Online HIPAA Compliant Forms for Dental Practices

In this ultimate guide, learn everything you need to know about creating, sharing, and managing HIPAA compliant digital forms for your dental practice.

Collecting patient details helps you run your practice more efficiently and provide better service. By streamlining your patient information collection with easy-to-use HIPAA compliant online forms, you make it easier to manage your patients and their records.

With HIPAA compliant forms, you can confidently collect patient information securely for different office needs, including patient intake, consent release, appointment scheduling, and more!

To help you automate your patient information collection, we’ll cover the following:

  • HIPAA compliant online forms overview
  • Online form features: what your online digital forms should do
  • Making the transition to digital forms

Before we get into the nitty gritty of how to transition to digital forms, we’ll address why they are so important to use and the requirements they must follow.

HIPAA compliant online forms overview

Having accurate, up-to-date patient information is essential for managing an effective practice and keeping your patients satisfied. To automate and simplify the collection, storage, and management of electronic personal health information (PHI), it’s essential to use a HIPAA compliant form solution.

HIPAA compliant online forms are simply digital forms that are HIPAA compliant. They are essential for businesses and practices that operate in an industry that collects, stores, and manages protected health information (PHI) of their customers or patients. For online forms, the most important consideration is that you’re following the HIPAA Security Rule.

To make sure your forms are up to the HIPAA standards and properly protect patient information, we’ll explain why HIPAA compliant forms are so important, requirements you need to follow, and outline the top features to look for.

Why digital forms are so important

Managing patient information using paper and filing cabinets is outdated and inefficient. Digital patient forms modernize your practice, allowing you to automate repetitive tasks and save time with collecting, managing, and transferring patient data. With everything done online, your team saves valuable hours that can be put towards managing your practice and perfecting the patient experience.

Online HIPAA compliant forms offer your practice a number of benefits:

  • Eliminate paperwork (including filing, printing, and shredding)
  • Improved data accuracy
  • Free up administrative resources
  • Reduce patient wait times in-office
  • Providers have more time to prepare treatment and care
  • Protect patients’ privacy and data
  • Streamline workflows by automating data collection and transfer
  • Can be easily converted into readable reports and visualizations
  • Are cost-effective
  • Lead to happier, more satisfied patients

While HIPAA compliant forms offer a wide range of benefits, due to the nature of the information being collected, they need to adhere to a number of standards that safeguard the privacy of your patients. We cover those in the next section.

Online HIPAA form requirements

To protect the individuals you are collecting data from, online HIPAA forms have to adhere to two main regulations: the HIPAA Privacy Rule, which establishes standards for the protection of health information and determines what information falls under this protection, and the HIPAA Security Rule, which establishes the standards that must be followed to adequately protect, store, and manage electronic protected health information.

To achieve this, there are a few requirements that your online forms have to meet:

  1. Your web-form provider must store your patients’ data securely. Make sure your provider signs a Business Associate Agreement, binding them to follow regulations for the collection, storage, and use of ePHI.
  2. Many form softwares send automated email notifications to account administrators and users. Since this can compromise the privacy and personal information of a user, you must ensure that no health-related information is shared in this manner, and that ePHI is only accessible via approved channels.
  3. Data encryption is an essential part of securing data, especially when it’s being collected and transferred online. Make sure data is safeguarded properly when in transit, and use adequate encryption so that it can’t be accessed without proper authorization.
  4. Collect - and keep - a record of patient consent. Offer patients a consent form to identify which channels a doctor can use to share ePHI with them. Make sure this authentication can be verified in the future.

To follow these guidelines, you’ll need to make sure that all of your different forms adhere to these regulations. With a HIPAA compliant form builder, you ensure that all of your forms are HIPAA compliant and optimized for collecting patient information.

Online form features: what your digital forms should do

Dynamic online forms offer more complexity than traditional, paper forms. Because of this, online forms have a wide range of potential features that they can employ. Some of these features are designed to improve the patient experience, while others are meant to make creating, managing, and extracting data from forms expedient and efficient.

Since there is such variety among what online forms can offer, we’ve broken them down into features that are essential, advanced features that are useful to have, and integrations with your practice management system.

Must have patient form features

When handling patients’ private health information, you need to be extra cautious to handle it with care. Safety and security are essential in collecting and storing data, and you’ll need to make sure your forms adhere to this. Because of this, there are some ‘musts’ that you’ll need to account for when using digital patient forms.

Below, we cover some of the essential features that most - if not all - HIPAA compliant forms should have.

Product Features
Description
Why it's important
Product Features
Description
Why it's Important
Online, digitized forms
Eliminate paperwork (printing, scanning, filing, and shredding), instead, manage all patient and practice paperwork digitally from one convenient place.
Online, centralized access makes it convenient to manage patient records while keeping customer data secure.
HIPAA compliance
Form submissions protect patient data up to the standards of HIPAA compliance. Access to submissions and PHI is restricted to appropriate parties.
HIPAA compliancy is required by healthcare providers like dentists, doctors, and other medical professionals.
Encrypt data for secure storage
Form submissions and reports should be encrypted to ensure patient health information is kept safe while being stored and transmitted.
Ensuring safe data storage and transfer is essential for adhering to HIPAA and PHI guidelines and regulations.
Intake form sequences
Unify related forms into form packets, allowing patients to submit different types of data in sequence. Collect personal information, medical history, and more.
Being able to create form packets allows you to simplify the process for users, and collect all related information at once.
Custom form builder
Quickly and easily create and customize HIPAA compliant forms for any purpose conveniently online; from patient intake to feedback. 
Creating custom online forms makes it easy for you to personalize your intake process and gain valuable feedback.
Mobile-responsive + SMS forms
Giving patients the ability to submit forms from anywhere lets you convert and onboard patients on the spot, increasing conversions and appointments.
Patients want the ability to complete patient intake and feedback from their smartphones for added convenience.

Advanced form features that are nice to have

Now that we’ve covered the basics, we’ll cover some additional features that can make your digital forms stand out to patients. Learn how to optimize them for current best practices and modernize the patient experience.

Below, we cover some advanced form features that can simplify your operations and procedures, and offer a better experience to your patients.

Product Features
Description
Why it's important
Product Features
Description
Why it's Important
Required form fields
Set certain form fields to be required prior to completion and submission, ensuring patients can’t omit essential information.
Make sure you get all the information you need from patients by setting required form fields.
Autocomplete forms
Create forms that autofill known or repeated information, saving the user valuable time on data entry.
The less users have to fill in, the more likely they are to complete your forms quickly and completely.
Conditional logic forms
Create dynamic forms that allow you to complete sections in sequence, removing extra information and keeping the user focused on each individual section.
Keep users on track by breaking longer form submissions up into digestible sections they can do individually.
Card photo uploads
Give patients the ability to submit identity cards and insurance information via a picture. Staff can then authenticate their information before they visit your office.
This makes submitting personal information and payment convenient for patients, and shortens their time in office.
Embed forms on your website
Directly embed forms onto your website so users can complete patient intake, appointment requests, and more whenever is most convenient.
With a form prominently featured and easily accessible on your site, new visitors can easily complete it.
Convert PDFs to digital forms
Easily turn PDF documents into HIPAA compliant digital forms so that you can start collecting patient information online.
Save time replicating paper forms, easily converting them to online forms you can instantly use.

Practice management integration features

For digital forms to be most useful, they need to integrate seamlessly with the systems you already use, including your practice management system and your electronic health records solution. Below, we cover some of the most important integrations and features that forms can have to enhance them.

Product Features
Description
Why it's important
Product Features
Description
Why it's Important
Automatic sync with PMS
Automatically syncs with your practice management system, so health information and history is easily captured and stored in your database.
This saves your team time transferring and organizing data, as patient information will be sortable and organized.
Seamless integration with EHR
Data needs to be quickly and efficiently transmitted between your forms and electronic health records system to ensure up-to-date information.
Authenticate, collect, and manage patient information with seamless EHR integration.
Two-way data integration
Eliminate duplicate data - from double entries - with two-way integration for solutions. Keep systems clean and free of repeated records.
Duplicate data can lead to errors and - at the very least - headaches. Keep all information clean and accurate.
Sync with in-office devices
Conveniently sync your digital forms with your in-office devices, such as iPads and other smart devices that help you manage patients.
Make it easy for your team to collect data in and out of the office, and transfer data seamlessly.

Making the transition to digital forms

One of the biggest challenges is making the actual transition from paper to digital forms. You’ll need to migrate all your paper forms into a digital format, including your records. However, this investment in time and energy will pay for itself and then some in saved time and efficiency you gain from having digital dental forms.

We’ll explain why this transition may be easier than you think, as well as the main pros and cons of making the switch.

Switching isn’t as time consuming as you think

Transitioning from paper to paperless forms seems like a daunting, time-consuming task. While it’s true that there are some unavoidable steps, this short-term investment will lead to long-term gains, and it will get you there in no time by automating data collection, shortening patients’ time in-office, and improving your administrative staff’s efficiency.

Here at NexHealth, we know how important a speedy, efficient, flawless transition is, which is why we make sure our team helps you manage this switch within a week! Learn how we can get you up and running with HIPAA digital forms with a free demo today!

Benefits and Drawbacks of Going Digital

Digitizing your patient forms has many advantages and very few drawbacks. Overall, using online forms saves your administrative staff time by automating data collection and management, allows the practitioner to get in more appointments by reducing patients’ time-in office, and offers patients added convenience.

Below, we outline the main advantages and disadvantages of transitioning to online HIPAA forms.

Eliminate the need for paperwork

Reduce the amount of printing, scanning, filing, and shredding you’ll need to do by getting rid of paperwork. Online documents are easier and faster to enter and manage.

Takes time to set up and train staff

Installing, setting up, and adopting the new system will take time (and resources), and you won't see the full results until this has been completed.

Improve data accuracy and quality

With customizable, dynamic forms, you can extract accurate information from patients. Required fields ensure you get the data you want while restrictions can limit input errors and improve data quality.

Time commitment of digitizing offline forms

Digitizing your existing forms can be a serious time commitment depending on the extent of your records. While this is a big task, it offers a huge payoff when complete.

Free up administrative resources

Save your staff time from collecting patient information and transferring data from paper forms across treatment and health record systems, allowing them to devote time to other tasks.

Some legacy patients refuse to adopt digital methods

There will be certain patients that (out of either struggle or stubbornness) want to continue using paper forms. You'll need to convince them to switch or continue to offer the traditional option.

Reduce patient wait times in-office

Having patients complete intake, medical history, and clinical forms ahead of their visit reduces their time in the office, and saves your staff the time of collecting this data in-person.

Potential errors associated with patient input

Online patient forms - just like paper forms - are susceptible to data input errors. Unlike paper forms, you can implement restrictions that make it harder for users to make errors.

Providers have more time to prepare treatment

With patient information readily available prior to an appointment, providers can review their information ahead of time and properly prepare for treatment and care.

Protect patients' privacy and data

Online HIPAA forms protect patient information during collection, while being stored, when in transit, and when being accessed by providers.

Helps you streamline workflows

Easily improve and streamline workflows. With online forms, information collection and transfer can be automated, saving your team tedious steps.

Convert data into readable reports and visualizations

When using electronic records, it's extremely easy to turn your data into readable reports and beautiful data visualizations for deep analysis.

Extremely cost-effective

The costs of these solutions easily pay for themselves when you factor in the time, productivity, and convenience that your administrative staff, patients, and you as a provider gain back.

Lead to more satisfied patients

Having HIPAA forms that can automate data collection and allow patients to submit information from the comfort of their home improves patient satisfaction.

Getting started with digital forms

Now that you’re convinced of their value, we’ll show you just how easy it is to start using online HIPAA forms.

Step 1: Research and choose a solution for online HIPAA forms

Compare HIPAA online form builder options, and choose the solution that fits your needs. Make sure that the option you select facilitates the form types you want, such as patient intake, medical history, and patient appointments. If certain features are important to you, such as required form fields and a fast onboarding process, be sure to prioritize those features.

Step 2: Install and set up the new system

Whether you’re using a desktop app or a web-based service, you’ll need to download, install, and set up your digital HIPAA forms solution. This means ensuring that the system is set up correctly and configured to your specifications. Make sure all team members have access and that the system is operating as it should.

Step 3: Set up integrations with PMS and EHR

Once the system has been installed and configured, you’ll want to set up integrations with your existing solutions. Most importantly, you’ll want to connect your form builder with your electronic health records (EHR) and practice management (PM) solutions, automating record collection and ensuring that you’re always relying on up-to-date patient information.

Step 4: Train staff on the new solution

With the system working and access set up, your team can now get in and start working. Have your team explore the new system and familiarize themselves with it, and offer training to teach your team to get acquainted with the new solution. Run test scenarios and test for issues, making sure the new setup will work for your needs.

Step 5: Create and customize your digital forms

Create a series of online forms for your different needs, customized with the input fields you want. You can also upload PDF or scanned versions of paper forms to be turned into digital forms. Set required fields, restrictions on fields to ensure accurate responses, and add other features to make it more convenient for your team to collect valuable patient information (and save time doing it!).

Step 6: Share your forms with patients!

That’s all there is to it! Share your personalized forms with patients at the right point in their lifecycle. Connect new patients with intake forms, allow patients to book appointments online and submit relevant information about their treatment, and connect patients to feedback forms after they’ve left your office.

Create your own digital HIPAA compliant forms with NexHealth

Now that you know how digital forms can improve your life - and the lives of your dental team - and how to set them up, you can get started using them for your dental practice. Save your staff time onboarding and transfering data with automated patient records populated from your digital forms!

Learn how you can get started with NexHealth today!

Want to learn more? Book your free demo today!

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