Imagine an age when patient privacy and information wasn’t as simple as “point and click.” When patients didn’t have access to personal portals and hours of manpower and time was put towards the task of providing info, scheduling appointments, and sending reminders. There’s no doubt that technology has totally revolutionized the healthcare industry. However, technology has also introduced a whole new world of threats to patient privacy standards.
You can learn more about why cybercriminals target the healthcare industry by clicking here.
It used to be that a patient privacy breach only meant that valuable healthcare information was seen by a handful of people. But, today’s technology makes it possible for breaches of information to impact thousands. Thousands of patient files can be snatched and distributed widely in mere seconds.
In this blog, we’re going to discuss the ways that technology poses a threat to patient privacy and the top five situations that create this risk.
The Top 5 Threats to Patient Privacy
1. Monitor Visibility and Patient Privacy
We spend our days surrounded by screens. Especially in a working environment like a healthcare office. With so many monitors all around, it’s easy to forget that those screens contain valuable information.
Something as simple as leaving a window or tab on your computer open, as you step away for a moment can pose a huge threat to patient privacy. It’s so easy for the wrong person to glance over and access deeply personal healthcare information.
Be vigilant and take care not to leave your computer monitor exposed.
2. Internal Communications
Think for a moment about how many internal communications you send in a day. All day long you’re emailing with patients, your coworkers, and many others. Perhaps, your workplace utilizes a chat app like Slack to communicate with remote team members. These convenient messaging systems are great for getting information to the people that need them, but there is risk involved.
Simple user error can result in the accidental sharing of patient information. Popular messaging platforms may not have the same robust security as those that fall under the protection of your IT team. When you can, opt for higher security platforms and maintain strict policies about how internal communication tools are to be used.
3. Personal Device Use
Many companies are embracing remote work options for their employees, allowing them to conduct business on personal laptops and other mobile devices or providing such devices so that they can take their work on the go. Convenient? Yes. Secure? Not so much.
Employees using a device for both personal and professional purposes could simply accidentally share a piece of personal patient info. Personal devices don’t have the same access to security measures that we typically associated with workplace devices. Working in the Starbucks? Cybercriminals love an unsecured network! Not to mention that personal mobile devices can just be lost or stolen!
That only names a few of the potential risks to patient privacy!
4. Social Media
20 years ago, the idea of your every move being on public display would sound like something out of a Sci-Fi nightmare. In 2020, we call that social media.
The very public and exposed nature of social media makes it inherently risky. There’s the risk of employees accidentally oversharing and letting sensitive details slip on their social. Even if they realize their mistake, minutes later, that info may already have been copied and distributed far and wide!
There are tons of different social media platforms, all with different privacy settings! This makes monitoring your employee’s social media use difficult, if not impossible. The best offense is a good defense. Write comprehensive social media use policies for your workplace and make sure your employees understand them.
5. Vulnerable Login Information
It’s very common for devices and software to give the option to automatically save and remember your login info. Seems innocent enough, right? It’s convenient and quick.
But, keep in mind that saved login info can be accessed by anyone using the device. If you log out of your account, but your login credentials are saved, the information on your device is still at risk to all threats.
Protecting Patient Privacy in the Healthcare Industry
It’s a brave new (technological) world out there and protecting patient privacy is more difficult than ever before. With those challenges comes an increased duty of care, on the part of healthcare professionals, the companies they work with, and employers looking to the best interests of their workforce.
At Boon, we understand that completely. Which is why we are so proud to offer comprehensive and compliance healthcare solutions, all with full administrative capabilities. Learn more about the value of fringe benefits here!
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