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Balancing Effective Patient Communication with Privacy

patient-communicationA key part of the relationship between the dental practice and the patient is trust. A dental practice wants (and has to) make sure that all communications that relate to a patient are as secure as they can be. This applies to everything from the practice website to messages between doctors about a patient.

Nowadays, patients are increasingly concerned about data privacy. Several high-profile data breaches in recent years have flamed the fears of one’s private information being compromised. The patient needs to feel confident that their dental practice is doing everything they can to safeguard the confidential information the patient has disclosed.

On the other side of this issue is the free flow of information that is so vital to the day-to-day operation of a modern dental practice. A dental practice needs to receive information from patients, communicate appointment times and reminders, coordinate care with other providers and release information on a daily basis. Without the convenience of modern technology these systems could never operate at the level of efficiency required for a practice to be effective and competitive in today’s market.

Here at Sesame, we long ago recognized the delicate balance our clients must maintain in this tension between efficiency and security. Together with our partners in the dental care and dental technology fields, we have worked tirelessly to deliver solutions that are both convenient and secure.

Here are some of the ways we help dental practices achieve these goals:

  • Secure Websites: We recently introduced complimentary SSL certificates to all of our member websites. This technology encrypts the traffic between the patient’s device (Laptop, Mobile Device) and the website. SSL provides an additional layer of security and a visual indicator for patients (i.e. Green Lock Authenticity Icon in the URL).  This gives the website visitor, who is a potential patient, a confidence-boosting first impression of the dental practice and their  dedication to patient privacy before they even set foot in their office. In addition, having an SSL certificate on your website can help improve your Search Engine Rank.
  • Secure Patient Portal: We allow your patients to access their diagnostic images, appointment information, financial transactions, and more through a dedicated patient portal. Patients can stay on top of their treatment, confirm appointments, and make payments in an SSL-encrypted environment at a time and place that is convenient for them. Offering this in your practice not only gives the patient a safe place to do business with you online, but also provides an efficient self-service option that saves your team precious time and boosts your profitability.
  • Secure Messaging: Referrals to and from dental specialists are like oxygen for a dental practice. A successful office will have systems in place to process these quickly and efficiently without inconveniencing their colleagues. Unfortunately, up until now, those systems relied almost exclusively on email as the communication method with referrers. Basic knowledge of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) informs us that email is not a safe way to exchange Protected Health Information (PHI). Even if the connection to your email service provider is encrypted, as soon as your email leaves their servers, it will travel over the internet unencrypted and exposed. However, if you want a truly end-to-end encryption between you are your colleagues, you would need to install the same encryption software in your office as well as theirs. This is a tremendous inconvenience for your colleagues and the reason why encrypted email has never taken off.
    To balance the ease of email and the security of end-to-end encryption, we have created an alternative solution – Sesame Secure Messaging. This feature does not require you or your colleagues to install any additional software beyond what you already have. Sesame Secure Messaging works like an invitation-only webmail service. You invite your colleagues by email to set up a free secure mailbox, which they can use to see messages you send them without ever needing to send any PHI over email. In fact, any messages containing PHI never leave our secure servers where all data is encrypted at rest. This means that even if the servers are breached, the data cannot be accessed without proper credentials . When you and your colleagues sign in, you view the messages over an encrypted connection which exceeds the US Military standard for Top Secret communications. The best part is that, as a Sesame member, your Practice Management System list of patients and colleagues acts as an address book within Secure Messaging, so you don’t ever need to manually re-enter any patient or colleague information. And if you have a compatible imaging system, the images for each patient you refer out are available to you within Secure Messaging. You can add files of most types manually to your message as well.

In conclusion, Sesame Communications started as a software company that served the dental  community and we are still 100% committed to making your office more productive, efficient and cyber-safe.

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Sesame is an industry leader in integrated, cloud-based marketing and patient-engagement solution designed exclusively for your practice. We know that effective patient communication is vital to the success of your practice and the efficiency of your team. With Sesame, you can take your practice to the next level, allowing you to concentrate on what’s really important – your patients!