Considerations for Telehealth in Dentistry

A slingshot into a new ‘virtual world’

We support a number of healthcare professionals who use different telehealth platforms. When they choose this route, typically there is a plan to adopt this technology, time to choose a vendor, hardware, security, and support.

However, this pandemic did not allow for that. Healthcare providers from all types of practices were flung into a new realty virtually overnight.

Adapt quickly

Suddenly everyone embraced the idea that telemedicine was not just reserved for remote communities, or relegated to family medicine and psychiatry.

Most healthcare professions – including dentistry, physiotherapy, and many others – took it on. This pandemic has certainly required us to become a lot more creative about the ways in which we can interact with patients.

Dentistry, for example, requires a number of screenings that can be easily facilitated over telehealth if used properly, but there are a number of important considerations when it comes to security.

COVID-19 Screening

There are a number of forms that need to be filled out, and conversations that can be had over a video. These allow healthcare providers to screen and decide how to proceed, or whether they’re even going to treat a patient.

Some of the considerations that we need to look at include:

  • What type of platform should you use?
  • Who is going to facilitate this new medium?
  • How will patients accept it?
  • What type of security concerns do we need to be aware of?

What videoconferencing platform should you use?

The first thing is to choose a platform that you’re comfortable with – that makes sense to you in how to navigate through it – since you need to learn fast.

However, the most important factor is to choose a platform that meets privacy criteria.

  • How are the invites to the video-conference sent? Are they password-protected in order to reduce unwanted guests on the line?
  • Does the platform offer encryption to protect your clinic and patient interactions?
  • Who is the provider, and do they meet the overall privacy compliance requirements for your jurisdiction or regulatory college?
  • Have you checked the online reviews?
  • How will you handle consent for video-conferencing?
  • Does the platform allow you to securely transfer documents? (some have this built in, and it’s really handy)
  • Who will create your telehealth policy?
  • Where will you be performing this from? (Example, a home computer and network is generally not nearly as secure as your office so you will need help)

Why your home network is likely a security hazard

As of mid-March 2020, suddenly everyone is working from home (now commonly abbreviated to “WFH”).

Whether you’re working in telehealth, or just accessing your practice server, you need to be aware of the security of the computer that you’re using.

Home networks don’t have the luxury, stability, and security of the networks you have in your offices.  Typically in a home environment, you have whatever router has been given to you by your Internet provider, and there are likely a number of people working off of that same network connection.

Sometimes people are even using the same computer as their kids or partners, and the risk this poses this can be problematic.  You computer sould have been compromised by one of them, which could expose the transaction that you’re having with your patient.

You may have implemented a secure compliant telehealth platform, but are you ignoring other risks?

We’ve just identified the risk of home computers and networks, but what about your office?

Sadly, many small healthcare practices fail cybersecurity risk assessments, so there are huge gaps to consider there as well. (91% of Dental Practices Fail Cybersecurity Risk Assessment – HCN Data 2015-2019 risk assessments)

Security patching and appropriate security software monitoring is key.

To remain secure, there are security patches, application patches, security monitoring, anti-virus, anti-malware, anti-ransomware, and more. And these all need to be considered. These need to be facilitated both within the office environment and at home, if you’re working there.  

Security and support is an ongoing process, and we help people just like you

At Alexio, we help healthcare providers understand if the tools they are using are safe and compliant.  We also offer affordable solutions to ensure that the computers the platforms and the network connections are all safe for use in telehealth and day-to-day operations. Whether it’s dentistry, physiotherapy or primary care, we help keep patient data secure.

Take a course in telehealth best practices

One useful step that you can take: look at what types of courses are available to help your staff understand telehealth to improve patient experience, and learn best practices.  

We provide consulting and templates, but one of the fastest ways to teach you staff is via one of our training partners, 4Med. (Use our discount code: ALEXIO20 to get 20% off any courses.)

COURSE DESCRIPTION: The Certificate of Telehealth Skills Proficiency (CTHSP) 

This course provides a comprehensive understanding of the remote technology defined as telehealth and telemedicine. Telehealth is used around the world to deliver basic healthcare and to allow patients with mobility issues or other conflicts to seek medical care from the convenience of home.

Telemedicine has the power to not only break down typical geographical barriers to care access, but to make the entire healthcare delivery model more convenient for patients. This course includes a telehealth action plan as well as a real-world communication exercise designed to provide learners with a hands-on experience of the telehealth experience.

Successful completion of the course and final exam delivers an approved 4MedPlus Proficiency with professional badge/seal!


COURSE OBJECTIVES:

  • Understand the origins of telemedicine
  • Discuss methods and models of telehealth
  • Understand telehealth requirements
  • Discuss protected patient health information
  • Explain telehealth reimbursement
  • Define remote patient monitoring
  • Demonstrate a telehealth workflow
  • Build a telehealth action plan

Purchase this course here, and don’t forget to use Alexio Discount Code ALEXIO20

About Anne Genge:

Anne Genge is CDM 2020 Global Cyber Defense Award Winner – ‘Most Innovative Woman in Cybersecurity.’  She is a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/C) with a specialization in small business and healthcare. In 2017, she co-founded Alexio Corporation, now a national and global award-winning Cybersecurity firm. Anne is passionate about education and automation as crucial vehicles to solving data security.

About Alexio Corporation:

Alexio Corporation is an award-winning CyberRisk prevention software and training company for healthcare practices and other small to medium sized businesses. Leveraging automation, machine-learning, and multi-layered security threat intelligence, Alexio specializes in delivering enterprise-class cyber-security to smaller networks. Alexio’s subscription-based model means that all businesses, no matter their size can protect patient, client, and consumer data. See https://getalexio.com for more information.

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