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7 Ways To Prevent HIPAA Violations In Your Healthcare Practice

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Those who work in healthcare have to know every aspect of their jobs, but must also handle the additional responsibility of protecting the privacy of patients. If an employee’s actions result in a HIPAA violation, it will not only affect that employee, but also potentially jeopardize the entire organization. Healthcare facilities can face severe penalties and fines, and incur a bad reputation after being found to have violated HIPAA guidelines. If you own a healthcare practice, you must understand how to prevent these potentially disastrous violations. Here are seven ways you and your employees can ensure HIPAA compliance.

Continue learning about HIPAA

Employees should not be taught the basics of HIPAA regulations and expected to keep up with changes on their own. Both you and your employees should be educated when any changes are made to HIPAA regulations. Each employee needs to understand what penalties they will face if compliance is not maintained. Conduct training regularly to ensure your employees know how to prevent HIPAA violations.

Keep mobile devices secure

A common problem that results in HIPAA violations are mobile devices with patient health information being lost or stolen. Employees must keep their devices secure at all times. If an employee were to lose a laptop or tablet, your business could pay for that mistake. Remind your employees to be aware of where their work related devices are at all times. Staff should also turn the devices off and lock them up when not in use.

Enable firewalls

Another important aspect of protecting mobile devices is enabling encryptions, firewalls, and user authentication processes. These technologies can remotely lock or wipe a device of information using a software program. The protections serve as a backup plan in case a work device is stolen or misplaced. The encryptions and firewalls must be up-to-date to be effective.

Correctly store files

Those that handle paperwork and electronic files know how easy it is for something to be misplaced. Misfiling paperwork or saving it to the wrong device can be a costly mistake if it results in a HIPAA violation. Many employees fall victim to these issues because they are distracted when filing. Remind your employees to focus on what they are doing and always double check that they have properly stored and saved files.

Dispose of paper properly

HIPAA violations often occur because an employee has forgotten to shred paper files before throwing them in the trash. If an employee is having a tough day or they become distracted, they may overlook shredding papers with patient information on them. Switching to electronic filing systems is the best way to avoid these potential HIPAA violations. If your healthcare practice is still using paper files, make sure your staff double checks that they have properly disposed of them.

Keep patient information away from the public

Patient information should never be out in plain view when someone comes into your business. This is a small and careless mistake that many employees have made. Your staff should always keep patient folders closed and make sure to never display appointment calendars in public areas. All employees should be in the habit of concealing patient information.

Use social media carefully

The way we communicate is always evolving, especially with advancements in social media channels and technology. Social media usage has increased and the likelihood of employees violating HIPAA has increased as well. No one at a healthcare facility should post anything, whether text or images, about that facility or its patients. Your healthcare facility could be heavily fined if an employee posts something sensitive, even if it is by accident or does not include names.

By focusing on the importance of remaining HIPAA compliant and conducting proper training, you can help your entire practice avoid HIPAA violations. If your company needs guidance on how to effectively avoid HIPAA violations, contact the expert healthcare attorneys at Brown & Fortunato You can call us at (806) 345-6300 or Contact Us by email for more information about our practice areas. You can also stop by our office to set up an appointment and learn more about our practice areas. We are located at 905 S. Fillmore, Suite 400 in Amarillo, Texas.

This information is subject to change. Please check for updates that are more recent than the published date of this article.