General

Maintaining Patient Confidentiality: A Guide

Patient confidentiality is an essential foundation of the medical sector. There are several reasons for this, not least because patients need to feel able to disclose personal information, safe in the knowledge it will only be used by medical professionals trying to help them. This makes people more likely to come forward earlier when they need medical care, which leads to a healthier community. In addition, if patient data were to be lost or stolen by a hacker, the consequences to both the patient and the data holder can be disastrous. This guide outlines how medical practice can ensure patient information is protected securely.

Policies, procedures, and legal agreements

Every new employee who joins your practice needs to understand the importance of patient confidentiality and what is expected of them in terms of upholding patient confidentiality. You should have clear and detailed policies in place which are available to both staff and patients at all times, as well as a confidentiality agreement. This is a legal document which spells out precisely what information needs to be kept confidential and should be read and signed by the whole team, whether they are directly responsible for data management or not.

Staff training

While it is essential that your staff understand your policies and procedures, they also need to understand why they exist. With regular training on the importance of patient confidentiality from both an ethical and an organizational point of view, staff will be more likely to act responsibly. Training does not have to be dull and formulaic, and sessions can also act as team-building exercises when the team get to know each other a little better. Click here for ways to make mandatory training more enjoyable.

Securing your data storage system

Medical practices have to store and manage a huge amount of data. While most have moved away from paper-based systems to digital records, many do not have adequate security in place and/or are relying on clunky and complex systems. By investing in a more advanced system which offers the highest levels of security and is easy for your staff to navigate, you can improve patient confidentiality and efficiency. A system which requires multiple passwords to gain access and enables the encryption of data would be ideal. Visit https://www.shaip.com for an AI platform which includes data sourcing, curation, and de-identification.

Prohibit the use of staff cellphones

By prohibiting the use of cellphones in the practice, you remove the possibility that staff could intentionally or accidentally record private conversations or information. Some staff may communicate with each other about their work or patients via text message. Whether this is done without malicious intent or not, it is best to remove the risk and protect both your patients and staff.

Avoid printingforms and notes

Whenever possible, documents should be kept in a digital format only to increase security and reduce wastage. However, when a document has to be printed, it is important that it is printed and stored securely. Modern printing machines include secure cloud storage and password protection, so only specific users can print documents.