Whether you’re opening your own practice, or you’ve been investigating how software can make your day-to-day schedule smoother, one of the most important factors to keep top of mind is compliance. Typically under-advertised, a product’s ability to comply with provincial or federal law is what dictates your own office’s adherence to guidelines, and also your exposure to legal risk as a business owner. Understanding the ground rules for software that serves your patients can mean taking a lot of stress off your day-to-day routine.
In Canada, devices and software that serve any purpose to do with health or the body of a person are classified into four groups. Everything from a mouth mirror to digital patient records require strict regulatory conditions, regardless of which province you call home while providing oral healthcare. While compliance is frequently a moving target, organizations that understand the value of staying ahead of rapid change are most likely to welcome your questions and concerns.
Your Class 2 License
Depending on the level of integration that could most benefit your practice, there are a variety of key touchpoints that are inevitably stored on servers and hard drives. Patient records including dental x-rays and medical history represent a medium to high risk for exposing private information. The federal body, Health Canada, designates any device with medium or high risk to patient info as being Class II.
If you’re shopping around or are interested in practice management software, by law, every product that directly impacts patients must clearly state that it has been licensed in accordance with Health Canada. Keep an eye out for licenses when examining products, or ask how a company complies when speaking with a sales representative.
Updates to Compliance
The climate for regulation, whether provincial or federal, is an ever-changing current. As our laws and regulations update, offices are placed with the burden of adjusting to the shifting landscape. As many provinces and lawmakers look to their neighbors for inspiration, one change can quickly have ramifications for the other side of the country. For example, imagine even a small change to the requirements for record handling, how your provider reacts could leave you liable or on the hook for update costs.
While some software providers will charge for updates outside of their roadmap (and even updates within it), many will take the time to ensure their products remain compliant for free.
Staying Informed and Educated
When our smartphone apps update, developers will usually go between details to explain, in shorthand, their new offer or simply thank their customers for loyalty. As a business owner wrapped up in compliance, with an already packed schedule, you are required to understand the updates and changes, even if you’re not in control of them.
Compliance, regulations, and laws are frequently wrapped up in legalese or highly technical language. While you may hear about new requirements from a dental college or professional body, products that additionally explain how they meet legal standards in plain language ensure that everyone in the office understands compliance and their responsibilities.
The framework for how dentists operate across Canada is a constantly shifting set of necessary rules. Being caught off guard with new changes has very real impacts on the business you run, but compliance doesn’t need to be the thing that occupies your hours. Don’t be afraid to press your dental software provider on how they view compliance update and changes, so you can stay focused on providing your patients with great care.