By Dimitry Shuster
The New Year is all about setting goals in order to make improvements to enhance your organization. So to get in the spirit of 2016; start by getting ahead of your competitors and enhancing patient satisfaction while maintaining a prestigious reputation that differentiates you from every other office. What better way to accomplish this than updating your patient file-sharing methods.
Let’s take the example of a dental office. Using the Internet is the most convenient way for these offices to share patient information. There is nothing wrong with using the Internet, but it is how we use it that is imperative for ensuring complete patient confidentiality and satisfaction. The problem with using the Internet and email is that it isn’t difficult for information to fall into the wrong hands. To maximize patient security, all dental offices should begin switching over to secure file-sharing software.
It is important to understand the benefits not just for the patients, but also anyone in the office who would be in charge of sending and receiving information.
Secure Email Communication
It is no surprise that stored data is safer than data in transit. Any type of business with secure data saved on a computer will have firewalls, secure servers, and networks to ensure that the information cannot be hacked into. Not only are firewalls protecting patients’ medical files, but their personal information is also stored on the computer, which if fallen into the wrong hands can cause problems for patients. So why is it that we take so much time and effort to find the right firewall, but yet willingly send information through traditional email, which is not protected at all?Taking the time to get secure file-sharing software creates a safe connection between the sender and the receiver of the information, encrypting the connection from end to end, preventing any loss or modification of information while in transit.
Upgrading from email to secure file sharing also benefits the dental office because now there is a more reliable way to keep history reports of referrals, notes, and activities for quick reference. Having a history report allows account holders to view and track patient referrals,receive instant notifications about new referrals,get status updates to existing referrals through an account portal, and email alerts and request read receipts to confirm that referral cases were viewed by the recipient within a 24 hour period.
Keeping detailed logs of everyone who accesses, sends, or modifies patient data helps if by chance there is a security breach because it becomes easy to figure out who is responsible, take action against the specific attacker, and make the necessary modifications to ensure that no one can access your data that way again.
Time Equals Money
Importing a referral case and downloading it to an office computer is not something that can be done quickly. It takes time and patience to download and send patient files, which some dental offices don’t have time for. With the use of secure file sharing, anyone in the office can import a referral case in less than 60 seconds. Having the ability to speed up sending patient files saves time for a dentist and patients. The faster patient information can be sent, the less time that patient has to wait to get their next appointment.
Direct Software Integration with Complete Patient Care Cycle
Different file-sharing software will integrate with different practice management and imaging management software. It can take some research to find the best fit for your practice, but at the end of the day it is worth it. Having an integrated system for your practice saves time and money, increases business productivity,and improves data accuracy. Software integrators make it easy to send, receive, and update referral cases.All-in-one referral systems allow multiple practices to benefit from instant access to exchanged patient health information without having to worry about different dental software formats. Some integrators even offer built-in written order forms to help streamline the referral process and maintain consistency in record keeping. Secure filesharing will take your practice a step closer to a paperless environment, which also saves money and helps with organization.
Under the Healthcare Industry Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA),dental offices must develop safeguards to protect electronic patient information.The purpose of the Security Rule safeguards is to protect the confidentiality—people can’t access the information if they are not authorized to do so, integrity—data is not corrupted or changed without authorization, and availability—authorized individuals may access information whenever it is needed, of electronic patient information. Failing to abide by these rules can result in fines of up to thousands of dollars to each violation. Spending the money for a secure file-sharing system now ensures that you keep your practice from paying these fines in the future.
Not only will your practice save money, but you will also save your reputation. Money can always be made again, but a reputation stays with a practice forever. In a practice, the provider would be completely out of the job if he/she did not have patients. Customer loyalty is one of the most important keys to success. Loyalty not only brings in the same patients year after year, but those patients are also referring their friends and family to your growing practice.
Business leaders and IT personnel have so many issues to consider and tasks to pursue that any preventative effort that can reduce stress and worry should be seen as a valuable commodity. Increasing the security of file transfer allows these personnel to focus their attention and efforts on more mission-critical areas.
File Sharing Success
Change is never fun; it seems to cost more and there is always a learning curve. But I guarantee you that file-sharing software is out there that is as easy as one, two click. It also might surprise you how cheap some software costs. Leave the stress behind and focus on what really matters—growing a successful practice. Start the New Year right and make smart investments before it is too late.SW
Dimitry Shuster serves as the CTO for Dental eShare. With 18 years of hands-on experience in leading the design and development of software and hardware products, he has a proven track record of developing, executing, and launching innovative software products to achieve critical business results and success.