lack of device management (security, updates, monitoring and response)
- Insecure default settings
- Lack of physical hardening (remote attacks or taking local control of a device)
Twenty years ago we never would have thought things like this were possible. Now, with the right precautions, taking “normal” devices and making them “smart” can save time, money and stress. Think of some of the devices in your practice that you can use to take advantage of these technological advancements.
Miles Bodzin, DC, is the founder and CEO of Cash Practice Systems, chiropractic’s No. 1 technology platform for creating loyal patients. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 877-343-8950 x200. Article contributions and additional editing by Amber Shepherd.