Robust patient privacy and maintaining patient confidentiality are a fundamental component in the American healthcare system. Protecting sensitive health information entrusted to medical professionals is part and parcel of the job.
But when the healthcare industry continues to pivot to digital, how can organizations that deal with patient information maintain confidentiality? This is a growing concern, given that the amount of patient data keeps growing and inadvertent breach of information keeps occurring. In this age of information, it is becoming increasingly important to connect different parts of the healthcare system to create a seamless experience for physicians and patients as well.
Let’s look at a few tips that will help you keep information safe in the medical environment and why it is important to maintain patient confidentiality.
Why is it important to maintain patient confidentiality in the United States?
Breaches to health-related data have severe consequences for both healthcare providers and their patients. Not only does patient information consist of a variety of personally identifiable information (PII), such as names, date of birth, social security number, financial account information that criminals use to commit identity theft, it also includes extremely personal and private health condition information like medical ailments, disabilities, mental health concerns, and more.
In addition to the financial implications of a data breach, some concerns are seldom talked about ramifications such as reputational damages to both patients and the provider.
This is why HIPAA compliance is vital – a law that governs the maintenance of patient information confidentiality.
5 simple, yet remarkably effective tips
Advancement in technology has revolutionized patient confidentiality. How can you maintain patient confidentiality with growing dependence on digital tools and device connectivity?
Develop and implement robust policies and procedures
Covered entities and their business associates should develop robust policies or confidentiality agreements to ensure that all the staff members know what is expected of them in every possible incident that might take place.
The policy agreement, in its essence, should serve as a legal document specifying what type of information cannot be shared without permission outside the working environment and the procedures to maintain patient confidentiality. The policy should be read, understood, and attested by all the members working in the organization. You can also provide a Notice of Privacy Practices with patients to ensure that you are doing everything to uphold strict confidentiality procedures.
Conducting regular training for all the staff members
Regular training sessions should be held for all the staff members, including administrators, nurses, and doctors on why and how they should maintain patient confidentiality. Besides being a mandatory HIPAA requirement, regular employee training serves as a refresher on their duties and what is expected of them.
For the best results, the training process should be made hassle-free. Training sessions that are fun and creative makes it easier for employees to pay more attention and easily remember what was taught. To streamline the training process, you can make use of our robust app, HIPAA Ready. You can input all the training details and set-up training sessions effortlessly.
Pay more attention to personal devices
One of the best ways to maintain patient confidentiality is to restrict the use of mobile devices in inpatient areas. This way you can be sure that no one with malicious intent or inadvertently record or photograph sensitive private information. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is also growing in popularity. When you allow employees to use their personal devices, such as laptops, tablets, or mobile devices, make sure the devices have appropriate security controls. You should also develop clear policies regarding the use of personal devices when accessing sensitive information. The policy should outline the appropriate usage of personal devices and what type of information cannot be accessed with such devices.
Invest in secured storage systems and modern solutions
Due to the expansion in population and the improvement of quality in healthcare, the number of patient data stored in either electronic formats or physical space has increased astronomically. Therefore, many organizations may face challenges with appropriately storing sensitive patient data, both in terms of where large quantities of patient data can be stored, and conveniently access the information. Besides these technical challenges, it is vital to ensure that the highest level of digital security is used when storing patient information.
Many progressive healthcare providers are also using modern biometric patient identification solutions to maintain patient confidentiality. Patient data are encrypted and only allow the actual individual to access medical information by scanning their biometric characteristics. This type of solution has proven effective in eliminating duplicate records and overlays and preventing medical identity theft as well.
Streamline your compliance efforts
Once you have implemented all the technical safeguards, it may be tempting to think that you have everything sorted out. However, maintaining patient confidentiality and ensuring compliance requires making continuous efforts and due diligence. As such, complying with HIPAA can be an arduous and time-consuming process.
However, you can streamline your compliance efforts with our robust software – HIPAA Ready. Through a digital checklist of tasks, meetings, and training information, our solution can reduce administrative burden and complexities. To know more about HIPAA Ready, leave a comment below to schedule a demo.