If you own or help manage a dental practice, you know how important HIPAA compliance is to your success. First, you want to protect your patients and their data. PHI (protected health information) is personal and private, and any practice staff would want to make sure it remains that way. However, it’s also common knowledge that noncompliance can result in fines, penalties, and even damage to the reputation of your business.
Although there are various ways you can help your dental practice be HIPAA compliant, there’s one aspect in particular that will make the biggest difference: your staff. Here are a few ways to make sure they’re properly educated and involved in compliance so you can lower the risk of HIPAA violations at your dental practice.
Embed compliance into your workplace culture
The first point is to make HIPAA compliance top of mind for all of your employees. Keep the lines of communication open about the topic. Encourage questions and discussion. Share the latest news about compliance with your employees in meetings or newsletters. Have signage around the work area reminding staff about certain compliance actions they need to take regularly. If this topic is talked about often, employees will be more likely to properly protect PHI as a matter of habit. That way, your chance and frequency of violations drop even lower.
Improve your compliance training
Training is a central component of HIPAA-compliance success in a dental practice. Make sure you hold trainings frequently, for two reasons. First, talking about this subject regularly will always keep it fresh in the minds of your employees. Second, training your dental staff in HIPAA compliance often will also give you the opportunity to update them whenever there are changes to the law they should know about.
Make sure the training is as useful and engaging as possible. Try incorporating videos, quizzes, or real-life examples. Experiment with different teaching methods to make sure your employees will fully understand and retain the information, because it’s so key to the success of your practice. Also make sure there’s a way to hold your dental staff accountable for attending the HIPAA trainings. Have a sign-in sheet, and make sure anyone who misses a training has the chance to make it up.
Enforce HIPAA-compliance rules for your staff
Once you set the rules for HIPAA compliance for your dental staff (including procedures, training schedules and requirements, etc.), it’s crucial that you enforce them. If an employee misses a compliance-training session and fails to make it up, decide on the appropriate action and then carry it out.
Likewise, if you notice your employees working hard to implement compliance in your dental practice, praise and even reward them. Incentives like a gift card or special recognition can go a long way in motivating staff to follow protocols about HIPAA compliance. However you decide to enforce your rules about staff training and compliance, make sure to be consistent.
Consult with experts
InnovateU offers full practice management for practices across many fields, including dentistry. If you have concerns about HIPAA compliance in your dental practice, or would like assistance with any other aspect of managing your dental business, contact us today! We offer consulting practice management, billing, coding, and credentialing support, and much more.