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Is there a Migration of Patients to Paper-Based Dentists?

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Paper Medical Records Become Popular Again?

[By Kellus Pruitt DDS]


Starting long ago, I warned that as more dental patients are notified of data breaches – some more than once – we are likely to witness an event mandate stakeholders said would never happen: A migration of patients to paper-based dentists.

Now, because of the rapidly escalating costs and liabilities, defiant, slow adopters of electronic dental records [EDRs] can not only expect to provide dental care at a lower cost than “paperless practices,” but patients are on course to learn that some dentists do not put their patients at risk of medical identity theft by putting identities on computers.

Just sit back and watch!

The Ponemon Institute

In February, the Ponemon Institute published  their “Fifth Annual Study on Medical Identity Theft.”

 “Consumers expect healthcare providers to be proactive in preventing and detecting medical identity theft. Although many respondents are not confident in the security practices of their healthcare provider, 79 percent of respondents say it is important for healthcare providers to ensure the privacy of their health records. Forty-eight percent say they would consider changing healthcare providers if their medical records were lost or stolen. If such a breach occurred, 40 percent say prompt notification by the organization responsible for safeguarding this information is important.”

The Paper-Gold Standard? 

So if your patients start asking you not to put their identities – including medical records – on your computers, what will you do, Doc?

Since encryption is a non-starter in dentistry for solid, business reasons, and will make paperless practices even less competitive with paper-based, would you consider employing staff which knows how to use pegboard, ledger cards and lots of carbon paper (The gold standard of security)?

Or, would you prefer not to give up computerization, yet keep your patients safe?

*** paper




De-identification of primary electronic dental records is sounding better all the time. Am I right? If patients’ identities are not available, they cannot be hacked.

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4 Responses

  1. F/U – Hospital loses access to patients’ EHRs for a week

    “HVAC Burnout Causes Week-Long EHR Outage – Yuba City, CA-based Rideout Memorial Hospital reported its EHR was out of service for approximately a week after the HVAC unit died, causing a redundant unit to also overheat from the added load.”

    Christine Kern for HealthIT Outcomes
    [March 16, 2015]


    On the other hand, paper records can be read by flashlight in a warm room if necessary.

    D. Kellus Pruitt DDS


  2. Is a return to paper dental records imminent?
    [That is up to dental patients, not dentists]

    If you observed one dental EHR stakeholder after another refuse to respond to this customer’s simple questions about the cost and safety of software they would have dentists purchase, you witnessed silence confirm that electronic dental records cannot be defended – yet even more bad news arrives every day. As defenseless, cowering stakeholders face a long string of losing battles, they occasionally try to reassure themselves that dentists will never go back to paper… as if it were even the dentists’ choice.

    “Report: Medical data breaches are rising with no end in sight – From 2010 to 2013, the number of reported breaches — from the theft of a laptop with confidential patient information to employees walking off with patient files — involving more than 500 patients increased 23 percent while those involving hacking or a technological glitch that exposed or could have exposed sensitive information doubled in that period, according to the study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. What’s more, the study estimates that more than 29 million health records were affected by breaches during that three-year period, but that number has already been dwarfed in the first three months of this year, researchers found.” By Victoria Colliver April 14, 2015. (more).


    Arielle Duhaime-Ross. writing for The Verge reports: “Overall, the study paints a pretty depressing picture for those who think electronic records could reduce the cost of health care as whole, while improving its accuracy and speed. If these data breaches persist, Blumenthal and McGraw write, it’s possible that people will start to resist the idea of sharing their health information via electronic means, which could reduce its value for individual care and its availability for research.” (See: “29 million US health records exposed by data breaches between 2010 and 2013,” April 14, 2015).


    If desperate, evasive salespeople had the courage to speak up, a few might disagree. But the fact is, dentists’ concern for their patients’ welfare is overwhelmingly more important to Americans than digital records. What’s more, wary patients are fed up with data breaches. As millions continue to receive second and even third notifications, watch for paper-based dentists to become preferred by the informed.

    Is it still too early to consider de-identification of dentists’ primary EHRs, Doc? If patients’ identities are unavailable, they simply cannot be stolen. Think about it. The technology has been available for years.

    D. Kellus Pruitt DDS


  3. Quick EMR Survey by Podiatrists

    If given the chance, would you use paper records instead of EMR?
    [There were 390 responses]

    Strongly agree: 52.56%
    Agree somewhat: 17.95%
    Neither agree or disagree: 3.08%
    Disagree somewhat: 7.95%
    Strongly disagree: 18.46%

    Source: PM Magazine July 25, 2017



    Investigations put focus on infection control in dental offices

    Two high-profile safety breaches have highlighted the importance of close adherence to infection control protocols in dental clinics and offices.

    In both recent cases, patients have been advised to undergo testing for HIV and hepatitis B and C due to possible exposure to bloodborne pathogens.

    In Seattle and nearby Vashon Island, news broke in early April that nearly 1,300 students face infection risks because equipment used in school clinics was improperly sterilized. Ten school-based dental clinics operatedby Neighborcare, a local health center have been impacted by the safety breach.




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