Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Bracing for Hurricane Matthew or any natural disaster

As I write this blog for you all today, I am sitting in a hotel in Jacksonville, Fla., because I am working with an amazing periodontal office with their systems, health history updates and overall practice efficiency. Last night, I spoke to their study club members on some practical measures when it comes to protecting their patient records. It is ironic that, as I write this, we are on the verge of Hurricane Matthew hitting the east coast of Florida … so this post becomes so much more important.

It is up to the practice to make sure that their patients’ Protected Health Information (PHI) is kept confidential, the integrity of the record is sound and your patients’ records are accessible. So as I watch the Weather Channel from my hotel room tonight, I wanted to put together some tips you can follow to help you protect your patient’s information.

Notice what I said “some tips you can follow to help you protect your patient’s information.” It is not the job of your software, your hardware or your office design to ensure the protection of your patient’s data. It is up to you to put systems in place.

Since Florida is on the verge of a Category 4 hurricane, I want to point out a few things that could potentially affect the confidentiality, integrity and accessibility of your patient’s protected health information.
  • Power outages are going to be a huge issue with this upcoming storm. If you are going to close the office and want to have access to some of your patients’ information for returning calls, phoning in medications or following up with your patients after some surgeries, I would recommend you using Dentrix Mobile. When you use Dentrix Mobile, you have the opportunity to remote in using a mobile device and having access to some of your patients’ critical information.
  • Make sure an authorized team member has access to the backup of all the patient data in case of flooding or destruction of the practice. The backup of the data might be on an external hard drive or in an online secure backup system. Dentrix has the option of using eBackup to store your patients’ information securely and safely. This would give your practice a good option to access patient data in case of an emergency.
  • Make sure you have your Business Associate Agreements in place with your outside contractors. What if you are working with a consultant, accountant, attorney or computer company who has access to your patients’ information and they are the ones who are affected by the storm which jeopardizes the confidentiality of your patients’ information?



You can never do too much to prepare for a disaster and you have an obligation to protect your patients’ health information. It is not something you want to take lightly. Seeing this storm and looking back on storms in the past makes me realize we should be prepared for anything.

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