Safeguarding confidential patient information is getting more complicated today. Technology is playing an integral role when it comes to how we document our patients, manage their records, schedule their visits, and handle prescriptions and billing.
If you are a healthcare provider, you should set up clear strategies to ensure you have protected your patient information and kept it confidential. You should also be familiar with laws like HIPAA (Health Information Portability and Accountability).
However, this does not mean you will always be safe from privacy breaches. And in case they happen, you should not just be worried about legal issues but also your reputation and the trust of your patients. So, how can you safeguard confidential patient information?
Here are some best practices to follow.
1. Encrypt Patient Data
As a healthcare provider, you are supposed to observe HIPAA rules. HIPAA requires you to ensure patient data is encrypted when you are transmitting it over any network. This ensures that even if someone gained access to this data, they cannot read it.
Anyone you send this data to needs to have a key that they can use to decrypt the data. Fortunately, you do not have to encrypt data separately when you want to share it. You should, instead, make sure that you are using applications that can do the work for you.
For instance, if you are running a disabled care house, you can use an IDD support software application that not only encrypts the data for you but also helps you to track and manage all data, no matter who you are sharing it with.
2. Do Not Share Passwords
You might be tempted to trust every other person that you work with and share passwords with them. Well, this is a mistake you should avoid at all costs. Instead, ensure your staff only have the passwords they need for their work.
In addition, you should not keep the same passwords for long. Apart from setting complex passwords that cannot be guessed, you also need to change them regularly. If not, you will commit a security mistake that can cost your organization millions.
Chances are that you have several people working for you. Even though you should provide access to the systems that they need for their work, ensure that each one of them uses a unique access code. This way, you can track what they access easily.
3. Implement Workplace Best Practices
All your staff members are supposed to ensure that patient information is safe. This is supposed to be implemented as part of your culture. Ensure that your staff members know what to do immediately a patient comes in.
For instance, if a patient is supposed to fill out any forms or provide you with their insurance information, you should make sure that they can do that discreetly without any problems. You can create ample spaces for your patients to provide any information that you need.
In addition, since you will have to discuss the health matters of your patient, ensure you have private rooms in your facility for that. Your staff members or even other patients should not hear what you are discussing with another patient.
4. Educate Your Staff
No matter how good your staff might be when it comes to dealing with your patients, safeguarding those patients’ information is a different game. They might not know what to do or what measures to take to ensure that the information is safe.
You, therefore, need to ensure that they not only understand how important it is to protect this information but also how to actually protect it. You can start by educating them on the regulations they need to observe and the measures you have set for them.
When you are onboarding new employees, take them through privacy compliance and make sure they know everything they should do to protect patient data. You can even provide them with policy booklets for continued learning.
5. Create Different Access Levels
According to HIPAA, you are only supposed to gain access to the patient information that you need for your work. You should enforce this rule for all your employees. Of course, different roles will need different levels of access.
For instance, your receptionist will not require the same level of access as your nurse. You, therefore, need to ensure that you have set access levels based on what every staff member is doing. This will help you avoid leaking information to people who do not need it.
If you are a healthcare provider, you must have seen different rules and regulations that you need to observe. Well, for you to be effective, you should follow the best practices discussed in this article.