Increasingly, taking photos is a part of our lives. We snap photos when we're out at dinner or on a trip. And we certainly want to take a picture when we see an interesting case or need to remember or share something about a patient.
With the significant fines and punishments for HIPAA violations, however, medical photography on your iphone or smartphone brings up a several HIPAA compliance and security issues:
- If your phone gets lost, all photos on your camera roll are insecure
- Once a photo is on your phone, it is tempting to email or text it, both of which are in conflict with HIPAA.
- Photos on your camera roll may be susceptible to access by apps that are not HIPAA compliant.
So what is a person to do? It seems ridiculous to choose not to use technology in service of patient care. Here is the good news: you can and should use your iPhone or other smartphone for medical photography. In fact, we think that medical photography is a simple, powerful way to improve how we care for patients and make our lives as providers a little easier.
So here is a checklist to make sure that your medical photos are secure and useful:
- Understand HIPAA. You don't need to drive yourself crazy, but a little understanding of the fines and penalties goes a long way
- Never put patient photos into your regular camera roll. Sometimes smartphone apps (with the exception of iClickCare) pull from your camera roll-- 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 iClickCare that doesn't ever save photos to your camera roll. You'll know your pictures are safe, and used only for your purposes.
- Use some overall security strategies so you don't have to worry. When your technology is more secure overall, your photos are more secure, too.
- Don't email photos. Email is never a secure way to collaborate.
- Use apps that are explicitly HIPAA-secure. When you do collaborate, only use collaboration platforms that explicitly promise HIPAA security.
Security issues aside, we all want our medical photos to be a little bit better. Get the first chapter of our book on iphone photography for free: