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Supporting Your Practice

Paper versus Digital Record Keeping: What’s Best for Dental Practices?


While many dental offices have long been using digital records, many dentists have reservations about fully making the switch from paper to server.

Recently, CDA Oasis received a question from a reader about just this dilemma. They wanted to know:

What is the difference between paper and digital dental records and what are the risks that dentists face when using digital dental records? Further, what solutions can dentists implement to prevent the loss or hacking of files?

In this edition, frequent Oasis contributor and cyber security expert, Anne Genge is here to help answer this question. While Anne typically joins us to talk about cyber security, emerging technology, and limiting cyber risks in dental practices, today, she lends her expertise to educate our viewers about paper versus digital records debate.

About Anne Genge

Anne is the Co-founder and CEO of Alexio, a hi-tech company offering unique automated solutions to defend the security of computer systems for healthcare practices. She is also a Certified Information Privacy Professional with a specialization in dentistry and holds certifications for HIPAA Security and PCI Compliance. At Alexio, Anne and her team work with dental and medical professionals to minimize data risk and maximize patient care.

In this OASIS conversation, Anne reviews presentation slides to talk about:

  • Key practical differences between digital and paper records.
  • Risks of using paper records in your practice.
  • Benefits of using digital records including access to information.
  • Risks of keeping dental records.
  • How to keep digital records safe using a long term, multi-practice and policy approach.
  • Training your team to protect your practice from cyber attacks.
  • Protecting patient information using encryption or CDA Secure Send.
  • Working with service providers to ensure server and network security.
  • What dentists need to know about backups, corruption, testing, misconfiguration, restoring data.
  • Conducting security risk assessments on systems and networks.


Read/download the transcript of the conversation (PDF)

Full Conversation (8.40″)

We want to hear from you!

Leave a comment about this post in the box below, send your feedback by email or call us at 1-855-716-2747.

Until next time!

CDA Oasis Team



  1. Mark Antosz April 29, 2019

    Hard to believe this is even a topic in this day and age. We went from paper to full electronic charting in 1992. The only documents we kept were financial agreements and informed consent on paper, and those we started scanning in around 2005. There is no reason on earth to keep paper in this day and age. Yes, you need to back up and you need to secure your communications, but that’s not any kind of big effort. There are only tens of thousands of dentists who are fully into electronic charting; paper only is in the decided minority.

  2. Darrell Pruitt April 29, 2019

    Dear Anne Genge,

    When a patient asks whether dental EHRs are as secure as paper dental records, how should a dentist respond?

    Darrell Pruitt DDS

    1. Darrell Pruitt May 8, 2019

      Excuse me for sounding impatient, but why has Oasis not responded to the question: Are electronic dental records more secure than paper?

  3. Darrell Pruitt May 25, 2019

    Dear Canadian Dental Association Oasis discussions, and Anne Genge, CEO of Alexio:

    “Are EHRs less secure than paper dental records?” I came across a study performed a year ago which I think you will agree answers that unpopular, yet increasingly important question which spawned this Oasis conversation seven months ago: “Q2 2018 PROTENUS BREACH BAROMETER – 3.14M Patient Records Breached As Patients Are Increasingly Anxious About Health Data Security,” by Protenus, Inc. in Collaboration with DataBreaches.net.


    The study found that between April and June of 2018,142 health care data breaches were reported, impacting 3.14 million records (Three times the number reported in the first part of the year). 23 of the incidents involved paper, affecting 158,711 records, or 5% of 3.14 million.

    Contrary to Anne Genge’s suggestion that digital and paper are equally vulnerable to data breaches, according to the study, a patient’s identity is 95% more likely to be breached from an EHR than from paper records.

    Should a retraction be posted?

  4. Union Alarm June 6, 2019

    I think with the conception of cloud technology; it is safest to use the digital format as then there is no chance that you will lose any of it. I have made sure all of my clients use the cloud.


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