Ways to Protect Patient Privacy

 Ways to Protect Patient Privacy

Maintaining patient privacy is a fundamental component of the global healthcare system. Protecting their patients’ confidential information is a challenge and a blessing for medical professionals. However, as the organizations are growing and becoming digital, how are healthcare organizations dealing with patient privacy and ensuring information confidentiality

The healthcare providers are responsible for things that impact the organization and the overall healthcare system. While it is an extremely rewarding career, the success of your role depends on ensuring compliance with privacy policies. Although management takes them as a thorn in healthcare, they undoubtedly have numerous benefits for organizations and patients.

It has become a big concern for patients, providers, and regulatory authorities. Breaches in healthcare data harm everyone, especially patient’s personal and private life and the organization’s credibility and reputation. To avoid such situations, let us look at some ways that can help in protecting the patients’ privacy and mitigate unfortunate incidents.

Continuing Education

Whether you have many years of experience or have recently taken a job in healthcare, you must never stop learning. This system is evolving on an everyday basis while facing challenges. If you are progressing to the administrator role, you can also enroll in online MHA programs. The courses educate about various aspects of healthcare administration, including patient privacy. Apply the learnings in hospital management, long-term care facilities, insurance claims, and medical law.

If you already have a professional degree, it might not be enough. You can do many things for continued education in the respective field to stay updated. Obtain certifications, attend seminars, seek mentors, review old and new research on patient privacy, and look out for any developments in the relevant policies or issues. With these, you can better understand the privacy issues and refine your skills to regulate the involved stakeholders.

Culture of Security and Confidentiality

Let’s be honest! Several organizations are not very thoughtful of patient privacy. Similarly, the privacy policies of states are either weak or not implemented at all. As a result, the care providers often make no effort to protect patient data or confidential information.

The first step in protecting patient privacy is building this culture. Begin with those active in giving care, regardless of their title or position. Doctors, nurses, lab technicians, office staff, or cleaners – everyone must know the importance of patient privacy. Make the management realize their duty towards ensuring patient privacy and move it to the lower staff. Tell the newcomers about the working environment based on many things. Still, effective handling of patient data is the primary thing. Using the upcoming tips will become easier when you can build this culture.

Implementation of PHI Security Plan

Protected Health Information, commonly known as PHI, is any information in the medical record used to identify the patient, in diagnosis, and in treatment. As the name suggests, it is every individual’s confidential data.

Every healthcare worker must know about PHI and the need for a plan to secure it. Privacy policies are introduced for this purpose and to keep the organizations on track. One such policy is HIPAA in the USA. It has laid out a few national standards, making it mandatory for care providers to protect individuals’ medical records and any identifiable information.

A secure plan for PHI safeguards data in paper, electronic, and oral forms. You must secure equipment and locations, trained staff, and mitigation plans for the purpose.

Workplace IT Infrastructure

Your organization must have a comprehensive infrastructure for IT management. Employ the latest technology available in the healthcare industry. Use the most secure and user-friendly software, even if they are expensive. Make a network resource that enables efficient communication, operations, and data management. Overall, make investments in the IT infrastructure. Install secured storage systems and utilize modern solutions for building an infrastructure to protect patient privacy.

Hire experts who can do frequent security checks. But perform due diligence on them before appointing them as data managers.

Secondly, implement the policy for encryption of patient data. Everyone transmitting any medical information must encrypt the data. In the case of hacks, encryptions make the data useless for unauthorized parties. Also, make employees liable for fines and penalties if any data is found unencrypted on their part.

Employee Training Sessions

For effective implementation of privacy policies, frequent training sessions for employees are necessary. Why? They are the key handlers of patients’ confidential information. When conducting the training, never discriminate. The training of department heads is as important as for the nurses. It explains the essence of constant reminders for the organization’s staff about the complexities and challenges of data handling.

Everyday Practices

Every person working in the healthcare system must be compliant with patient privacy. The majority of healthcare workers have easy access to patients’ medical records. Your role demands being wary of not revealing any part of the patient’s identifiable or non-identifiable information to anyone, sometimes even to the closest family.

Considering this, always adhere to the privacy policies of your department and the organization. Even if your company doesn’t do so, you have an ethical obligation to never divulge information about your patients, particularly their medical data. Learn about your organization’s privacy policies and practices and how they operate and benefit the stakeholders.

A particularly important thing healthcare workers usually do not take seriously is the disposal of PHI. So, what is the correct way to do so? We believe that the US Health department’s way of “shredding, burning, pulping, or pulverizing the records” until the information becomes unreadable is best.

Final Thoughts

Managing patients’ confidential information and protecting their privacy is a big challenge for healthcare administrators and workers. However, it must always come first and be considered a primary part of care delivery. The organizations must take every step to ensure that the administrators and care providers have all the necessary resources. Streamline every compliance effort that involves the PHI dealers.

Remember, this requires continuous efforts, including research, execution, and monitoring. By following our proposed ways, you can not only secure the patient’s data but also predict any unfortunate breaching incident.

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