Dr. Robertson, now retired, was my dentist. He ran a modern dental practice. It was both hip and fun. First, the fun: he always made me laugh. Sometimes, he had to stop the procedure because I was laughing so hard. He remember details about my life, and so did his staff. Shannon, his dental hygienist, always encouraged my progress. How did they remember those details? Was it note taking, a great memory or a HIPAA compliant communications and patient relationship management system? I don’t know. But I always recommended Shannon and Dr. Robertson and his staff because they were excellent in all the ways that mattered. I left their office with a problem solved, a brighter smile and a lighter step. That’s the human “technology” of a great experience.
What’s hip is that they also used technology to set my appointments. The office sent emails to remind me of my upcoming appointments, and a few years later, based on my preference, switched to text reminders. Sometimes I got texts asking if I’d like an earlier appointment as they had an unexpected opening. And because Dr. Robertson knew I marketed cool technology he would ask me my thoughts about xyz software or technology tools he used. Thanks Dr. Robertson for being great.
Today the modern dental office uses digital patient relationship management (PRM) and HIPAA compliant communication platforms to help their practices run more efficiently. These systems save money, help staff fill empty seats, send appointment reminders to patients and more. Doctors can make calls from anywhere to their staff on their smartphones to relay patient information. Office managers can automate messages, send funny and informative texts and capture ways patients best engage. But all those digital resources must meet security standards to protect sensitive patient health information.
Meeting those security standards and HIPAA compliance is not complicated. The best technology providers ensure their systems meet regulatory requirements. Janice Janssen, a member of the Academy of Dental Management Consultants (ADMC), offers the following recommendations in her article: Tips for staying ‘hip’ with HIPAA regulations for dental practices:
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, such as Janssen or with the help of HIPAA compliance software.
Use a HIPAA compliant communication system
Ask your technology vendor to provide a HIPAA compliance business associate certificate. If they don’t know what you are talking about, you probably want to try another technology solution with the HIPAA expertise to answer your questions.
RingRx is a phone and patient-staff communication system that’s built specifically for doctors, therapists and providers of health services. RingRx delivers the quality, the value and the simplicity you desire and the security and compliance you need. To learn more, visit our website at www.ringrx.com or call 1-888-980-6860 to speak with RingRx HIPAA compliance certified customer service managers.