Patient health data security and privacy are important to protect.
Your patients entrust you with their private health information and with secrets they ordinarily wouldn’t share with anyone else. Because of this privileged position doctors and other healthcare providers have in the lives of patients, it’s important for you to guard against unauthorized use of your patients’ data and information.
This is essential to your clinical practice with HIPAA rules such as the Privacy Rule that have mandated certain ways patient medical data must be handled.
Some clinics aren’t sure how to keep patient information protected and are looking for guidance. This article will talk about ways you can prioritize your patients’ data and protect it.
The importance of protecting patient data
Patient medical data is protected by HIPAA. The Privacy Rule provides specific ways you can keep your patients’ information safe and talks about how you can (and can’t) use it. Your practice is expected to take certain safeguards to protect patient data and these regulations must be observed by carefully trying to observe the intent of the law.
At a minimum, you must demonstrate that you are doing whatever you reasonably can in your own power to keep patient data out of the hands of unauthorized users and protect it from being misused.
Because patient health data is private and personal, it deserves to be protected. A lot of patient information can also be used to identify individuals. This is another key reason for protecting patient data.
For instance, a name, place of residence and medical condition may be enough to figure out who a medical record belongs to–if it’s that easy to identify someone using this information, this information in the wrong hands can be damaging to the patient.
Privacy disclosures and policies
Using disclosures and having privacy policies in place can help to protect patient information. It also shows your patients that you take their privacy and information seriously.
If they agree to these terms, they sign your privacy disclosure and you keep it until the document expires (typically a year).
Using an electronic healthcare records (EHR) system can also help you prioritize patient medical privacy. EHR systems have a variety of built-in features that help you use and manage information safely and securely.
While many chiropractic clinics are still using paper, more and more practices are making the switch to chiropractic software systems, and for some very good reasons.
Software will only work effectively if you and your team use it properly. Take advantage of your system’s full potential by getting the training you need and learning how it works. Find out how to take advantage of its features to help you secure and work with patient data.
Securing your patient data requires physical safeguards. HIPAA’s Security Rule defines what these look like. What you need depends on how your data is managed, who has access to it and whether you have paper records or EHR.
Physical safeguards keep unauthorized users away, such as locking a door or keeping paper records and test results offsite in a secured facility. Or, locking up a hard drive that’s used to backup patient data. You want to keep laptops, tablets and other media with patient information secured so they can’t be removed and stolen from your facility. It’s difficult for people to break in and access these records when they’re physically protected.
Prioritizing patient chiropractic data
Basically, doing what you can to keep your patients’ medical data secure and private shows that you prioritize it. It is important to have policies in place, practice great care and occasionally audit your own practice as necessary to maintain compliance.
Doing your best to make patient medical data safety a priority will help you demonstrate to your patients how much you care about their well-being. It also helps you comply with HIPAA. For these reasons, prioritizing your patients’ data is worthwhile.
- gov. “Summary of the HIPAA Privacy Rule.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/privacy/laws-regulations/index.html. Published: July 2013. Accessed: September 2018.
- Ouellette, P. “HIPAA Security Rule standards: Physical Safeguards.” Health IT Security. https://healthitsecurity.com/news/hipaa-security-rule-standards-physical-safeguards. Published: June 2014. Accessed