Protect Patient Privacy: A doctor’s job is to give the best possible health care to the patients and ensure that they live long and healthy lives. However, patient privacy is a key component that cannot be overlooked when seeking to establish trusting relationship with your patients.
A trust-based connection with the patients allows doctors to communicate effectively with the patients, which leads to better health outcomes.
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The Importance of Patient Privacy
Patient privacy should be a priority in providing excellent healthcare experience. A trusting bond between the patients and doctors enables both of them to openly discuss problems and solutions.
When trust has been established, the healthcare professional will find it easier to understand patient requirements, so that accurate diagnosis and treatment outcomes can be reached.
Measures to Protect Patient Privacy
In a world that has become so interconnected, through the use of digital technologies, how can we ensure that patient data is secure? As the number of patient data grows, this is becoming an issue of great concern.
The privacy concerns are compounded when we think of the competing need for increased linkage between various areas of the healthcare system, which lead to seamless collaboration, data integration, and access to vast resources of data that enable health professionals offer more informed solutions to patient problems.
So, how can we then keep information safe in today’s medical environment?
The following steps and measures will play an effective role in maintaining patient confidentiality.
1) Training and Educating Employees
If data securing and sharing best practices are followed by all nurses, doctors, consultants, and physicians strictly, information leakages could be curbed substantially. Regular training sessions on data privacy policies are required for both the hospital management and medical staff.
Hospital managers, credentialed in a master in health administration, usually look after the staff trainings on these matters, but in case, there aren’t any privacy policies in place already, the hospital managers have to come up with some guidelines before the hospital has to contend with a lawsuit.
2) Establish Privacy Policies and Rules Within the Organization
Creating comprehensive confidentiality agreements or policies ensures that everyone on your medical team understands precisely what is expected of them in any given situation. A confidentiality agreement is a legal document that spells out exactly what employees cannot discuss outside of their work in the most basic and explicit of terms.
Every staff member must read it from beginning to end and put their name and sign on the document, meaning that they agree with the terms and will uphold them. Healthcare professionals must also fill in the patients on the privacy policies, so that the patients can open up about their problems in a safe environment.
Putting this out in explicit terms makes it crystal clear to the staff that patient confidentiality and the safety of their medical records is the organization’s top priority. The organization should take it upon itself to mete out severe penalties for any violations of these regulations to drive home the consequences of not respecting patient confidentiality.
To overcome ignorance at the lower cadres, management must take efforts to educate on privacy issues and concerns and work toward creating compliance.
3) Make Use of Electronic Medical Information Systems
Electronic Medical Information Systems help managing patient data. These systems keep track of patient previous and current healthcare data, creating updated pools of data that can be then be relied upon for gaining insights and selecting treatment plans.
Physical, technical, and administrative measures protect recorded patient privacy, confidentiality, and integrity. At the same time, these measures also enable adequate patient care access for health practitioners.
Electronic Medical Information Systems (EMI) systems may be the most effective way of protecting patients’ privacy. Encrypted storage or devices can help protect patient’s sensitive medical information. Doctors can limit access to authorized staff only, and avoid letting it get exposed out in the open.
In order to prevent cyberattacks in the healthcare space, there needs to be contingency measures in place. Patients need to be assured that their records won’t get into the wrong hands even if an attack were to take place. In this regard, authorizing their access to their own data can help allay their fears, and help them find surety that their data is in safe hands.
4) Maintain secure and updated storage systems.
As world population and their need for care has grown, data stored physically and electronically has also skyrocketed. As a result, healthcare providers are faced with a paradoxical double whammy of keeping sensitive data secure and, at the same time, more accessible. This necessitates the need for adopting the most significant level of digital security possible.
Many forward-thinking healthcare providers implement advanced biometric patient identification technologies to ensure patient anonymity. Patient data is secured, and medical information can only be accessed by scanning the patient’s biometric traits.
This sort of solution is effective in removing duplicate records and overlays, and prevents medical identity theft. In the coming years, we will be seeing newer and more effective ways of securing patient data.
5) Pay more attention to personal devices
Restricting mobile device use in in-patient areas is also effective at protecting patient confidentiality. This ensures that no malicious intent or inadvertently recorded or photographed sensitive personal data is captured. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) refers to the use of personal devices to access organizational data and is becoming increasingly popular.
When you allow employees to use their devices, such as laptops, tablets, or mobile phones, it ensures their security over the network. Though, policies regarding the use of personal devices should be made explicit.
The policies should specify when and how employees and patients can use personal devices and what kinds of information they can or cannot access. A simple example of this is that a doctor shouldn’t be using their own device to save patient records or access patient information.
A health care professional’s primary responsibility, after medical care, is to keep patient medical histories secure and confidential. The introduction of digital solutions to replace mundane record keeping has made life a lot easier, but, on the other hand, they present serious risks in terms of data breaches. The above-mentioned tips will help care providers offer a more secure space for patient confidentiality.