Appropriate Cloud Usage: HIPAA and software

As dentists increasingly collaborate for referrals and to use external labs, transferring patient information between involved people has often relied on email. However, regular email is not HIPAA compliant and opens dentists up to fines and exposure. So what’s a dentist to do?

Luckily, cloud-based and HIPAA-compliant software is on the rise. Cloud based software often has light hardware requirements and a rapid learning curve (see, for instance, “Making it easy by using the cloud“).

Recently, Kathy Kincade’s article on Curve Hero, a web-based practice management system, and Brightsquid, a secure way to send files and patient information, indicates the growing market and concern around HIPAA and dentistry. Other web-based, HIPAA-compliant software is also available both to collaborate and to manage a dental practice.

As the ADHA said in their 2003 guide for dental hygienists,

“Dentists who choose to not comply can be hit with heavy fines and possibly jail time,” Harkleroad says. “Patients will begin hearing about HIPAA and their rights, and see changes at their doctor offices and hospitals. They will want to know why their dental office is not doing the same things, if it is not.”

Dentists need to embrace web-based technology that allows for quality of patient care, within the guidelines of the law.

Lessons Learned:

  • Regular email has not been legally compliant for sending patient data, X-rays or images for many years.
  • Web-based collaboration must follow HIPAA rules, or dentists can receive significant penalties.
  • Secure, HIPAA-compliant, cloud-based software is available. HIPAA compliance should be a requirement when selecting dental software.

Kincade, Kathy (2013) HIPAA concerns drive cloud-based data sharing. Dr. Bicuspid, Jan 30. Last Accessed February 4, 2013: http://www.drbicuspid.com/index.aspx?sec=sup&sub=img&pag=dis&ItemID=312541&wf=33

Ring, Trudy (2003) HIPAA and its implications for dental hygiene. American Dental Hygienist’s Association Access, April.