Safeguarding protected health information (PHI) is not only about implementing adequate cybersecurity protocols or ensuring networks use state-of-the-art encryption methods. Yes, tech solutions are essential to a comprehensive data security strategy, but compliance with HIPAA regulations must also involve every member of a healthcare organization.
Security breaches don’t just come from overseas cyber hackers. Every person in your organization has a role to play when it comes to protecting PHI. Though some strategies may seem to be a matter of common sense, to paraphrase Mark Twain, common sense is anything but common.
Who Needs Training? Everyone!
Every employee, volunteer or trainee (including student nurses and doctors) must receive appropriate training in a timely manner. In fact, anyone who works at your facility under your supervision must be trained in how to follow HIPAA regulations, even when those individuals are subcontractors. Training seminars should include clear, specific strategies with examples drawn directly from the workplace so individuals can see exactly how regulations impact the workplace.
What Constitutes PHI?
Don’t assume everyone will understand exactly what is considered to be sensitive information. A person’s name, birthdate, address, and any information relating to medication, treatment, or details of their healthcare providers are all considered to be confidential. Make sure it’s clear that this information in any format, including verbal, is to be protected.
Provide Specific Strategies for Protecting Information
This obviously includes cyber security, but real-life strategies for being cautious with information also matter. Training sessions should also articulate the need to use soft voices and move to private areas when discussing PHI. Consent must be obtained before any patient information can be shared or disclosed.
No Go Zone
Staff and volunteers must be informed that under no circumstances should patient records be accessed unless this access is necessary for patient care and is specific to the employee’s role in that care. Any information about the health and/or personal data of a patient is automatically considered highly confidential, and use of that information should be strictly regulated. All employees should be aware that patient confidentiality begins upon admission and that all records, whether hard copy or digital, must be protected either by physically securing the records or by protection with passwords, keycards, or other appropriate means.
Training Never Ends
Training is not a once and done endeavor. Ongoing sessions are required for existing staff and, of course, for all new members of your healthcare team. HIPAA compliance also requires that all training is properly documented.
To help ensure your training strategies are adequate and are in compliance with HIPAA regulations, get in touch with the experts at EnviroMerica and schedule a consultation!