What Do Snowden and NSA Breaches Have To Do With Dentistry?

hippaBy: Mark Andrews, DDS – Cary, NC

In light of the recent security breaches with Edward Snowden, and the exposure of questionable practices by the NSA, nationwide regulations are coming more and more to the limelight. Though not to the same level, Dentists have responsibilities to be aware of client privacy, what personal private patient information, and what may and may not be utilized. The new Model Notice of Privacy Practices (Health Information Privacy) is currently published and available from the US Department of Health & Human Services. The regulation outlines to Dentists, as well as other health professionals, how they may use their client’s personal information, how they may send that information to others, and the controls that patients have with regards to keeping this information under control.

The ADA released new updates to its Practical Guide to HIPAA Compliance Privacy and Security Kit earlier this year in an effort to help dental practices to achieve compliance. A Dentist must ensure that they meet all of the new standards in order to continue to be HIPAA-covered so you can continue to take in patients who have insurance that qualifies for use in this act.

Dentists must comply the new requirements for the Notice of Privacy Practices while also revising your agreements with your clients to ensure that these new requirements are appropriately included in everything. These include “business associates,” a term that has been used in the past and has been expanded in definition.

The “harm standard” in this program has been replaced by a “compromise standard” and there are additional rules on how Dentists can sell health information to other parties. Dentists must follow this consideration in their respective offices as a means of protecting the information that clients have.

Dentists must also allow their clients to have the option to refuse to have their data sent out. This is because the new privacy practice allows patients to keep their information from being released after you have been paid in full by each of them. If someone has paid for their services then you can allow them to choose if they want to have their information sent out or if it’s to stay private. Additionally, Dentists are required to send more electronic copies of health information to their patients, if requested.

The key for using these points in the new privacy notice comes from how this information is used to help ensure that a dental health business will continue to operate appropriately. Dentists must ensure that the privacy of their patients is kept in check and that they will be aware of what they can do with their information if you want to stay HIPAA-covered.

Unlike Snowden, renegade offices with be held accountable for their actions, and can be shut down if compliance violations are serious enough.