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3 Ways to Keep Patient Communication Safe from HIPAA

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Tue, Jun 25, 2013 @ 08:50 AM

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For us, the simplest pleasure as healthcare providers is communicating with patients. Whether it's digging into the "problem behind the problem," hearing about jobs or kids, or finding a simple explanation for a diagnosis... these conversations are the best parts of our day. 

So it's scary to hear about all of the HIPAA violations that come from the simple act of communicating. As we wrote in this post, fines keep increasing and enforcement is now a "will happen" thing rather than a "could happen" thing.

ClickCare's primary purpose is to help healthcare providers communicate with each other. But we know that providers also use ClickCare to communicate with patients. So we want to make sure that whether you're using ClickCare or communicating through another medium, you're doing so easily, quickly -- and securely.

3 ways to keep your patient communication safe from HIPPA violations:  

  1. Never let patient photos into your camera roll. Increasingly, smartphone apps (with the exception of ClickCare) pull from your camera roll-- sometimes even sharing pictures without your knowledge. And even if that doesn't happen, your camera roll only has one layer of security -- the login password on your smartphone. So when dealing with patient photos, we recommend using a secure app like ClickCare that doesn't ever save photos to your camera roll. You'll know your pictures are safe, and used only for your purposes. 
  2. Don't use emails or text messages -- period. Email and text messaging have become so common that many healthcare providers end up sending updates or photos via email -- or requesting that patients do the same. Unfortunately, HIPAA violations arising from email or text are increasingly audited and fined, so even with "secure" email, you should never send or recieve patient information this way. There are just too many points in the system where you could be unknowingly violating HIPAA.   
  3. Enlist your whole community in secure communication. We tend to have a pretty inclusive office culture. Obviously, everyone from our receptionist to the young man that picks up mail are crucial parts of our communication with patients. That said, only certain members of the community are allowed access to patient information. So make sure to log out of EMRs or other secure programs when you're done using them, and make sure everyone helps keep physical files in the hands of the people allowed to see them. 
For other tips on keeping patient data secure, explore general strategies here and find out what to do if you lose your iPhone here. And for details on the newest HIPAA regulations, download our free guide, below... 


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Tags: collaboration, HIPAA, communication with patients, iPhone medical apps

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