Best Practices for Patient Record-Keeping and Data Privacy – Part 2

  • Dental Administrative Assistant
  • March 22, 2024
  • 4 min read
Best Practices for Patient Record-Keeping and Data Privacy - Part 2

If you are a current or aspiring dental administrative assistant, dental front office assistant, treatment or benefits coordinator, or dental office manager, this article is for you! If you haven’t read our last article, check out Best Practices for Patient Record-Keeping and Data Privacy – Part 1 for a detailed description of the foundational best practices that we recommend you incorporate into your practice.

In that article, we established why it is essential to focus on patient record-keeping and data privacy (hint…it’s a lawsuit waiting to happen if you don’t!). We also identified how you can enhance operational efficiency as you comply with the highest standards of privacy and security if done properly.

We explored the significance of adopting secure storage solutions like Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems. We discussed how migrating EHR systems to the cloud provides convenience and reliability that legacy systems could not reliably offer. We also addressed how this shift to the cloud necessitates a greater focus by software providers and dental practices on incorporating advanced cybersecurity measures. 

Furthermore, we unpacked the concept of access controls any why they are so important with cloud-based systems. Cybersecurity practices mitigate the risk of data breaches occurring, while effective access controls supplement these practices to mitigate the scope of the damage that can be caused by a breach if one occurs. These measures are paramount in maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of patient information.

This article will walk you through the next major best practice we recommend that you incorporate into your dental administrative playbook!

Training and Awareness

There is some truly incredible technology out there in the world designed to keep your patient records safe. However, you can pay top dollar for the best solutions and still have a data break if your staff lacks proper awareness and competency while utilizing these solutions. 

Time and time again, it has been shown that human error is the single biggest cybersecurity risk factor for businesses, and this holds in the dental sector as well. Research indicates that up to 70% of data breaches in healthcare settings, including dental practices, could be prevented through enhanced staff training and awareness initiatives.

Clear Policies

The foundation of a cybersecurity prevention strategy in a dental facility is built upon the establishment of clear, comprehensive policies regarding the handling of patient information. These policies are vital to communicating expectations, aligning staff behavior, and ensuring the consistency of data privacy practices throughout the practice.

Regular Training

Establishing and communicating such policies is good, but it takes more than an announcement or a disclosure form in your new employee paperwork to ensure your staff adopts these practices. 

You must offer your team regular opportunities to participate in continuing education programs on data privacy and security protocols. You can review them together as a group, or they can work through asynchronous lecture assignments and quizzes offered by a third-party provider. Such programs ensure that staff are proficient in the latest best practices in patient data management.

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Phishing Scams Awareness

The dental industry, like every other industry these days, is subject to risks posed by phishing scams. Educating staff on recognizing and responding to such threats is critical to maintaining the integrity of patient data. 

Back to the point from above…human error is the single biggest cybersecurity risk factor for businesses. Many businesses use third-party providers to execute fake phishing campaigns against their staff to see who falls for these schemes so that remediation can be offered.

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The integrity of patient record-keeping and data privacy in the dental industry is foundational to maintaining patient trust and ensuring the efficient operation of dental practices. Despite being so simple on its face, this can be difficult to achieve in practice.

We have discussed how cloud-based EHR has resulted in a greater need to incorporate formal cybersecurity programs into dental practices, including the establishment of policies for responsible technology use by staff, ongoing training for employees, and robust access controls.

In the final segment of this multi-part article, we will explore the final set of best practices that will prepare you and your team to protect patient welfare, both in the dental chair and online.

Yu Lee
Healthcare Administration Program Chair

Born in South Korea, Yu Chung Lee moved to Las Vegas to attend Spring Valley High School and then UNLV. She is now a member of our educational staff and is the instructor for one of our dental administrative assisting…Read Full Bio

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