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Securing Protected Health Information in Dental Offices

Dental PHI
Protected Health Information of a Dental Patient

What is Protected Health Information or PHI?

Protected health information includes all individually identifiable healthcare data which is often demographic, medical histories, test results, and insurance. This can include everything from your own personal details to more general things like what kind of diagnosis you’ve had or if the treatment was successful. PHI only relates to information on patients or health plan members. It does not include information contained in educational and employment records, that includes health information maintained by a HIPAA covered entity in its capacity as an employer.

‘Protected’ means that this info is protected under HIPAA Privacy Rule – meaning it’s only been shared with those who have a right to know as well as any other people in charge of your care at the time they need access.

Protected health information or PHI is medical records can be your name, address, or phone number; billing data related to services you received from a dental care provider, payment histories for goods and/or services administered by these dental offices like medications prescribed at pharmacies and dental judgment codes used in relation with diagnosis or treatment plans created by dentists which may be coded based on severity levels.

The privacy shield protects health data from getting into the wrong hands. Protected Health Information or PHI means any information that relates to past, present, or future physical and mental condition in an individual; how someone pays for healthcare services they receive; a person’s name with their address so we know where to deliver care should be considered protected under law by HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability Act):

  • Transmitted by electronic media;
  • Maintained in electronic media; or
  • Transmitted or maintained in any other form or medium.

HIPAA outlined that all healthcare providers (such as dental offices) must protect any personal data they keep on their patients which includes things like names or social security numbers but also anything else related such as medical histories whether from mental disorders or drug abuse problems along with HIV/AIDS status even if someone has not disclosed them yet.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires covered entities such as dental offices to implement safeguards to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of protected health information. It’s important to be careful when it comes to the issue of HIPAA compliance for dentists. Research conducted by the American Dental Association shows that dental practices are on a rise and gathering larger databases of patient healthcare and payment data, making them more attractive targets for cybercriminals. Dentist covered under HIPAA.

This is crucial for protecting people’s privacy rights. In order to do this though we need a more clear definition of what it means by “protected health information.”

Why is securing PHIs in your dental office so important?

Every day, there are more and more threats to people’s personal information. This is why it can be so important to protect your health data- including PHI or PHIe as you might call it.

In the past, many dental offices have been fined or even shut down due to HIPAA violations. This is because there are so many different ways that PHI can be leaked from a dental office and it’s difficult to know what all of them are.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted in 1996 to protect the privacy of Protected Health Information. The law protects PHI from unauthorized disclosure, with recent changes in technology making it more important than ever before.

HIPAA law has created a lot of work for dental office owners, as they have to spend hours researching the regulations and training employees. The consequences can be hefty fines if dental office administrators or dentists are not sure how to handle privacy compliance on their own.

Penalties for entities that misuse personal health information include:

Civil penalties. Civil penalties are $100 per violation, up to $25,000 per person, per year for each requirement or prohibition violated. 

Federal criminal penalties. Under HIPAA, Congress also established criminal penalties for knowingly violating patient privacy., Criminal violations range from a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of not more than one year and/or fines not exceeding the greater of either (1)$50 thousand dollars; or(2) five times the amount prescribed in subchapter A as a civil monetary penalty, following conviction on an indictment with notice thereof given prior to judgment.

How can you safeguard PHI in your dental office?

It’s time to get serious about your dental office cybersecurity. With the increase in cyberattacks over the years, dental offices can no longer rely on basic security measures.

Step up your cybersecurity with these tips:

  • Have a security system installed in your dental network and regularly update your dental network system. Your workplace should be secure, not just for you but also for your employees. Your systems need to have anti-virus and anti-malware installed so that they are working at all times. You’ll need to update the software regularly as well; viruses can evolve quickly.
  • Secure any computer or data storage devices when not in use. We find that some people carelessly leave laptops and other devices out for us to take. Some providers even experienced expert thieves who steal those devices in order to try to extract data from them. First of all, make sure the device is physically secure by not leaving it anywhere where someone can easily pick it up and run off with it. Secondly, set passwords on your laptop or tablet so no one will ever get access without first knowing something about how they work through hacking into them.
  • Have data loss prevention and dental network disaster recovery support. Compliance with data protection standards is a must for dental healthcare providers. If you ever need to demonstrate compliance, it’s important that your company has an effective backup system in place and can show how often the backups are happening. It also helps if your staff knows what exactly they’re backing up – where this information will be stored; when these back-ups happen (daily? weekly?) etc., so there isn’t any confusion about whether or not something was backed up properly later on down the line.

Dental offices are always busy with patients, making it difficult for the IT team to keep up with all of their devices and software updates. This leaves them vulnerable to security breaches.

Dillon Dental Networks offers 24/7 support services that will allow your staff to focus on patient care without having to worry about your dental office’s technology needs. 

Dillon Dental Networks offers a range of dental network services from monitoring and maintenance, to security and recovery. We also offer HIPAA training & compliance, software for dentists, and hardware products for dental offices. Our team has decades of experience working with leading dental practices across the San Diego area.

Get in touch with us today at with the following details:

☎ 800-509-0344

📧 hello@dillondentalnetworks.com

💻 https://dillondentalnetworks.com/

🏢  2195 Faraday Ave, Carlsbad, CA 92008, United States


Dillon Dental Networks has been helping San Diego dental practices run smoothly for years. We’re a team of experts who understand the unique needs of dentists and their offices, which is why we provide complete managed IT services that are customized to fit each client’s budget and business goals.

To learn more about our software and dental IT support, you may visit:

Our dental IT experts also provide HIPAA and HITECH compliance support and training to ensure that your dental office adheres to federal regulations.

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