Maintaining private records of patients is a heavy responsibility. The appropriate collection, use, and disclosure of confidential information is critical to maintaining privacy for those that choose to trust in your practice, which demands from you a strong cybersecurity strategy. Establishing security practices is an obvious step for custodians such as dentists, but many do not realize that they have to prove their digital infrastructure is secure with a Privacy Impact Assessment.
What is a Privacy Impact Assessment?
A Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) is an audit of your internal processes that defines how you identify and mitigate cybersecurity risks. It is an opportunity for an organization to look at how they manage the personal data that is retained and what steps are being taken to protect that data. With risks always existing within any system, it is essential that organizations are aware of their weaknesses and take active steps to continuously improve their cybersecurity strategies.
Make PIAs a Priority
Developing PIAs can be intimidating, but to remain in compliance with Alberta’s Health Information Act, private dental practices do not have the choice. Luckily, there are many resources available to assist in creating and filing a PIA. The first step is to begin the process as soon as possible and document everything associated with privacy risks. By creating awareness of the risks that exist, this also puts you one step ahead of potential hackers who may make malicious attempts at gaining access to your confidential servers.
Implement and Refresh Your Action Plan
PIAs are public documents that are not simply for show. They are a demonstration to the community you serve that you can be trusted with their privileged information. Although the PIA identifies risks and establishes a plan to manage those risks, the PIA itself is only the outlined strategy. Your organization must commit to implementing the designed plan and then managing the plan with regular updates. If necessary, you can update your submitted PIA if you have made major changes to one of your programs. New risks can arise every day, requiring consistent monitoring of your systems to ensure that data is safe.
The basic tenants of a PIA demand legal compliance, to determine risks and evaluate your existing processes. However, a PIA secures more than just your data. It establishes trust with whom you serve, and it prevents financial disaster for your organization that may result from fines or lawsuits in the wake of a security breach. A PIA is not merely an annoying hurdle, but is, rather, an ethical responsibility as a private dental practice. Both you and your patients will have peace of mind, and maintaining compliance is critical to the success of your organization.
The ITeam understands the cybersecurity issues facing Canada dental practices. We are committed to helping Calgary- and Alberta-based dentists and medical professionals develop proactive, cost-effective IT strategies that minimize risk and maximize efficiency. Contact us to learn more.