HIPAA Rule Change Puts Dentists at Risk

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Patient Attraction Episode 747

ADA News reported a clarification by the feds on HIPAA’s email security requirements for communication between dentists and their patients. At first look, it appears to be a plus for dentists, but the change could put dentists’ reputations at risk. I’ll tell you more after the break.

– I’m Colin, and welcome to the Patient Attraction Podcast.

– The recent change to HIPAA clarifies the transmission of protected health information to patients via email.

– Dentists must honor their patients’ encryption wishes and can’t force them to accept encrypted emails.

– The dental practice is still required to take reasonable security precautions.

– And to notify patients who decline encryption that their information could be compromised during transmission.

– However, if a breach does occur, the practice doesn’t have to notify the patient or the federal government.

– That’s both good and bad news.

– The good news is that you’re off the hook with HIPAA.

– The bad news is that patients are often unreasonable.

– And they’re likely to blame you – even if they agree, in writing, to accept unsecured emails.

– And disgruntled patients have a habit of complaining in public.

– This can damage your reputation.

– You have, or should have, a printed form explaining the potential risks of unsecured email.

– The form has a place for patients to sign acknowledging that they accept the risks.

– Given this HIPAA change, now is the time to review that form, and the explanation your staff provides with it.

– Make sure there are no gaps, no holes, and nothing unclear to patients about the risks.

– If you have concerns about whether your form is adequate, consult with your legal advisor.

– Join me for tomorrow’s podcast.

– Until then, keep moving forward.