Is your dental practice at risk of HIPAA violations and fines? Likely it is.

Is HIPAA taking patient information at dental offices seriously? Absolutely. While many dentists let the bigger medical centers take the brunt of HIPAA’s enforcement, dentists are starting to feel the pain via hefty fines. There are many headlines that readout million dollar fines levied by Health and Human Services against hospitals for loss of patient data. A few of the top HIPAA fines for 2016 include:

  • Advocate Health Care $5.55 Million
  • Feinstein Institute for Medical Research – $3.9 Million
  • University of Mississippi Medical Center – $2.75 Million

Secondary health services such as physical therapy and dental offices are not far behind. In fact, dentist’s might be more at risk than are health facilities. One of the problems that dental offices face is that they are mostly electronic. Hospitals, on the other hand, are both a paper and electronic records system. With the modern way that medical information is created, charted, and then shared with other heath practitioners, it becomes easy to lose data or to breach HIPAA guidelines.

HIPAA dentists

Also, patients have access to their electronic files such as viewing lab results, notes from the doctor to patients, and a host of other information that HIPAA regards as private.
The name for this information is mHealth and it means mobile health. It is information that is accessible from mobile devices, and it’s a problem. How do you control it? Whose responsibility is it to create a security that protects data that is available from any mobile device? If you save your lab result to your mobile phone and that information is hacked, who is responsible? There is also the connection issue and how hackers steal data as it is being transmitted from one site to another – from the dental office to primary care physician, etc.

HIPAA in the Modern World

One of the problems is that HIPAA was created for a paper world and for electronic patient data created for use in a closed system – from medical records to the ICU or ER in the same hospital. It is through the advancement of technology that other possibilities open up to healthcare as it pertains to patient data. We now have the capability of ongoing medical records that follow us from medical practitioner regardless of where they are or with whom they are affiliated. That is a significant change, and HIPAA is lagging behind.

The Modern Dental Office and HIPAA

Modern dental offices are nearly 100 percent paperless. Patient information is electronic and shareable. 2016 was a huge year for HIPAA fines, and those fines are making their way to dental offices. These million dollar fines are a wake-up call for dentists. The question that dental offices and dental management firms should be asking is “How exposed are we?” That is not an easy question to answer because no blanket statement address this. This is a dental office by dental office issues.

eSOZO Computer and Network Services provides Managed IT services and can help answer that question. If you are interested in understanding how technology can protect your practice or chain from HIPAA, then us. For the fastest service phone: (888) 376-9648 We provide world-class IT services at affordable prices throughout the New Jersey community.

Author: Aaron White, Date: 31st January 2017


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