HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is a serious issue in the medical field. There are many rules and regulations that dictate what information can be shared for the security and safety of the patient and their information. As doctors, you’re given the privilege of being trusted with personal information.
We know you’ve all had extensive training in HIPAA regulations. You know the rules. What you may not know is how to properly keep such information private. We’ve listed a couple here but there are many, many ways to avoid HIPAA violations.
Yes, we do mean everything. If you are done with the information on paper, shred it. Many offices have a shred pile and then a time of day or week that they shred. With the amount of paperwork that is bound to go through the office, be sure you invest in a heavy duty shredder and dispose of the shreds properly.
Be Careful What You Write Down
Your system of remembering things may be different than others. If you thrive on notecards or sticky notes to keep you in order so you don’t have to hunt through a file, you’re increasing who can see it. Smaller notes are easier to lose and less likely to be returned. It also tends to increase the volume of the shred pile.
Don’t Stay Logged In
Although there won’t be many people seeing your computer screen, it’s a possibility. Advise the front desk of the same. Having any patient’s information in plain view can get you into trouble. The same is true for loudly speaking with a patient about private matters in public areas of the office, like waiting rooms or hallways.
With the increase in technology over the last several years, many of your exam rooms have computers in them. When you (or your nurses) input patient information into the computer (or perform any other task on it) you want to remember to sign out of the program, turn the monitor off, or something of the sort. Patients are nosy and might stumble into something they don’t need to see. Even leaving the day’s schedule on the screen can be a violation of HIPAA.
The main goal of HIPPA is to keep a patient’s information private for their own safety and security. Be sure that you are looking out for your patients’ best interests in your practice.