Due to its technical and often ambiguous language, complying with the HIPAA Security Rule can present some difficulty for dental offices. One easy solution to complying with the HIPAA Security Rule that is being widely adopted in all areas of the healthcare industry the implementation of a system of secure messaging.
Secure messaging is conducted within a private network only accessible by authorized users. It offers extra levels of security that common messaging systems, such as Skype, SMS or email lack, while also being very affordable to implement. The authorized users can access patient data and communicate it with other authorized users only after they log in to secure messaging apps which require user authentication via a unique centrally-issued username and password.
All patient data is encrypted at rest and in transit. Therefore, it provides a secure way for a dentist who is on-the-go and needs to share images or conduct video calls over public Wi-Fi services via a mobile device with a colleague or patient. The secure messaging apps can also be used on desktop computers, and a time-out feature automatically logs users out of the network when a computer or mobile device is unattended, to prevent unauthorized access to patient data.
In addition to safeguards that prevent patient data being saved to an external hard drive, copied and pasted or forward outside of the dental practice´s private network, the messaging platform through which all communications travel monitors activity on the network. Administrators can ensure that secure messaging policies are being adhered to, or PIN-lock an app if the device it is downloaded onto is lost, stolen or disposed of.
Additional Benefits of Secure Messaging
Secure messaging solutions are widely seen to have many advantages. One of the primary benefits they offer is the massive increase in workplace efficiency. Dentists can send and receive ePHI on-the-go using secure messaging, instead of having to wait to be at a desktop to log into a secure network. Images can be attached to secure messages, which can then be shared to accelerate diagnoses and the administration of treatment. Secure messages can also be used in scenarios where a patient cannot attend a dental office and their condition can be diagnosed at home or in another medical setting. Time consuming phone tag and the need for follow-up calls is significantly reduced due to automatically-produced delivery notifications and read receipts, increasing efficiency and introducing accountability in messaging.
Furthermore, when the secure messaging solution is integrated with an EHR, authorized personnel can load patient notes directly onto the system from a mobile device.
Your Compliance with HIPAA Rules for Dentists
Secure messaging solutions are not difficult to implement. As all communications and access to patient data goes through a cloud-based “Software-as-a-Service” platform, there is no additional hardware to purchase and no need to engage the services of an IT specialist to install complicated software.
As secure messaging apps have a text-like interface like commercially available messaging apps, so little training will be required before the solution is up and running and the HIPAA regulations for dental offices are being complied with.
Naturally, secure messaging solutions only take care of the requirements under the HIPAA Security Rule. Dental offices will have to research and adapt other privacy measures before they are in full compliance with the HIPAA rules for dentists.