Tips for staying ‘hip’ with HIPAA regulations for dental practices

HIPAA compliance is more important than ever for dental practices. Don't let your practice management software be the culprit for your lack of compliance. Learn what you can do here.

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Technology allows you to run your dental practice more efficiently. But don’t let using technology put you at risk of violating HIPAA laws simply because you don’t understand how these laws apply to the digital dental office.

Becoming compliant isn’t as complex or stressful as you might think, but it does require an ongoing effort by your entire team. The following tips will help your office stay HIPAA compliant.

Create practice HIPAA compliance and security breach policies

Well thought out, written plans are needed to ensure that your practice stays in compliance. Your HIPAA compliance policy should clearly state the responsibilities of your office and each staff member in protecting your patients’ private health information. The policy should clearly outline how your office handles and remediates various kinds of security breaches.

Have a HIPAA privacy officer

The HIPAA Privacy Rule requires certain safeguards to best protect the privacy of your patients’ health information. One safeguard is giving someone the responsibility of overseeing and applying these rules. Large offices may want to hire someone to have this sole responsibility. If you have a small office with a limited budget, then you as the dentist or your office manager can assume this role. Whoever is assigned this job needs to be reliable and organized as well as fully trained on HIPAA laws.

Educate your staff on HIPAA laws

For your practice to stay HIPAA compliant, each employee must know what’s required of them to be compliant. Have your HIPAA privacy officer hold team trainings where employees sign a written agreement that states they’ve fulfilled the required training. Employees can help prevent HIPAA violations and keep the office compliant when they’re educated on what the HIPAA laws are and the consequences of being non-compliant.

Perform regular risk assessments

Security risk analysis is a critical part of maintaining HIPAA compliancy. This helps identify security vulnerabilities in your office and lets you know what actions you need to take to correct and prevent these security violations. Although you can perform these risk assessments on your own, oftentimes it’s more effective when performed by an outside expert or with the help of HIPAA compliance software.

Use practice management software

Practice management software is the heart of a dental practice. It’s what keeps an office running like a well-oiled machine. If you’re in the market for dental software, go to EasyDental.com to learn more about how an effective practice management software can promote HIPAA compliance.

By following these tips and making sure your team puts in the ongoing effort, you can help ensure that your office is HIPAA compliant.

Janice Janssen is a professional speaker, published author, and cofounder of Global Team Solutions, a practice management consulting firm. Janice has been a certified trainer since 2004 and was Instructor of the Year in 2012. She is a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), a member of the Academy of Dental Management Consultants (ADMC), and is certified with Bent Ericksen & Associates as an employment law consultant.

This article first appeared in DE's Expert Tips & Tricks. To receive practice management articles in the e-newsletter twice a month, visit dentistryiq.com/subscribe.

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