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What Is Cybersecurity Compliance in Dentistry?

Eura Edmond
July 8, 2021 | 3 min read

Running a dental practice is increasingly complicated, thanks to the many laws that regulate data protection and cybersecurity in dentistry.

If you’re overwhelmed by the myriad of regulatory requirements, you’re not alone. In this article, we’ll look at the data security laws that dental practices need to know.

What’s HIPAA Compliance?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is the most well-known data privacy law among healthcare providers. It regulates how sensitive patient data, such as protected health information (PHI), is collected, stored, and used in a healthcare setting.

A dental practice must have adequate measures in place to safeguard the security of all its physical, technical, and administrative processes:

  • Technical safeguards: Network and device encryption, access control, ePHI authentication, activity audits, automatic log-off.
  • Physical safeguards: Controlled facility access and workstation access, mobile device policy, server tracking.
  • Administrative safeguards: Risk assessments, staff training, business continuity plan, security incidents documentation.

HIPAA privacy rule requires that you obtain patients’ consent to use their ePHI and respond to patients’ requests to access their information. HIPAA breach notification rule states that providers must notify patients promptly (within 30 days) when a breach is detected.

Meanwhile, the HIPAA omnibus rule requires anyone associated with a dental practice and handles patient information (e.g., billing services, dental management software provider) to meet HIPAA requirements.

What’s NIST 800-53 Compliance?

NIST stands for National Institute of Standards and Technology. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) provides a set of security controls to ensure the safety and resiliency of information systems used by federal agencies and contractors.

While NIST 800-53 isn’t specific to the healthcare industry, the CSF is a golden standard trusted by organizations that handle highly sensitive information. When you use NIST 800-53 compliant cloud dental software, you can be sure that sensitive patient information is well protected. 

The NIST CSF consists of these 5 main functions:

  • Identify: Assess and manage data security risks to systems, assets, data, and capabilities.
  • Protect: Implement safeguards to ensure the delivery of critical infrastructure services.
  • Detect: Conduct the appropriate activities to identify cybersecurity events.
  • Respond: Implement the process to act upon the detection of cybersecurity events.
  • Recover: Maintain business resilience and restore capabilities or services impaired by a cybersecurity event.

What’s Type II SOC 2 Compliance?

SOC stands for System and Organization Controls. As part of the Service Organization Control reporting platform of the American Institute of CPA, it applies to technology vendors that handle or store patient or customer data.

SOC 2 helps dental practices ensure the safety and privacy of patient data when they use technology services or SaaS companies to process digital information in the cloud. It ensures that a provider has the organizational controls to safeguard the privacy and security of your patients’ data.

Instead of a prescriptive list of controls, tools, or processes, SOC 2 outlines 5 trust service criteria that vendors must follow:

  • Security: Protect information and systems from unauthorized access.
  • Availability: Maintain minimal acceptable network performance levels.
  • Processing integrity: Ensure that systems are free from errors, delays, omissions, and unauthorized or inadvertent manipulations.
  • Confidentiality: Restrict data access so only a specified set of persons can view, edit, or share sensitive information.
  • Privacy: Safeguard personally identifiable information (PII) from unauthorized access.

A SOC 2 compliant vendor has the processes in place to monitor user access levels, detect document system configuration changes, and recognize threats (e.g., unauthorized access.) It can also gather relevant information on security incidents to take remediation actions and restore data promptly.

Protect Your Dental Practice and Patient Data

Staying compliant with various data privacy laws protects your patient data and ensures that you don’t incur hefty penalties.

However, these regulations are complex and fast-evolving. Unless you have a team of cybersecurity experts at your fingertip, it’s almost impossible for dental offices of any size to navigate the compliance requirements.

That’s why more dental practices are switching to trusted cloud dental practice management platforms. For instance, tab32 is compliant with various standards, including HIPAA, NIST 800-53, Type II SOC 2, and ISO 27001.

Request a demo to see how tab32 can strengthen your cybersecurity defense.

Learn more now!

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