Is That a HIPAA in Your Hip Pocket?

By Kirt E. Simmons D.D.S., Ph.D.

In this day and age it is “hip” to be connected everywhere and very easy given the nearly universal presence of powerful “smart” phones and tablets connected to the Internet.  My iPhone is in essence a much more powerful computer than my first Mac I bought in 1986 and able to communicate to others via text messaging, E-mail, internet blogs or forums, web sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and voice.  In this day and age it is easily possible to access one’s patient records on such a device or a tablet, copy any of the information and relay it via any of the aforementioned methods.  It is also very easy to get high quality photographs with these devices, including of patients or any of their records.  Any of your patients with such devices can also easily capture photos of themselves or others in your treatment areas.

“Great!” You say, but beware of potential HIPAA violations with these devices.  Many health care workers and organizations in other environments (mostly medical to date) have run afoul of HIPAA in this regard and paid heavy fines, been personally sued, lost their jobs and/or lost public credibility/trust.  The classic example is the health care worker who “tweets” or posts on other social media sites about celebrities they have seen/treated in their facility (without the patient’s consent/knowledge of course!).  Even non-celebrities but extreme or “shocking” cases, easily identifiable without “naming names”, have been the subject of these illegal disclosures and resultant negative consequences.

As a health care provider, and especially if you are the owner or proprietor of your practice, you are responsible for any breaches of patient confidentiality by yourself or any of your employees and you are also responsible for that confidentiality in your facility.  For this reason many medical offices now require patients to turn off any cell phones, computers, tablet computers, or cameras while in treatment areas or leave them outside treatment areas.  The HIPAA regulations also require that ALL transmission of personal health information (PHI) be “protected”.  Common E-mail, text messaging, social media sites, etc. are not “secure and protected”.  So even if the sharing of PHI is allowed between two entities (say yourself and the patient’s general dentist), doing so by the above means is NOT allowed (but IS required to be noted and tracked by yourself!).  The ADA has some excellent resources discussing the proper sharing of PHI I encourage you to follow (ADA Technical Reports No. 1048, Attachment of DICOM Dataset Using Email, and No. 1060, Secure Exchange and Utilization of Digital Images in Dentistry, are available for download purchase from the ADA Catalog at www.adacatalog.org or by calling 1-800-947-4746).

Using a Simple Video Camera for Staff and Patient Education

By Dr. Ron Jacobson

Photo courtesy of Dr. Ron Jacobson

Video media can be an extremely powerful and easy-to-use communication tool for patient education, staff training, and marketing applications. In a busy practice, finding time to train new members is always a challenge. And let’s face it, sometimes staff members need to see a procedure several times before it sticks.  When we recently hired our newest staff member, I asked her to use a simple Flip video camera to film our more seasoned assistants as they demonstrated sterilization, lab techniques, and other clinical procedures. We then edited this footage into a series of short training videos and saved them on our server for viewing from any workstation in the office. This can be an efficient way to create custom training films that contain tips on everything from proper camera settings for clinical photography to avoiding bubbles in impressions and model pour ups. 

One of the most beneficial uses of video technology in our practice has been helping patients prepare for their orthognathic surgery.   Many patients are so apprehensive about the procedure and the post-operative healing that they opt out before the date actually arrives.  We recently started filming our patients one week post-surgery and then at regular intervals during the healing process until their braces were removed.  We ask them about the level of pain they experienced and the amount of time it took before they were able to return to school (work).  We ask them to describe their swelling and numbness and their diet early in the healing process.   We also ask them the most important question, “Knowing what you know now, would you go through it again?” Our patients have been eager to share their experiences and are frank in their discussions.  These unscripted, heart-felt interviews are truly inspiring and much more helpful than a doctor’s description of what to expect post-surgically.

Videos can easily be created without a major investment in equipment or software.  Although they do take some planning and time, especially early on, the investment is well worth the effort.

Here are some tips for shooting your own videos:

  1. Invest in a small tripod or desk stand – your videos will be of much higher quality if you can prevent movement.
  2. If you are producing a video for patient education, you may want to invest in a high quality video camera with an external microphone.  A camera-mounted directional microphone will improve the audio quality dramatically. For staff training videos, Flip cameras and smart phones will suffice.
  3. The photographer must remain quiet during filming, especially if using a Flip camera or smart phone.  Remember that you are much closer to the microphone than your subjects. If you make comments while interviewing, you will find that you will be much louder than your subject and the video will be much more difficult to edit. If you need the interviewer’s questions to be heard in the final product, position the camera equal distance from both parties, even if it is focused on only one of you. 
  4. While professional lighting is preferred for marketing and practice website videos, natural lighting is usually sufficient for staff and patient education.  Just film in a brightly lit room and make sure there is enough light on your subject’s face.   
  5. Make sure to have your interviewee or one of their parents sign a photo/video release form giving you permission to use the video you just shot.  It also doesn’t hurt to ask the subject you are videotaping if they consent to you using this footage while you are recording. 


Tips for editing your videos include:

  1. Mac Software:  iMovie ($14.99) provides all of the editing, storage and organizational tools that you will need in an easy to use interface.  Final Cut Pro ($299) is a more powerful version of the software with more themes and special effects.
  2. Windows Software:  Windows Live Movie Maker is a free download from the Microsoft website. Abode Premier Elements ($99) is easy to use and more powerful.
  3. If you are new to the video production, watching online tutorials is a quick way to get up to speed.  They don’t take very long and you will be amazed by how simple and user friendly editing software has become.  
  4. Organize your video clips as you copy them from the camera.  Labeling and grouping them together into events will speed up your review and edit process later on.
  5. Back up your data!  Digital media is not safe until is it stored in at least three locations

Creating Content for Your Orthodontic Practice’s Social Media Channels

social-media-bannersCreating a social media presence for your orthodontic practice from scratch may initially sound like a daunting task, but the reality is it’s easier than most first think. There’s simply no reason not to get started if you haven’t done so already. A social media presence for your practice is the perfect way to tell your story, build your brand, and enhance your overall online presence.

If you or your staff needs assistance or advice setting up a social media presence, please know that the AAO is here to assist. Simply contact, Burt Bollinger, Sr. Manager of Marketing/Communications at (314) 292-6556 or via email. As someone who works with the AAO’s social media sites, I am more than happy to walk you or your chosen social media staff member(s) thru the basic steps necessary to start a Facebook page or other social media site.

Having assisted many of our members in setting up their fan pages, the question I hear more than any other is: “Now what? What kind of content should my staff and I be posting?”

Now What?
Just as important as having an online presence is making sure you are keeping it up-to-date. There are several ways to ensure that your practice’s social media output remains vibrant and timely by publishing meaningful content a few times each week.
Your goal should be quality over quantity. Aim for approximately 2-3 posts per week. Remember, each post works to increase your online visibility. But be careful not to overload your followers with too many postings. You don’t want to be added to their block list, which is a lot like a social media “death sentence” for your page.

So…what exactly should you post?
The obvious first step is to use and repurpose your existing content. For example, if your practice has a traditional newsletter or blog, plenty of ideas for postings can be cultivated from these pre-existing resources. Remember, on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, you’re not in the “sales” business. You’re in the “relationship-building” business, so remember the 80-20 rule. So pluck from existing content, but don’t focus solely on trying to “sell” your services.

Other posts you’ll want to make will be links to different areas of your practice’s existing web site. If your site needs a bit of updating to get into shape before sharing, now is the perfect time to do so. For example, make your “About Us” section something worth sharing. Consider doing bios of different staff. Also consider sharing photos of your office.

Another ideal resource for postings is using video captured by you and your staff.

Don’t forget that if you’re going to use video and photos of your patients online, you’ll want to be sure you have had them sign a photo release form.

Finally, in the world of social media, there is no shame in researching what other orthodontists are up to online, and incorporating some of their better ideas into your own efforts. There are plenty of practices out there with active Facebook fan pages, so start searching, exploring, and using their postings to your fans’ benefit. Examples of content include contest ideas you may not have thought of, or new ways to feature successful treatments. Always keep moving forward, and don’t be afraid to try new things.

Promoting Yourself Using Practice Marketing Solutions
Another way to find fresh content is via the AAO. The AAO has also complied many different materials that are ideal for sharing. These materials are contained in an area of the AAO member website called “Practice Marketing Solutions.”This is an area of the web site only available once AAO members are logged in. (Access Practice Marketing Solutions via the My Practice / Marketing section of AAOinfo.org. Or log in, and then click the small banner on the left side of the home page.)The AAO has prepared a video that walks the viewer through AAO Practice Marketing Solutions and addresses how tools offered by the AAO can be used by individual members or groups of members. View the Practice Marketing Solutions Video @ 1:20 for a featurette on Practice Marketing Solutions.In short, you’ll find a wealth of information, much of it perfect for sharing on your sites. The information includes a series of sharable videos from the My Life. My Smile. My Orthodontist.SM series, including numerous patient testimonial videos, a brand new series of instructional videos, a series of AAO webisodes, and the latest television commercials.

So that you can easily share the videos, the AAO is permanently hosting them on both YouTube and Vimeo.

Alternately, you may also download and keep permanent copies of the videos to use where applicable, including hosting them on your own servers.In addition to the great video content, why not select a single AAO brochure

to share each week? Simply download a brochure, re-host it on your own web site, and link to it. It’s a great way to spread helpful information to your patients while also driving traffic back to your practice web site.These are just a few of the ways you can keep your social media sites up-to-date with meaningful content. If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them. Please contact me so that I can share them in future postings.

 

Google Alerts: Are They Talking About Me?

Author: Dr. Greg Jogensen


googlealertsToday’s Internet is a vast network of uncensored, uncontrollable information. Anything goes! You can find anything online. You can say anything online. Whether or not you choose to participate, your practice is already online. People are talking about you. Would you like to know what they’re saying?Search engines are constantly sweeping the web trying to index any information they can find so that it can be accessed when someone is looking. Even if you don’t have a formal website, online directories are automatically including your practice in their database using information from public records, phone listings, memberships, and so on. Not only do they create listings for you without your permission or input, many ask viewers to rate you. These ratings are rarely verified (meaning anyone can write them including your competitors) and are very difficult to get rid of once they are posted.

How can you know when someone is “talking” about you online? Google is the biggest and most widely used search engine available online today. Seven out of ten Internet searches are conducted using Google. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could ask Google to notify you every time someone mentions you or your business online? Google will do that for you, and they’ll do it for free. Their service is called Google Alerts.

Google Alerts are emails automatically sent to you when there are new Google results for any search word that you choose. In other words, if you want to be notified every time someone online mentions Apple Orthodontics, you could create a Google Alert for the phase “Apple Orthodontics,” indicate where you want Google to look (i.e. blogs, news feeds, etc.), how often you want to be notified, the volume of alerts you want to receive, and to which email address you want the results sent. Then imagine that your practice then has a candy buy-back and the local newspaper mentions Apple Orthodontics in a story. When Google sees that reference, it will immediately send you an email with a link to the story in which you are mentioned. Nice!

It goes without saying that every orthodontist should have Google Alerts set up for his own name and the name of his business. You may also want to set up alerts for your colleagues too (just to see what they’re up to J ). Some other great uses of Google Alerts are monitoring developing news stories, keeping current on specific products or technologies, or keeping tabs on your favorite sports team. The ability to have Google keeps its eye on the web for you is amazing… besides being easy and free!

To set up your first Google Alert, just search for “Google Alerts” in where else… Google!