Want to rest assured your staff stay on top of protecting patient data in accordance with HIPAA? Many dental practices do an excellent job of training staff on HIPAA, but fail to enforce a regular system to ensure privacy is being maintained. We’ll discuss an effective, yet overlooked method thousands of dental practices are using to stay in compliance with HIPAA.
HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 was enforced to ensure patient information is kept confidential and secured. There are two primary HIPAA Rules:
Privacy Rule: This specifies standards for protecting patients’ health records and personal information.
Security Rule: Strict measures are required in securing all sources that collect, store, and transmit patient information, to preserve confidentiality.
Staff Training on HIPAA Rules
Staff training and enforcement are the initial foundations for establishing a HIPAA compliant dental practice. All staff members that come into contact with patient information should be properly trained on the acceptable and unacceptable measures of maintaining patient data privacy.
Training on HIPAA rules should be provided for all office staff, when policies are changed, and regularly throughout the year.
4 Tips for better staff compliance of HIPAA Rules
Comprehensive but brief, regularly scheduled HIPAA training sessions for staff are recommended for better retention of information.
Training should include regulations of patient forms, personal data, online/electronic communication, and proper response to a breach in security, or HIPAA violation.
Establish a paperless system of data collection and storage to avoid common pitfalls of unintended data exposure on paper forms, improper discarding of information, or lost files.
Embrace end-to-end encrypted communication tools that give patients convenience without compromising privacy or security of information.
Dental practices should remember that HIPAA rules exist for all facets of patient data collection, transmission, storage and communication.
Electronic Communication and HIPAA Rules
Patients are increasingly turning to smartphones as a means of communication via text, Email, and other routes. Dental practices find it important to stay on top of technology to accommodate tech-savvy clients, but must do so with HIPAA guidelines in place.
Secured 2-Way SMS and Email
Instant communication via text/email is a necessity for dental practices, to alleviate phone tag and to meet patients where they are in terms of technology. Using fully secured 2-way SMS and email for appointment reminders, rescheduling appointments, answering questions, and so forth are great HIPAA compliant communication tools if done with the right system and protocol.
Online Review Responses
Replying to online patient reviews is critical for showing concern about patient satisfaction. The importance of keeping patient information confidential applies when leaving online replies as well. Ensure that the individual leaving replies is fully educated on HIPAA rules in regards to safeguarding patient confidentiality.
Even if the patient’s review is negative, or unfair, be sure to keep in compliance with privacy rules to avoid being in violation of HIPAA.
Does Going Paperless Improve HIPAA Compliance?
Paper systems in dental practices have always had a disadvantage in being able to account for privacy and security of patient information. From onlookers seeing completed forms sitting on the front desk, to improper disposal of patient charts, paper systems can carry a plethora of privacy issues.
Paperless processes, on the other hand, have gained traction within the dental industry as a promising way to better maintain HIPAA compliance without the hiccups. Transitioning to paperless intake forms, for example, has advantages that far outweigh paper forms:
- Digital forms are completed and stored in a securely encrypted platform, which syncs into your practice management system, removing the potential for manual data entry errors.
- Only authorized staff members can access the portal via secured password entry
- A reliable cloud backup system is in place to save information
Safeguarding your dental practice from HIPAA violations can be done with reassurance by enforcing proper staff training and implementation of HIPAA rules, and via paperless solutions with built-in HIPAA compliant features. Privacy and security of patient information is a vital element of every dental practice.
mConsent’s digital solutions have been trusted by 5000+ practices, providing HIPAA compliant paperless forms, 2-Way SMS/Email, and many other efficient features that make life a breeze for office staff and patients. Learn how mConsent can keep your dental practice HIPAA compliant and automate your front office.