In 2013, California-based dentist Robert Meaglia was preparing for the holidays when he had unwelcome visitors in his dental practice. Burglars broke in through the back door and stole numerous items, including a Gameboy and toothbrushes. Worst of all, they took his computer containing unencrypted patient information.
The use of cell phones and other wireless technology in patient care is a big trend in dentistry. Many dental providers find text messaging provides quick access to the information they need to make decisions. But dental providers and staff need to keep in mind privacy and security concerns when texting. Whether the devices are organization owned or personally owned, dental organizations that use mobile devices to text health information should comply with HIPAA regulations.
It’s not a matter of if…but when. These are the words that any healthcare professional is bound to hear throughout their career in regards to cyber-attacks, ransomware, and electronic HIPAA violations. Malicious or criminal attacks account for 48% of data breaches in the United States which includes hacking, viruses and malware, phishing, spear phishing and network intrusion. Additionally, no matter what state you decide to practice in, 47 out of 50 states require breach notifications. As a dental student, you need to understand cyber risks, ransomware and how dental malpractice insurance can protect you.
In the midst of busy day where there’s no time to chat, sending a text message to communicate is a quick, convenient option we often use to keep our messages brief and to the point. But, how many people actually prefer texting over talking on the phone? According to a 2011 report by the Pew Research Center, approximately 83% of Americans own cell phones and of these, 73% use the text messaging function. Additionally, a 2016 survey conducted by OpenMarket found that 75% of millennials “chose texting over talking,” often citing the convenience of communicating on their own schedule. As students, we often text our family, friends and classmates to coordinate our daily lives, but many of us may also text our patients to confirm appointments and address questions. While texting might seem to be a convenient way to contact patients, it’s important to remember that this action raises many important implications for patient privacy.