Friday, September 12, 2008

Protecting Your (Digital) Image

Data Security at Pearson Facial Plastic Surgery
While the public often considers "before and after" pictures to be the stock-in-trade of plastic surgery, there are few things more personal and than one's picture. That's why we take data security very seriously at Pearson Facial Plastic Surgery™.

In fact, before and after photos are an important part of the medical record even for patients who do not consent to have their photos displayed. We use them to document the success (or failure) of our procedures, to learn from, to teach from, and even to protect ourselves legally. And digital pictures offer many advantages over traditional film when it comes to clinical photography: we like that digital images are immediately available, are readily backed up, are searchable, and take up very little physical space. They don't fade, or warp, or scratch.

But digital data of any sort is also potentially vulnerable to theft, deletion, data corruption, crashes, and loss...any of which could be devastating to both patient and practice.

With that in mind, we think that we've implemented a best-practices system for our patients' pictures. Here's a snapshot (no pun intended) of what we do to keep your pictures safe:
  • The memory card and camera are never left in the office over night.
  • Only the most reliable memory cards are used (e.g., Sandisk Extreme III SDHC, at the time of this posting).
  • All images are stored on a hard drive off site.
  • The hard drive itself is backed up automatically to an external drive every hour.
  • Images on the primary drive and the backup drive are strongly encrypted with AES-128 encryption (a standard strong enough for U.S. government encryption of classified data).

Of course, in medicine and surgery we never say never. Data loss is always possible, and no practice can guarantee data security, but we'd like to think that we've done better than most to protect our patients' images.

As you consider which plastic surgery practice you'll trust with your personal information, you might want to find out how they'd protect your pictures.

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