Do's and don'ts for protecting your patients' privacy

2016 11 18 14 42 01 206 Practice Success2 400

Practices that fail to protect their patients' health information could end up facing severe penalties and fines, which can have far-reaching effects for years to come. Be sure to take a proactive approach and put proper protections in place to provide your patients with peace of mind and keep your practice in compliance.


Know what is meant by protected health information. Some practices think that protecting patient privacy is limited to masking basic information such as names and Social Security numbers. In reality, it applies to any information that is personal or unique to a patient. This could include patient phone numbers, emails, addresses, etc. According to HIPAA rules, contact information is equal to medical information and must be guarded and protected.


Don't forget to watch your passwords. Some passwords must be shared for the efficient use and access of common office software and systems. For greater security, your rule of thumb should be that the fewer number of people with access to confidential patient information the better. This decreases the likelihood that anything will accidentally or deliberately leak from the practice.

Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the CEO of Levin Group, a leading dental management consulting firm, and one of the most sought-after speakers in dentistry. Dr. Levin has authored 65 books and more than 4,000 articles on dental practice management and marketing. You can sign up for the Levin Group Tip of the Day.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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