If HIPAA rules are breached on purpose or by accident the financial implications can be massive. Even if a breach is discovered but you do not adhere to the HIPAA notification rule you could still be subjects to sanctions.
There are other associated, and immeasurable, costs linked to HIPAA violations. Chief among these is the damage to your reputation. If a breach occurs then you may find that you lose existing clients and find it extremely difficult to attract new people to your company or clinic.
You should follow the below tips to ensure that you maintain HIPAA compliance and always stores your patient’s private health information securely.
HIPAA Digital Safety: Be Extra Careful!
Advances in technology mean that sharing information with clients and business partners is extremely straightforward and efficient. However, due to this ease of operation it also means that there is a much higher danger of sensitive information being left accessible due to human error or a technological failure. There’s are lot os security measures you should implement such as encrypting software and using firewalls.
In addition to this there are a number of step you could implement to ensure your employees do not expose confidential PHI. They include:
- Amending computing device settings to require users to enter a password if the computer has been unattended for a set duration of time. This mitigate against exposure caused by an employee neglecting to log off their workstation.
- Use a generic subject line for emails and file attachments when contacting patients or providers. Subject lines are not encrypted like the text portion of the message so Protected health information (PHI) can also be unknowingly revealed.
- Make sure that your intended recipients also implement HIPAA-compliant apps prior to sending any data using text messaging. It is vital to use a secure system that doesn’t allow message to remain on a server.
- If it is necessary to work on a patient file when out of the office see to it that there is a standard protocol to ensure that data remains safe.
- If a device is being sold, replace or destroyed have someone investigate to see if all patient information ihas been deleted.
2. Do not allow the use of digital of phone cameras
Photos should not be permitted at your clinic as there is a chance that unsuspecting patients will be pictured in the background. The same foes for staff, they should not take pictures of PHI and share with colleagues without knowing if it is safe to do so. The safest thing to do is put in place a photo ban for patients and staff. It would also be wise to conduct training for staff to so they are aware that they should not post any work-related information on social media.
3. Create a Standard Patient Contact Protocol
Using a patient’s work number when they expressed a wish to be contact on their personal cellphone is not compliant with HIPAA. See to it that your staff are always double checking the patient’s preferred contact method before attempting to call them.
4. Conduct ongoing staff training
Regular staff training sessions are crucial and will give your staff information that will assist them in avoiding accidental HIPAA breaches. If it not sufficient to have one training sessions as information may not be retained over time. Ongoing, less formal training is also important.
HIPAA compliance training and staff education may seem like an arduous task but it is vital to allow staff members avoid breaching the data protection legislation. Follow the above tips to put your organization in a strong position to ensure HIPAA compliance.