Seven Tips for Protecting Your Business’s Data

It’s Monday morning. You arrive at the office early to get a jump on the week ahead. You log into your computer, take a sip of coffee, and suddenly you have a sinking feeling as you read the message on your screen: “All your files have been encrypted. Pay the ransom within 72 hours or say goodbye to your files forever.”

This is something no business owner ever wants to experience. Maybe you can afford to pay the ransom. Maybe not. Maybe the hacker will send you the decryption key. Maybe not. Maybe you can get by without those files and still stay in business. Maybe not.

What do you do?

Ideally, you’ll never find yourself in this situation because you’ve taken preventative measures. Sounds complicated, right? Yes, cybersecurity is complicated. It can also be overwhelming and expensive. It’s certainly not fun (well, for most people). And while there’s no guaranteed protection from these types of attacks, the good news is, a few simple measures can greatly reduce your risk.

Let’s put things in perspective: protecting your data is a bit like protecting your home. You have no way of knowing if a burglar will ever pay you a visit or how he/she might attempt to get in, so you’ll need to make some decisions. You already have locks on your doors and windows, but you may also choose to install an alarm system, or video cameras, or get a large dog. Maybe you’ll opt for all of the above. The point is, whatever measures you take are better than taking no measures at all.

When it comes to protecting your business’s data, leaving your front door wide open shouldn’t be an option. At least consider taking these seven basic steps to boost your cybersecurity:

1. Be smart about your passwords.

Use unique passwords for all online accounts, and remember that when it comes to passwords, longer is stronger. Passphrases that include upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols work well. Something along the lines of “I’m so glad 2020 is behind us!” is far more secure than “mary88.” Using unique passwords for different accounts is important so that a hacker can’t access all of your accounts if he/she gains access to one of your passwords. I know what you’re thinking: “But remembering all those passwords is way too difficult!” That’s where a password manager comes in. Password managers can securely store your passwords so that you no longer need to memorize them. LastPass is a good option, but there are many others out there as well.

2. Use multi-factor authentication where possible.

Huh? Multi-what?? Multi-factor authentication (MFA) simply means a user will need more than just your username and password to access your account. The most common form of MFA involves entering a 6-digit code that has been texted to your cell phone after you’ve entered your username and password. In this case, a hacker would need your username, password, and cell phone in order to access your account. This is an important layer of security for your most critical accounts, including your financial accounts, password manager, and yes, even your email.

3. Keep your software up to date.

When Windows says it has updates to install, don’t put them off. The same goes for your anti-virus software (more on that later) and the operating systems on your mobile devices. The bad guys continue to find ways to hack into various systems. That’s why software companies are constantly releasing patches to plug the holes that hackers have exploited. Be sure to help them plug those holes!

4. Install anti-virus software.

Microsoft Defender comes standard with Windows 10 at no extra cost. Symantec and McAfee are also good options. Choose your software, install it on every computer in your office, and keep it updated. This may be your last line of defense.

5. Never share credentials.

Assign unique accounts (email, practice management software, etc.) to all employees, limit their permissions, and NEVER share your passwords with them. If an employee leaves, disable his or her account immediately. A disgruntled employee with access to your accounts can do a great deal of damage.

6. Lock your screen.

Getting up to grab a cup of coffee? Press the Windows Key and L on your keyboard before you get up. It only takes a fraction second. Never leave your computer unlocked. Remember that disgruntled employee we just mentioned? Don’t take a chance—just lock the computer and re-enter your password when you return. Again, it only takes a second.

7. Educate your employees.

Countless ransomware (and other cyber) attacks begin with a simple phishing email. This is an email that appears to come from a reputable source, maybe your bank, a vendor, or even an employee. These emails typically contain malicious attachments or links, or in some cases, they simply aim to start a dialogue with you in the hopes of tricking you into giving up information (account credentials, social security number, etc.). Learn about phishing and educate your team. Talk about it often. Sure, your employees will probably get tired of hearing about it, but they also might think twice before clicking on a link that promises a $100 gift card.

There are many more steps that you can take to protect yourself and your business from cyberattacks (data backups, secure Wi-Fi, firewalls, etc.). And although no one is ever completely safe from cyber threats, every step listed above will bolster your security and reduce your chances of becoming a victim. You don’t need to have Fort Knox-level security—just don’t leave your front door wide open.

About the Author

Bob Lind is the Director of IT and Project Management at Consult YHN. He joined the company in 2011 and has over 25 years of experience in the Information Technology field. When he’s not trying to mitigate cyber threats, Bob enjoys wine tasting with his wife and playing lead guitar for a local classic rock cover band.

Why Externships Are a Win-Win for Students and Practices

Fourth-year externships are an integral part of any Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) program at an accredited university. But that doesn’t mean that externship programs only favor students. In this post, I’ll explain how the externship system is a win-win for both fourth-year externs and the clinics that employ them.

Side note: normally, externships for 2021 would be filled by now, but it’s not been a normal year. If you are considering an externship for the fall, now is the time to take action and start planning.

Benefits for Students

Most doctoral candidates in audiology are required by their institutions to complete a certain number of hours of supervised clinical practicum at an off-campus clinical site during a 12-month externship. This real-world, hands-on experience is crucial for audiology students to gain the necessary skills and knowledge to work with a variety of populations and disorders in different settings. It also helps them develop their ability to evaluate and integrate scientific research into clinical practice. In a nationwide survey, fourth-year audiology students ranked “scope of practice at the facility” as the most important factor in determining a desirable externship placement, followed by “type of facility” and “ability to work with other professionals.” I recently spoke to three four-year externs—two of whom work at VA hospitals and one at the prestigious Cleveland Clinic. Each student shared with me that their experiences helped them decide what they want to specialize in. Some of those decisions include treating adults versus pediatric patients, working in a more clinical (hospital, ENT) setting versus a dispensing environment (private practice), and determining what technologies/hearing aid manufacturers they’re most comfortable using. Students with an entrepreneurial spirit or interest in sales and marketing can choose to extern at private practice to learn firsthand what it takes to run a hearing healthcare business. This experience will either encourage their desire to open their own practice after graduation (and put them in a better position to succeed when they do) or confirm they’d be happier working for a hospital, university, or ENT. So, how does hiring an extern stand to benefit a practice owner or director of ENT clinic or hospital audiology department?

Benefits for Clinics

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national employment rate of audiologists is expected to grow much faster than average through the year 2028.
In fact, the BLS predicts that an additional 2,200 audiologists will be needed to fill the demand between now and 2028. That’s a 16% increase in job openings.
With this large disparity between supply and demand for audiologists, practice owners should do everything in their power to build a pipeline of potential providers. Employing a fourth-year extern allows a clinic to “test drive” a potential full-time permanent employee. That student can also bring in a fresh perspective from their schooling, especially when it comes to advances in technology. There’s a good chance that if the extern has a good experience, they will strongly consider staying at that clinic once he/she graduates. It’s important to note that each of the 70+ accredited Doctorate of Audiology programs in the country has its own established guidelines for clinics interested in becoming an externship site. This includes everything from the required number of hours of clinical experience students need to complete to the specific type of clinical work students need to be exposed to. Some universities require that supervising audiologists be ASHA certified (i.e. have a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association). Externship sites are not required to provide monetary compensation, however, most do and offer it in the form of a stipend or a regular paycheck.

Conclusion

The fourth-year externship has always been and will continue to be, a crucial pathway in the field of audiology. Students gain valuable practical experience after three years of vigorous study while clinics can closely evaluate someone who could be a key contributor to their future growth and success. It’s the ultimate win-win in a field that has a very bright and expanding future.
Still not sure if hiring a fourth-year extern is the right decision for your practice? Need help recruiting Au.D. students in your area? Consult YHN’s experienced recruiters can help! Talk to your Account Manager or contact our Recruiting Department today at recruiting@consultyhn.com.

About the Author

Ira Disman joined Consult YHN in 2011 as the recruiter for home office and field sales positions. He started his career as an agency recruiter in the insurance industry and then worked as a Corporate Recruiter for the PWC Consulting practice and the software company Synygy/Optymyze. Ira holds a bachelor’s degree from Babson College and an MBA (Human Resources) from Drexel University. When not working, he enjoys getting his money’s worth on the golf course by hitting many, many shots during a round.

Three Easy-to-Keep Resolutions for a Clean Database in 2021

How confident are you that your database is clean? Can you make accurate assessments about your business’s health with the data it contains? If you’re not sure, don’t worry—you’re not alone – not everyone enjoys data crunching, plus, Consult YHN has your back!

The importance of a clean database is that it allows your practice to operate more efficiently. As the leader of the practice, it allows you to set key business goals and effectively benchmark your progress towards achieving them. A clean database will support increased revenue by efficiently spending and/or saving money and improve patient satisfaction.

Think of quality data as the backbone of your business—it’s the central pillar that connects and supports all the facets of your business. With accurate data and reporting, you will confidently make decisions that will move your business forward.

What’s considered “data” within your database? These would be your appointment types, referral sources, revenue sources, etc. For example, are you running a Consult Database Program, Consult Upgrade event, or want to see how well your marketing campaigns are performing? Referral sources play a critical role in capturing your marketing ROI (Return on Investment) and identifying where your revenue-generating leads and sales are coming from. Referral sources should be labeled and updated properly so we can track your results and identify units sold and revenue generated per sale. If referral sources are not updated and tracked, you’re essentially throwing marketing dollars out the window.

There multiple benefits of tracking your marketing initiatives, but it is impossible without clean, consistent data. To run a productive and profitable practice, it’s vital to identify incorrect data, understand the root, fix it, and develop a plan for maintaining a healthy, more reliable database.

As we prepare for 2021, below are three resolutions for cleaning up your database, which will ensure it stays clean even after your other New Year’s resolutions have been forgotten:

1. Data Entry

Of course, it all starts with the data that’s being entered into the system. If there’s one takeaway from this blog post, it should be this: your data is only as good as the data you enter. As the leader, it’s up to you to ensure your employees are properly trained and understand the importance of entering accurate information into your Practice Management System (PMS). Everyone on your team needs to be on the same page when it comes to activities such as labeling opportunity sources and what each referral source represents. Once you have a process in place, don’t assume everyone is following it, day in and day out. Periodically poke around your database to ensure that it’s kept nice and tidy.

2. Data Audit

Second, audit your data to reveal any inconsistencies and/or errors. You might be surprised by the number of inconsistencies and how far they go back. If you and your staff are regularly inputting incorrect or bad data, this will cause a snowball effect—and no one wants a database full of duds! Once corrected, this will establish trust within your data. Our Sales Analytics team can help you get started by performing a PMS Analysis. This will help you get the most out of your PMS software by ensuring accurate tracking reports, patient lists, and QuickBooks integration.

3. Data Upkeep

The last step is upkeep. As previously noted, ultimately, you are accountable for monitoring the accuracy of your data. It’s not a ‘set-and-forget-it’ activity—consistency is key! Luckily, you don’t have to do it all alone. Working closely with your Account Manager, our Sales Analytics team will provide the insights and tools necessary to execute these steps and contribute to your business’s collective success rather than hindering it.

Remember: the more time you spend tracking and auditing your data today, the less you’ll spend correcting errors in the future. The reward for your hard work is a sparkling database that delivers better insights, better reporting, and sound business decisions.

Click here to learn more about Consult YHN’s Business Services and Financial Analyses or talk to your Account Manager today to get started!

About the Author

Laura Kegelman joined Consult YHN in 2018 and currently serves as a Strategic Planning Analyst. Her diverse professional background includes supply chain, forecasting, and marketing. Laura holds a degree in marketing from West Chester University in Pennsylvania. When she’s not working, Laura loves exploring the city she lives in (Philadelphia) as well as traveling to new cities and countries.

Beyond the Resume: Finding the Right Candidate for Your Practice

There is more to recruiting than combing through a stack of resumes. Anyone can look good on paper. There are countless websites and resources devoted to helping job seekers paint their best selves on paper. It’s also easy to embellish or, even, lie on a resume.

Consult YHN’s recruiting team prides itself on being expeditious yet thorough when filling vacant positions in our practices. Our screening process begins with reviewing a candidate’s resume to consider his/her education, skills, and professional background.

However, it’s all about looking beyond the resume to discover the person behind it. This is the only way to gauge if a candidate will be a long-term asset to your business. Too many hiring managers overlook exceptional candidates simply because they don’t check off every box on their “must-have” list or fit their idea of “the perfect candidate.” One thing I’ve learned over the past 15 years of recruiting for Consult is that the best person for the job is not always the person you’d expect.

Below are six tactics we recommend to our Associates to help them identify the “right fit” for their practices.

1. Keep an open mind, especially when hiring for non-clinical roles.

You’re casting a very narrow net and potentially missing out on great candidates if you’re only willing to consider people with experience working in an audiology practice or the medical field. Over the years, I’ve placed numerous candidates in our practices with no prior industry experience who have developed into rock-star employees. For front office positions, I’ve had great success with candidates with sales and/or retail experience (more on that later).

There are five main questions you should answer before extending an offer—this is what matters the most:

  • Can the candidate do the job?
  • Is the candidate motivated to do the job?
  • Is the candidate interested in learning new skills?
  • Is the candidate coachable?
  • Is the candidate a good culture fit?

2. Hire for personality over competency.

If you’re a busy practice looking to fill a position quickly, it’s understandable that you’d want a candidate who can hit the ground running. But there are drawbacks to only interviewing based on skillset. Skills can be developed— however, traits, attributes, and attitudes that often make a candidate successful cannot be taught—they either have them or they don’t. Studies show that most new hires fail NOT because of technical competence (skills) but because of other factors relating to emotional intelligence (EQ).

EQ is that hard-to-describe, special something in a person that affects how they make decisions and navigate complex situations. When vetting a candidate, be sure to look at the following traits which are predictors for high levels of EQ:
  • Ability to learn and adapt to change
  • Response to stressful situations and constructive criticism
  • Teamwork and social skills
  • Integrity, honesty, and empathy
  • Determination and drive for success
  • Accountability/ownership of responsibilities
In the long run, practices are better off taking the time to properly onboard and train employees. Consult YHN’s weekly teletrainings and Employee Development Program (EDP) can ensure every member of your team has the skills needed to be effective in their roles.

3. Ask behavioral questions in your interviews.

This is the best way to get a feel for a candidate’s EQ. During interviews, ask candidates a question relating to conflict resolution. For example, “Tell me about a time that you had a disagreement with a co-worker (or customer) and how you resolved it?”

Then, consider the following:

  • Did they know what they did wrong?
  • Did they control their emotions/anger?
  • Did they really understand the other side?
  • Why did they seek to resolve the conflict? Did they engage for the right reasons?
  • How did they solve the issue? Were they mindful of the outcome or social cost?

When interviewing candidates with a sales/retail background, my ears perk up if they mention going out on the floor and approaching customers to help them with their purchases and/or upsell them on products (thus producing more sales for the store). I also make a note if they mention staying late, working weekends and holidays, or coming in when coworkers call out. What this says to me is that this person has a strong work ethic, is driven to succeed, knows how to be a team player, and can be flexible.

4. Ask more than just questions.

Incorporating role-playing exercises in your interview process will give you a better idea of how a candidate will perform in the role. If you’re hiring someone to answer phones, have him/her answer a mock phone call during the interview. Or, pretend to be a difficult patient in a common scenario and pay close attention to how well the candidate fares under the pressure.

5. Try to remain objective and elicit feedback from others.

There are dozens of unconscious biases that affect our judgment every day. We’re genetically programmed to like people who are like us and fear those who are different or unfamiliar. If a candidate reminds you of an employee you’ve had a positive or negative experience with previously, there’s a good chance it’s going to color your opinion of that person.

The easiest way to prevent biases from clouding your hiring decisions is to: A) be mindful of them, B) seek out other people’s opinions, and C) follow a uniform process in how you assess and interview candidates.

One of the benefits of working with Consult Recruiting is that we provide feedback for every candidate we screen. We also work with practices to develop core competency models and interview and assessment questions, all of which can help ensure your hiring process is fair and that every candidate is held to the same standards.

6. Pay attention to the details and focus on the facts.

Many job seekers are going to say whatever they think employers want to hear in interviews. Employers also tend to favor the most charismatic and well-spoken candidates. That’s why it’s important to try to read between the lines and look for concrete evidence wherever you can.

A few examples:

  • Take note of how long they worked for their past employers. Do they have a pattern of bouncing from job to job quickly or committing to jobs for a long time? Also, is there any overlap? Did they ever juggle two jobs or an internship/externship and a part-time job?
  • Ask for examples of specific achievements. How exactly did they engineer those achievements? Do they have any numbers to back up their claims?
  • Pay attention to the questions they ask. Are they insightful? Do they suggest the candidate is enthusiastic about the role? Did the candidate clearly research the industry and/or practice?
  • Read their body language. You can learn a lot about a candidate’s personality and level of interest in the opportunity from their gestures, posture, facial expressions, and eye contact.

Your employees are your most valuable asset. Behind every successful practice is a high-performing team of engaged and motivated individuals. That’s why it’s critical to make the right hiring decisions. Sometimes that means thinking outside the box and choosing a candidate who has the attitude and personality to positively influence your company’s culture over the most skilled and experienced candidate.   

There are a lot of diamonds in the rough—you just need the right lens and a little bit of polish to find them.

Find the right candidate for your practice!

About the Author

Dawn Bauer is a Senior Recruiter who has been with Consult YHN since 2003. Previously, she spent 15 years working in banking and accounting, including 2 years in Consult YHN’s billing department. When she’s not at work, you can find Dawn either on the beach, in a shoe store, or at a concert.

Four Fundamentals for Building a High-Performing Team

Managing an effective team requires several competencies and begins with the core values of the leader. These values set the tone for what’s needed to perform at a high level. Leaders must establish expectations from the beginning with their team. It’s key for you to outline what’s expected of your team and how you plan to hold them accountable.
As you begin to build your team, finding out what motivates them and which levers to pull will be key to driving higher performance. As a leader, you need to provide your team clear direction, a roadmap, and support and ensure they understand their growth potential. As a leader, there are four building blocks to consider in building and managing a high-performing team:

1.Culture

Culture is something that you can’t always see, but you can feel it. It’s often in the intangibles, the little things. Building a culture starts with building a TEAM, itself. It’s important to create an environment where everyone can thrive and be collaborative. Establish opportunities for your team to work together and understand each other’s roles right off the bat. These projects will help galvanize the group. Part of a performance culture is setting up a winning mentality. Confidence breeds success, and the more wins your team can attain, the faster you create a culture of winning. This also allows employees to gain ownership over their success. No matter the field of work, everyone wants to be part of a winning team and have ownership in it. So, establish some easy wins for your team!

2. Accountability

Accountability, like culture, must be instituted from the outset. Accountability is being consistent—consistent in your actions and your words. Lead by example – do what you say you’re going to do, and your team will, too. Setting clear and attainable goals is equally important to maintain and cultivate the buy-in culture you are trying to establish. Furthermore, when you set expectations, it is imperative to assess what you expect and provide timely feedback. This should be done through regular one-on-one meetings as well as throughout the day. Be sure to provide positive feedback on the activities your team is doing well. This will lend more weight when you must focus on areas of improvement – which is often more difficult to deliver, but important in terms of development and growth.

3. Motivation

Finding out what makes each of your team members tick is critical to creating a high-performing environment. As a leader, you will be part cheerleader, part coach, and even sometimes part psychologist. Finding out what motivates each individual is how you will unlock a higher level of performance from your group. Utilize one-on-one meetings to engage and learn more about your colleagues. Motivation can come in many forms, whether it is professional advancement, monetary gain, or the love of competition. As a sales manager, I create excitement and healthy competition amongst the group. You must give your team a reason to come to work, beyond the paycheck, if you want to see their performance increase.

4. Development

Developing your employee’s skillsets so they can perform the best in their current role and challenging them with stretch assignments is a major piece of team building. As a leader or coach, it’s important to look at each day as an improvement opportunity for yourself and your team. Identifying potential leaders within a team is key to an organization sustaining a competitive edge. You cultivate these individuals by delegating tasks, creating open forums for ideas, and communicating your vision of a collaborative structure. Challenge your employees, provide them an opportunity to step up and take on leadership responsibilities. Not only does this reinforce your confidence in them, but it also gives them a sense of what a leadership role entails. The open forum provides a space where each of your employees have a voice and can be heard. It also allows them to take ownership in the team’s endeavors and/or demonstrate leadership amongst their peers.

Everyone will have different ways to lead a team, but these four core tenets transcend across industries. Ultimately, communicating a clear vision is paramount to gaining buy-in. You need everyone pulling the rope in the same direction to achieve an exceptional level of performance. 

For help building and developing a high-performing team, trust Consult YHN’s industry-leading HR & Recruiting Solutions. Talk to your Account Manager or contact Recruiting@ConsultYHN.com today!

About the Author

Robert Strother has been the Inside Sales Director at Consult YHN since 2016 and has over 10 years of sales leadership experience. In that time, he has led high performing sales teams across an array of industries and developed multiple future sales leaders.