As our world experiences sudden changes with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are hearing from many dental offices that are looking for additional treatment options for their patients. Telemedicine is a solution that can help practices quickly, efficiently, and safely consult with patients, and foster open communication with patients during this crisis.
When considering offering video conferencing solutions for dental, orthodontic, periodontic, oral surgery, and other dental specialties, it’s crucial to ensure that you are operating within the HIPAA (Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act) guidelines to maintain the integrity of your patients PHI (Protected Health Information). When seeking out a provider for video conferencing for dentistry, it’s vital to make sure that they offer the proper security and a BAA (Business Associates Agreement).
Some video conferencing providers have opted not to offer a HIPAA compliant solution, and these services should be avoided for teledentistry. Skype®, Facetime®, Standard Email, and SMS should not be used for teledentistry. Be sure to carefully review the documentation and speak with each company you are considering before selecting the right video conferencing service to use in your dental practice.
Providers that list HIPAA compliance information include GoToMeeting® and Zoom®. The links to their HIPAA specific pages can be found below. We recommend that you reach out to any provider you are considering to speak with them about pricing and the particular needs of your practice. Be sure to review and complete all the necessary HIPAA requirements when signing on with a provider of telemedicine solutions.
Once you have selected a dental telemedicine provider, you can work with your dental website company to update your website and inform your patients about the teledentistry options you offer in your practice. It’s up to each office to make sure you are correctly adhering to all government regulations and guidelines. If you need specific legal guidance, we recommend reaching out to your attorney or one specializing in HIPAA compliance for dentistry. Also, if adding Telehealth, please make sure to include language addressing the HIPAA compliance of your teledentistry provider.
Keeping patients and staff safe during the coronavirus outbreak is important for everyone in the dental community. Telemedicine is a critical part of this process, a technology that we expect more practices will adopt not only during this pandemic but in the future as well.
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