The healthcare industry and providers are becoming more aware of the changes taking place within the industry and the needs of their patients. Healthcare is becoming more consumer focused, as the generation of tech savvy patients search for providers who not only provide solutions to their healthcare needs, but also positive and personalized care experiences.
Top priorities continue to be security and convenience When healthcare providers increase digital service offerings, HITECH and HIPAA compliance must also be maintained through ensuring that every digital tool used to handle and share healthcare information is selected with patient privacy in mind.
In order to protect your practice, here are five workplace practices you can implement to improve your digital security and protect your patients’ data.
1. Create a written patient confidentiality policy for staff and communicate that policy to patients.
Improve HIPAA compliance and communication by writing a plain language patient confidentiality policy for staff. Be open and honest about what information your staff collects and how the information is shared and handled. Patients will also appreciate the transparency, and staff will have a clearer picture of what they can and can’t do.
2. Practice need-to-know data management.
A busy practice is supported by many providers and administrators, but not every staff member or contractor needs access to every piece of information. Instead of having one device or account circulated throughout your organization, for added accountability each provider or staff member should have their own credentials. In accordance with HIPAA rules, access to specific data should only be granted when it is needed to those who need it for proper use. Don’t share passwords among staff, especially those in different roles.
3. Protect your online and digital accounts.
Enforce a secure password policy and use two-factor authentication where possible to keep prying eyes from your data. Two-factor authentication is based on something you have (like a phone app) and something you know (a password), so it is harder to defeat than a password alone.
4. Separate your practice’s WiFi network from the one for patients and guests.
Many practices or clinics provide a guest WiFi to improve the patient experience. Unfortunately, ill intentioned cyber criminals with access to your open WiF can try to access private organizational and patient files and data. Protect the speed and security of the network that runs your institution by separating your office WiFi from your guest network and securing both with passwords.
5. Use HIPAA-compliant communications software.
A patient may not see a problem with messaging their provider or therapist on social media about a new symptom, but providing online or mobile healthcare services is not as simple as setting up a website or social presence. To ensure the correct individual is accessing the correct data, security must be of the utmost importance, with any form of mobile communications, including email and texting.
Use of a HIPAA compliant communication solution like Lua to make contact with patients ensure patient privacy in both internal and patient-facing communication. Lua lets you initiate conversations with patients, and manage internal staff communications around patient information while keeping it protected.
By following these practices and using the right healthcare tech tools, you can compete in the marketplace while providing your patients with the services they prefer and deserve.