ATTN Dental Offices: HIPAA Windows Compliance 2020

Do you remember the technology scare of the new millennium?  The year 2000 was supposed to wreak all kinds of havoc on computer systems all over the world…it was the end of the world…everything was going to come to screeching halt.  The ball dropped, the time became 12:01am and…..nothing. For the most part. Nothing. Life in general is full of examples of forecasts that never come to fruition, but that is just a part of life.  We try and try to be better at forcasting things from the weather to earthquakes to technology issues. While this issue may not be so much of a forecast as it is a forewarning, here’s what we know.


Microsoft, with its hold on most of the computer systems in the world, has determined that on January 14, 2020 they are no longer going to be supporting any windows system before windows 10.  That means especially virus and other malicious software patches and updates which then makes those other operating systems vulnerable and no longer HIPAA compliant. Along with Windows 7, if you are still using Windows XP, support for it ended in 2014, or Windows Vista (ended 2017), they have been out of support for a while now.  Windows 8 will still have extended support through 2023.  


Not only are their OS issues with support, but also with Windows Server 2003 and 2008.  Microsoft stopped support for Server 2003 in 2015 and support for 2008 is going to end the same time as Windows 7, January 14, 2020.  


What does all of this mean for my office?  First off, you need to run an assessment on all of your equipment.  It may still be free to upgrade your windows 7 computers to Window 10.  Some of the Windows 7 licenses will still convert to Windows 10 licenses.  


Second, and I know what you are thinking… “We haven’t had an issue ever with any virus threat or security breach…so… what’s the big deal?”  It’s a lot like insurance. It’s not a big deal at all until it is a big deal.  Protecting PHI should be a big deal, and all it takes is once and it could destroy your business.  So it might mean upgrading software. It might mean just getting new equipment with the HIPAA compliant software already installed.  You probably need the upgrade anyway. 


Take a few minutes and read through the many articles on the Web about Microsoft and HIPAA compliance and you will find there are many more programs that you might be using that don’t fall under the HIPAA compliance laws anymore because they are no longer supported.  They become open gateways for someone who is looking to lie, cheat, or steal and there is always someone looking.


This can be a huge undertaking, but check with your IT, come up with a plan, and make sure that your systems are compliant, because when you are asked, it will be a pretty easy one to check.  Your operating systems are either compliant, or they aren’t.


If you have any questions or any comments, reach out to us…. we’ll be glad to assist in any way we can.


Scott Tageson

IT Manager

Dental ClaimSupport


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