We all know that clinicians bear a great deal of pressure and accountability when it comes to their patients. Not only are they responsible for their care and well being, but they are also responsible for protecting their patients’ health information in adherence to HIPAA privacy and security laws. It is easy to get overwhelmed with the number of rules, policies, and procedures for protecting data, so we’ve compiled some of the top traits of compliant clinicians to help you ensure HIPAA compliance in your day-to-day activities.
A clinician is aware of good compliance practices and takes the time to stay informed on current policies and follows their organization’s policies and procedures. They know the penalties for a breach and how it not only affects themselves but the entire staff and organization. Accepting personal responsibility for abiding the rules and procedures is the first step to achieving HIPAA compliance for any clinician.
A compliant clinician always consults their privacy official if they are unsure about any policy and procedure. They know to immediately report any potential privacy risk or threat that they may come across during their daily activities.
In any workplace setting, the employees drive the habits and practices of the culture at the organization. A compliant clinician is a leader and sets the standard for fellow employees. They offer advice and friendly reminders when they notice their peers engaging in noncompliant practices. These potential risks can include anything from discussing patients in the break room, leaving computers and mobile devices unattended or unlocked, or sending unsecured SMS text messages.
Staying up-to-date on the latest technologies cannot only help a clinician remain compliant; it can help them improve their workflow and achieve better patient outcomes. There are many products and applications such as MDMs, EHRs and secure messaging solutions that are designed to help keep patient communication and data safe and compliant, as well as improving efficiencies within the organizational setting. Compliant clinicians are often early adopters of these technologies and drive usage and adoption within their organization to achieve compliance and overall better patient care.
Mobile devices can pose potential threats to PHI to if not managed or handled correctly. Compliant clinicians take extra precautions to ensure all smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other devices are always secure. They are always mindful to never leave devices unattended and in a safe location when they are not being used. They make sure all PHI and other confidential data are encrypted on all applications, and they always double-check that they have activated a PIN lock or password when devices are idle.
Text messaging continues to grow as a prioritized communication channel for organizations. With the growing popularity of text messaging, implementing a secure messaging system won’t be difficult. A compliant clinician makes sure to emphasize how easy secure messaging is to use and why following best practices when using any mobile device will enhance a clinician’s workflow process. Compliant clinicians make sure not to skip any step during the implementation process.
Text messaging has become a fast, convenient way to communicate orders and other patient-related information. Unfortunately, standard SMS text messaging is unsecured, and not HIPAA compliant. Many clinicians ignore these rules and violate their organization’s texting policies and procedures because they think the benefits such as faster response times, and improved workflow outweigh the risks. A compliant clinician understands that there are inherent risks to standard SMS text messaging that could leave their patient’s information exposed to potential breaches. They always utilize a secure messaging solution to not only ensure security and compliance, but to communicate with the benefit of collaborative and workflow enhancing features such as delivery/read notifications, an integrated corporate directory, group messaging, and secure image/file sharing that many secure messaging solutions provide.
Compliance starts with a proactive approach. By incorporating these into your daily routines, you can focus your time and energy on what really matters – providing better care and treatment to your patients.