Properly Securing Your Patients’ Protected Health Information

Properly Securing Your Patients’ Protected Health Information

As a dental professional, protecting your patients’ protected health information (PHI) is paramount. Unfortunately, cybercriminals are always looking for new ways to access this information. As the custodian of sensitive data, you must take steps to ensure that your dental practice’s network security is up-to-date and in compliance with regulations. To keep your patients' PHI safe, it is important to follow proper security protocols. By following the tips in this blog, you can help protect your practice from cyberattacks while ensuring your patients’ privacy remains intact.

Hold Regular Security Trainings

Dental professionals have a responsibility to protect their patients' protected health information (PHI). To ensure that this data is kept secure, it is important to hold regular security trainings with staff. By educating and training employees on network security measures and best practices, dental professionals can help keep PHI safe from cyberattacks while upholding patient privacy. Here are some of the key areas that should be covered in these security trainings. 

Restrict Access to PHI

Dental practices must take the necessary steps to ensure that access to their patients' protected health information (PHI) is restricted. This includes implementing network security measures such as user authentication, identity and access management, network segmentation, and encryption. By establishing secure permissions and roles, limits can be placed on who has access to PHI data based on need-to-know criteria. In addition, network segmentation can help protect PHI by restricting network access between different departments or physical locations within the practice.  

For example, the dental office network should be completely segregated from the patient portal network. Finally, encryption should be employed to protect against cyberattacks and unauthorized access when transmitting PHI data over public networks. Encryption solutions can also be used to encrypt sensitive data at rest on devices connected to the network that store PHI.

Deploy Proper Network Security Measures: Firewalls and Antivirus Software

When it comes to protecting patient's protected health information (PHI), network security measures such as firewalls and antivirus software are essential. A firewall is a network security measure that helps protect PHI from cyberattacks. It acts as a barrier between the dental network and the internet, keeping out any unapproved attempts to access PHI data on the network. The firewall will also detect suspicious activity, like if someone tries to hack into the network, and alert the dental IT support team to act. 

Infographic explaining how firewalls work. Shows public network with both unwanted and permitted traffic with a brick wall and fire connected to internal network.

In order for your dental practice to properly protect its network, the right network security solutions must be deployed, and a robust IT support team must be in place. These measures help ensure that PHI data is kept secure from cyberattacks while upholding patient privacy.

Create a Secure Network Environment Through Professional IT Support Services

An experienced dental IT managed service provider can help keep your dental practice safe from cyberattacks by creating a secure network environment. They can do things like set up firewalls, actively monitor your network, and provide access to only authorized parties. Additionally, they can provide guidance on best security practices and offer technical support when needed.  

With the right IT solutions in place, you can protect PHI while upholding patient privacy and preventing cyberattacks. It is important for you to take the necessary steps to ensure that your dental practice’s networks are secure and kept up-to-date with the latest security technologies and trends. Lastly, a dedicated professional IT support team can help identify end-of-life technology, such as Windows Server 2012 and Windows 7 operating system, that could potentially put your practice at risk.

Leverage Full-Disk Encryption Solutions

Full-disk encryption solutions are security methods that encrypt all the information on a hard drive or other storage devices. Encrypted information can include operating systems, applications, user data, and free space. With full-disk encryption, data is encrypted by a mathematical algorithm to scramble the data, so it is unreadable without the correct key. Therefore, only people with the right password can get access to the data. If a physical device becomes stolen or lost, this solution can ensure that protected health information (PHI) is kept safe from cyberattacks and that only authorized people have access.

Implement Backup and Disaster Recovery Plans

Backup and disaster recovery plans are important for dental practices because they help to keep the information within their IT infrastructure safe. These plans are set in place to make sure that if something bad happens such as a computer crash, the information is still there and can be recovered. Backup and disaster recovery plans also protect against cyberattacks, which helps keep patient's information private. 

By partnering with a dental IT managed services provider, dental practices can ensure that proper backup and disaster recovery plans are in place to safeguard PHI data. A reliable IT support team can help devise a plan tailored to the specific needs of each practice, including frequent backups and system updates, as well as policies and procedures for detecting and responding to cyberattacks. Additionally, they can provide guidance on audit and notification requirements set forth by federal HIPAA regulations. 

With the right backup and disaster recovery plans in place, dental practices have the peace of mind knowing that their patient's PHI is secure from potential security threats. Furthermore, by utilizing automated backup solutions such as cloud storage or local servers, data loss is minimized if there were ever an attack or breach on the network. In the event of an outage or disaster, having a reliable IT partner allows for rapid response times and rapid restoration of critical systems. Overall, proper backup and disaster recovery plans provide not only protection from cyberattacks but also business continuity in case of unexpected events.


As a dental professional, you have an obligation to protect your patients' sensitive health information from unauthorized access. This means taking steps to ensure the network environment is secure and that all patient data is encrypted. To do this, it is important for dental professionals to invest in network security measures such as encryption, backup and disaster recovery services, and IT support. In addition, having regular security trainings for staff can help keep everyone up-to-date on the latest protocols and procedures when dealing with protected health information (PHI). By following these best practices, you can rest assured that your patients' PHI will remain safe and secure.

Securing your patients' PHI is not something to take lightly, it is a critical responsibility of every professional in the field of dentistry. As a growing dental practice, you may have difficulties finding the time, or the resources required to stay on top of cybersecurity. Fortunately, you can leverage Pact-One’s cybersecurity solutions to keep your practice safe from cyber threats and secure PHI. To learn more about what we can do for your practice, connect with one of our Client Success Managers today.

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