Patient confidentiality is the foundation of best healthcare practices and is essential in building trust between health practitioners and patients. As a hospital admin, safeguarding private data entrusted to you and your practitioners is part and parcel of your responsibilities. The issue of patient confidentiality is increasingly becoming difficult to handle as patient records grow. Besides, the threat of data breaches through hacking and private data sale is now higher than ever.
According to the American Medical Association (AMA), cyber-attacks on healthcare IT systems have risen by approximately 125% in the past five years. Such breaches pose threats to patients and health facilities whose duty is to host and maintain data confidentiality. Therefore, as a hospital admin or a healthcare worker, you need to learn the best practices for maintaining patient confidentiality.
Below are a few of the best practices for safeguarding patient confidentiality.
Develop Comprehensive Policies and Confidentiality Agreements
Creating confidentiality policies and agreements and communicating them to your health practitioners means each of them understands their duty to protect patient data. Additionally, a confidentiality agreement is a binding document that explicitly explains the type of patient data that shouldn’t be disclosed.
You should ensure each member of your medical staff reads the confidentiality agreement and signs to indicate his/her willingness to comply. You can also share confidentiality policies with your patients to assure them that your institution adheres to best practices for maintaining patient confidentiality.
Train Your Medical Staff Regularly
Your medical practitioners can comply with the best practices for maintaining patient confidentiality if they understand the purpose they serve. Therefore, offering regular training for all your medical workers strengthens and reminds them they need to maintain confidentiality. Besides, regular training helps provide a refresh to your workers regarding what is expected of them to safeguard patient data.
Store Patient Data on Secure Systems
With the advancement of the healthcare sector and population increase, patient information has increased significantly. Consequently, your healthcare facility may encounter difficulties in storing the data. These storage challenges relate to where vast amounts of data can be stored and how to make it accessible.
Irrespective of these challenges, it’s crucial for your healthcare facility to enhance its storage systems’ security level before storing patient data. For instance, you can opt to use the best medical transcription service providers with improved data storage systems to keep your patient data safe. Additionally, it’s paramount to ensure that access to patient data is restricted by using passwords, encrypting information, and limiting those who access it.
Limit the Usage of Cell Phones
Another best practice for maintaining patient confidentiality and avoiding possible risks is to limit or forbid the use of cell phones within hospital wards. Such an approach hinders malicious or unintentional capturing of patient records. Research has shown that over 65% of medical practitioners use mobile SMS to share patient information with colleagues, creating a risk of data breaches. Therefore, placing strict restrictions on cell phone use within the hospital wards can help minimize patient data confidentiality issues.
Establishing best practices for maintaining patient confidentiality helps create trust between you and your patients. Adhering to these practices requires both moral and legal responsibility by your institution and your medical staff. Irrespective of your healthcare facility’s size, creating and executing clear best practices is vital for maintaining patient confidentiality. A few of the best practices you should incorporate in your health institution include limiting cell phone usage and developing comprehensive policies and confidentiality agreements. You can also train your medical staff regularly and store patient data on secure systems. Ultimately, implementing these best practices can help enhance the confidentiality of your patients’ medical records.