Secure-Mail Protects Dentist-Patient Confidentiality

Many of the work processes in dentistry are from the era of dentists meeting patients in the exam room, recording items on clipboards, and calling other dentists or doctors where necessary. Trust is and always has been a cornerstone of the dentist-patient interaction, but in the digital era, that trust goes along with a culture of data sharing.

High quality digital imaging available for consultation, patient records and doctor collaborations allows dentists to participate in the ecosystem of health data around American patients. As the oral-systemic health connection continues to be recognized, collaborative tools and demands will keep pace with technology and allow dentists to communicate patient data to interested parties.

But protecting the patient’s trust, and personal data, requires specific steps to protect and safeguard that data. Between HIPAA, HI-TECH and PIPEDA, regulations continue to develop and constrain what can be shared, and how. Many dentists do not realize that emailing referrals or images to laboratories can be illegal and break HIPAA compliance.

Software and technology have stepped into this gap. Secure email is offered by different providers to allow dentists to safely, securely share information without breaking the law or compromising patient trust. These out-of-the-box solutions offer immediate compliance and security, operating with existing clinical and practice management systems. Examples include BrightSquid’s Secure-Mail, and RecordLinc‘s referral services. Dental practices can modify behaviors and learn to operate in a HIPAA-compliant fashion, but for those short on time, a technology solution may be a faster and more realistic step.

Lessons Learned:

  • No conventional email solution is secure or compliant for transferring or accessing patient information.
  • Out-of-the-box secure communications systems can be added to existing software to meet HIPAA and patient privacy needs.
  • Collaboration and patient data sharing is likely to continue to rise.