Practice Fined $23,000 for Responding to A YELP Review

April 4, 2023 by†AACD Executive Office

A dental practice in California has been ordered to pay a $23,000 fine and follow a corrective action plan after the dental practice responded to a negative Yelp review by posting patient data online. This placed the practice in violation of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations.

It is important for dentists and healthcare providers to be aware of the risks and regulations related to using social media in respect to the rules of the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) Privacy Rule.

HIPAA Requires a Signed Authorization for Certain Review Reponses

HIPAA regulations require that covered entities obtain a written authorization from patients before disclosing their PHI for marketing purposes. It is a violation of HIPAA to disclose PHI in response to a patient's online review without a signed HIPAA consent form.

It is also a HIPAA violation to confirm that a patient is a patient by responding to their online review in a way that supports or confirms their statement. What this means for medical professionals is that patients may voluntarily offer up information in their review of the dentist but the dentist is not allowed to confirm that information.

It is important for healthcare providers to understand and comply with HIPAA regulations when using review sites like Google, YELP, Healthgrades, Facebook and others. A dentist should seek expert help if necessary to avoid HIPAA compliance risks.

Donít make the same mistake as New Vision Dental, who faced a HIPAA violation due to their lack of knowledge about dental HIPAA compliance. Protect your practice and your patients by understanding and following HIPAA regulations when responding to patient reviews.

HIPAA Requires Signed Authorization to Post Photos with Patients

Social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok and Facebook can be a powerful tools for improving patient care and growing a dental practice, but it's important to understand and follow HIPAA regulations when using the sites.

Facebook allows for patients to post reviews (recommendations) of a practice. Some dentists like to use those reviews on their website but doing so requires obtaining signed HIPAA consent forms before using reviews for promotional purposes.

In addition to review responses when you post photos of patients online you must obtain a signed HIPAA consent form. Any identifiable information without a signed consent form is a direct violation of the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

HIPAA Compliance Conclusion

Social media posts and leveraging online reviews are valuable digital marketing assets for dental practices, but it's crucial to understand and follow HIPAA regulations in order to protect both the practice and the patients.

By obtaining proper consent, you can safely leverage online reviews and social media marketing to improve patient care and grow your practice. Don't risk a dental HIPAA violation, take the time to educate yourself and ensure that you are in compliance with these important regulations.

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