Your practice data— ownership and management

online dental software

Costa Pinchuk, director of Praktika—Online Dental Software

This article is sponsored content brought to you by Praktika.

The major changes in practice data principles are happening so quickly that the legal base and work practices are struggling to keep up the pace. The most burning issues are the data ownership, data privacy and security. We at Praktika—Online Dental Software, as custodians of our clients’ data, have to deal with these issues every day and, thus, I will try to shed some light on what the current regulations are and what would be the best practices to ensure that you comply with them.

The surveys show the majority of health providers believe patients own their health records but it is not correct in Australia. The current regulations say, “Generally, the health service provider who creates a medical record owns that record.” 

The Australian legislation also draws a line between “ownership” and “the right to access” the records, and it obliges the clinics to provide patients with access to their records. 

Guidelines on Dental Records from the Dental Board of Australia state: “Dental practitioners should be aware of local privacy laws that govern the retention of records, which require retention from 7-10 years.” It means that the onus of secure and safe data storage and maintenance lies with the clinics that either have to do it themselves or delegate it to specialised services.

Data security starts with data availability and there is a very simple principle: “Never put data into a program unless you know exactly how to get it out”.  

Computers and software are transitory and relatively cheap. Useful data is, by contrast, very expensive to create, and could last forever. So, if you invest a lot in creating data, then it is rather unreasonable to let someone lock it and not give you the key. Sooner or later, you could end up with data files you can no longer read. There is a paradox: the data is yours but because it is digital, it exists in a proprietary format that you do not own and may have only a temporary licence to use. Ideally, the system you use should save data in formats that are published, open, not protected by patents and royalty-free, such as HTML, TXT, CVS, JPG, PNG. 

Online services (such as Praktika) are providing a much better solution to your data retention problem because they provide data in open formats. The reason for that is the online services are only custodians of the data and they are obliged to provide you with the data upon your request. 

The second part of the data security is the protection against unauthorised access to your data and unauthorised data modifications. It may seem from the first glance that keeping your data on premises is a more secure option than storing it in a Cloud service. However, a simple analysis and the statistics prove the opposite. 

Health industry accounted for around 35% of all data losses and theft in the past two years. This is the highest number of all industries! In comparison, financial institutions are responsible for less than 1%. Majority of the financial institutions operate though private cloud services, while health practitioners still predominantly use out-dated on-premises client-server technologies.  

If the data is stored on premises, it can be stolen with the storage device, copied to another device, destroyed, modified or hijacked. If qualified specialists have physical access to the hardware, they can do anything with the data on it. It is similar to keeping your cash on premises versus keeping it in a bank. Online services like banks can provide much better protection of data by employing enterprise grade protection. They take the responsibility of keeping the services up to date to confront new security threats that exploit system vulnerabilities.

Praktika is capable of enforcing the most strict security measures because it is not using any third-party service providers (like Amazon, Apple, Google, etc), and we are in maximum control of what is happening within our servers. 

All our data centres are Tier 4 grade. They are all located in Australian metropolitan cities, which makes Praktika compliant with all the Australian Federal and State level legal requirements concerning the handling of health data. Our clients’ data never leaves Praktika’s Private Cloud and it is under our protection and surveillance all the time.

For more information, call 1300 325 735 or visit praktika.com.au. 

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