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Most of us admit that HIPAA scares the crap out of us! It’s arbitrary, the program is often difficult to understand and can take a huge amount of time to maintain, and if we violate the rules, we can go to prison or get a fine of up to $1.5 million per incident. No wonder we’re all freaked out!
My experience that the best way to get your office in shape with HIPAA is to hold your nose and dive in! Truthfully, our perceptions about what we have to do are often worse than the reality. HIPAA in dentistry is often just common sense…always disclose the minimum amount necessary, never talk about patients outside the office, regularly maintain and upgrade your HIPAA program by doing regular risk assessments, make sure that patients’ information is as safe as possible, have business associate agreements in place, send people a copy of their charts when they request it (even if they owe you money), have a manual and have your HIPAA officer keep it current, make sure your computer hard drives are encrypted and adequate security measures are in place for your system.
Here is a great website you can sign up for and they will keep you up to date on potential HIPAA issues: (click here for the website) . It’s not specifically dental, so don’t let it freak you out, but it’s good to see what kind of issues are arising in the areas of HIPAA privacy and security.
Another great source of info is HIPAA’s question and answer website: (click here to go to HIPAA’s website) . On this website, you can type in a search term (like sign in sheets, for example) and it will show you all of the questions people have asked on that topic and tell you how the HIPAA folks answered it. You can also browse by category on the drop down menu. By poking around on this website, you’ll start to see that a lot of the issues we encounter are best handled by simply using common sense! It’s also a great source because you can often find the answer to questions you may be concerned about.
Hope y’all find this useful. Have a great weekend!