Every healthcare worker is aware of the importance of patient privacy. However, in the Information Age, the responsibility to protect patient privacy is facing continual challenges. Has your company updated your privacy and confidentiality policies to meet these challenges? Is your organization taking steps to ensure the security and privacy of your patients, employees, and networks?
Health information is regulated by different federal and state laws, depending on the source of the information and the organization possessing the information. Generally, protected health information includes identification and demographic information collected from an individual and information relating to the past, present, or future physical or mental health or condition of an individual. It also includes information regarding the provision of healthcare to the individual as well as the past, present, or future payment for the provision of healthcare to an individual.
HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, details who can access your personal information and how they might use and share it. These typically include healthcare providers, their business associates, and subcontractors such as claim processing services and medical billing services.
What Information Is Protected
- Data entered into a patient’s medical records by doctors, nurses, and other health care providers
- Verbal conversations your healthcare provider has with the patient, other staff, or other healthcare providers about care or treatment
- Patient’s personal information in your health insurer’s records
- Billing information about patient’s care and treatment
How This Information Is Protected
- Covered entities must take measures to protect patient health information.
- Covered entities must have procedures in place to limit who can view and access patient health information. They must also require staff privacy training instruction regarding how to protect patient health information.
- Covered entities must reasonably limit uses and disclosures to the minimum necessary to accomplish their intended purpose.
- Subcontractors, vendors, and business associates also must put in place safeguards to protect patient health information and ensure they do not use or disclose patient health information improperly.
Areas Vulnerable to Privacy Breach
Many healthcare clinics and healthcare providers face difficulties in protecting the medical privacy of their patients while operating a busy office. In many healthcare facility reception areas, the ability to have a private conversation is virtually nonexistent. As spaces often lack walls or partitions, patients frequently overhear conversations between healthcare staff and other patients. In addition, collecting confidential information, processing it, and storing the records are all vulnerable to information breach at various points. When entering patient data, a computer screen or hard copy records should not be accessible to view by others. Similarly, when processing billing and insurance information, all information regarding the provision of healthcare to the individual as well as the past, present, or future payment for the provision of healthcare to an individual should be protected from viewing by others.
Five Ways to Protect Patient Privacy
- Utilize ElectraTint smart window tint on glass office partitions, office walls, windows, and other area to obscure private patient data is a practical and cost-effective solution to meet privacy demands. Electratint’s smart window and glass tint allows existing space to be utilized more effectively and maximizes remaining space for patients and treatments without compromising privacy. Not only does tinted glass offer privacy from other patients, unlike a curtain pulled around a patient’s bed, it provides a physical barrier as well, which is an added bonus since the onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
- Rearrange the facility’s floor plan to increase privacy. Add glass wall partitions or wall panels. It may also be helpful to separate the patient waiting area and the reception desk into different rooms.
- Add sound proofing. Acoustical ceiling tiles, carpets and wall panels can be placed around spaces to help absorb and block sounds.
- Utilize a sound masking system. Sound masking systems are engineered to produce sound that matches the frequencies of human speech. The added ambient sound makes human speech hard or even impossible to understand, so you can’t hear conversations taking place mere feet away.
- Give staff regular privacy reminders. While all healthcare providers require privacy training for their employees, staff can still make mistakes or become less diligent if they aren’t frequently reminded to protect patient privacy.
Providing privacy as needed in a healthcare setting allows staff to focus on treatment. The implementation of Electratint smart window tinting is an investment in your facility’s future operations and the privacy of your patients can be protected conveniently. When factoring in the need for patient privacy and protection, healthcare space that meets these requirements increases efficiency and offers flexibility. Confidential discussions or meetings between healthcare providers or between patients and providers can take place quickly and easily, without the need to locate an open conference room or office. With a switch, a button, or a voice command, ElectraTint offers the adaptability and protection today’s healthcare environments need.