- PERCEPTION IS GREATER THAN REALITY
The tremendous spike in Zoom usage during the COVID-19 lockdowns has exposed some critical security vulnerabilities, resulting in the data hijacking scandal known as Zoombombing. It should be noted that there are certain user settings and parameters that businesses could adjust to allow for added privacy and reduce the likelihood for an unwanted person(s) to hack into the Zoom session.
At this point, Zoombombing has become such a big story nationwide that even though these security concerns are not necessarily all Zoom’s “fault”; the public perception has been swayed. As the owner of an aesthetic practice, you need to put yourself in your patient’s shoes:
- they have almost certainly seen some sort of headline about Zoom hacking and privacy breaches;
- they have most likely seen that the New York school systems, and other organizations, have announced they are moving away from Zoom to another platform in order to put everyone at ease;
- they probably have NOT, however, read up on the full details of why Zoombombing occurs, the improvements Zoom has been working on, etc.
Rather than add to your patient’s anxiety levels by sending them a Zoom invitation, the best strategy at this point in time is to use an alternative solution for your virtual appointments.
2. HEIGHTENED SENSITIVITY DEMANDS PROFESSIONAL SOLUTIONS
Although schools and businesses exchange information that requires privacy during their Zoom sessions, patients of plastic surgery practices and medical spas understandably carry a completely different set of privacy concerns. Virtual consultations and follow-ups can often involve very private, sensitive areas of a patient’s body. A breast augmentation patient will be more apprehensive about a possible Zoombombing than a dental patient.
Being empathetic to these type of concerns is critical during this unprecedented pandemic our society is facing. A certain level of trust must exist between a provider and their patient; you don’t want to cause your patients to question that trust by utilizing a virtual meeting software that has such negative publicity around it at the moment. The best telemedicine solutions are an integrated extension of a practice’s software, and are inter-woven throughout the ENTIRE patient journey. A plastic surgeon or medical spa is in a very unique medical realm, in the sense that they operate in an elective industry. Patients have a growing option of choices for who to patronize. Every little thing can impact the decision of a patient on whether to trust your practice or to go to a competitor. It is critical that your business conveys the appearance of a professional, high-end destination that is prepared for the “new normal” that COVID-19 will bring.
Although it was more tolerable to rely on FaceTime or Zoom at the very beginning, as the Zoombombing situation has displayed, we as a society are evolving rapidly regarding our understanding of, and tolerance of, virtual meeting platforms. Now is the opportunity for your practice to demonstrate that it is a leader in the future of aesthetics, and that it is a high-class, well-oiled machine that patients can have complete confidence in. That starts with your practice software.
3. HIPAA ISN’T GOING ANYWHERE
Contrary to what many may be hoping, this very temporary lifting of HIPAA restrictions is not some free hall pass for you to purposefully make all type of PHI violations. We are currently facing a global crisis, a pandemic the likes of which has not been seen in our generation. It is important to remember, however, that COVID-19 will not remain a “crisis” forever. It may last a few more weeks; it may last a few more months; maybe longer. The “crisis” status will end, though, at some point in time.
The temporary lifting of HIPAA regulations was done in order to allow doctors and patients, particularly in remote areas and in urgent need of care, to get through this immediate time of crisis. While you may be allowed to use other non-HIPAA virtual appointment options such as FaceTime or Microsoft Teams (formerly known as Skype for Business), the window is closing with every passing day. These are stop-gap band-aids that should not be considered permanent solutions.
Zoombombing is the first of many eye-openers that we will bear witness too as the need for virtual appointments and virtual meetings becomes an ever-more-present requirement of our daily lives post-coronavirus. Ignorance is, and has never been, an acceptable excuse. The general public is making their voice heard very loud and clear: they demand professionalism, safety and data security in this new telemedicine age we live in. Their patience is running thin; don’t ignore these warning signs that we as an aesthetic industry are witnessing right now.