Hygienists as Business Associates and Covered Entities

It’s an exciting time to be a dental hygienist! Advances in technology and research are rapidly changing the delivery of preventive and therapeutic care. The profession has come a long way from scaling with a single-ended sickle scaler and polishing with a belt-driven handpiece.

Opportunities for hygienists are emerging in non-traditional practice settings and expanding scope of care alike. Some of the emerging roles include areas such as integrative health systems, long-term care, community dental health coordinators and advanced dental therapists. However, these new frontiers also bring new areas of responsibility and risk. Are you prepared to meet new opportunities as well as any regulatory obligations they present?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is one significant regulatory obligation. Hygienists are considered members of the workforce when employed by private practitioners, as opposed to more independent or non-traditional work environments. However, depending upon the laws in your state or province, you can easily become a Business Associate or Covered Entity when entering into different practice settings and business arrangements. Do you know the difference? And even more importantly, are you aware of your legal obligations?

Whether you consider opportunities for practicing independently or entering into provider agreements or any other workforce model, it’s important that you become informed and remain up-to-date about additional legal requirements and obligations. The Institute for Dental Compliance and Risk Management can provide the extra assistance you need, regardless of whether you become a business owner or a Business Associate.