Patients typically request access to their dental records for another healthcare provider to review. However, they may file a request for other reasons within their rights. When they submit a release-of-records form, they authorize their current dentist to release the records to a designated person. Understanding the release of records process, the people involved, and your patients' rights will help you keep your patients fully informed.
What Does a Release of Records Form Mean for Your Dental Practice?
If your practice is not covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), your state laws regarding record release apply. If your practice uses electronic claims to communicate with dental plans, then HIPAA coverage applies. With communications and recordkeeping moving to electronic platforms, HIPAA coverage applies to most modern practices.
You may need to access or release a patient's dental records for several reasons. Most situations require the patient's consent, and your practice will receive a release-of-records form specifying the patient's name, the records to release, and the person receiving the records.
With online dental forms by Dental Intelligence, manual data entry of patient records and release of records is a thing of the past. Our streamlined digital solution, designed specifically for dental practices, sends patients a secure link to fill out their forms online before their appointment. You can even customize our library of pre-made forms to make sure you get all the information you need from patients.
What Are Your Patients' Rights?
When you understand and effectively communicate your patients' rights to them, they see that you keep their needs and privacy as the cornerstone of your practice. Release-of-records forms for dental practices are about strong communication and a good relationship based on the provided information. The following people can request access to a patient's dental records:
- A patient who is either a competent, lawful adult or a minor with court-granted emancipation.
- A personal representative as defined by your state laws. This is usually a parent or legal guardian.
- If the patient has died, an executor of the patient's estate
A patient can do the following with their records:
- Review their information and make any needed corrections
- Learn how you use or share their information if applicable
- Request reports regarding the reasons for any shared information
- Keep copies for their personal records
What You Can Do to Keep Your Patients Informed and Your Practice Covered
HIPAA Privacy Rules apply to all varieties of protected health information, whether it's verbal, electronic, or paper. As most businesses move toward paperless recordkeeping, spoken or hard-copy agreements will eventually be rendered unnecessary. All parties involved in any agreement will have access to the same records that they may print out or save as they wish.
However, you still carry the weight of keeping all patient information secure and private unless otherwise specified by a patient's release-of-records form. A few things to consider when a patient requests access to their online dental forms:
- Confirm that the patient has an encrypted email address if you send records via email. Unencrypted email addresses are prone to information leaks and hacking, which puts patient information in jeopardy. You will want to inform your patient of these risks before sending sensitive information to their email.
- Ensure that all patients complete and sign consent forms when sharing their information with different providers.
- Institute policies holding your employees accountable for keeping patient information private.
- Check in with lawyers about your state laws to comply with all policies, consent forms, and other legally binding documents.
Dental Intelligence Keeps Your Patients and Practice Covered
Keeping your patients' information accessible to them and their chosen providers but private from everyone else is a balancing act that requires careful consideration. Communication, vigilance, and knowledge all play an important role in building a competent and qualified dental practice. You need dental software that covers all your bases while you take care of your patients.
At Dental Intelligence, we meet your needs for dental records and dental consent forms in one secure and user-friendly setting. We provide the tools and resources you need to give your patients the care they deserve. Get in touch with us today to learn more about what Dental Intelligence has to offer!