Protecting patient data

The new year is upon us and for many it’s started with a bang. But although there may be a need to get back into routine as fast as possible, there are also elements in the typical day-to-day workings of your practice that you should be reviewing.

  • New Year, new passwords

It’s a good idea to regularly update passwords and passcodes across your practice and while it’s tempting to recycle old passwords, it should be avoided. Ensure that every staff member with access to patient and practice data updates their passwords to a minimum of six upper and lower case characters, including at least one numeric and one symbol character and free of consecutive identical characters. If the thought of changing passwords makes you want to hit the eggnog, investigate password manager programs that will safely store your passwords and you only have to remember one master password.

  • Don’t look back in regret

You’ll likely have a regular back up scheduled, but if you don’t, doing a full back up of 2017 will give you peace of mind. It’s also an opportunity to engage with your software partners to know where your backed-up data is being stored – whether in the cloud, on an onsite server or in paper files. Verify the security measures for all of those stores with your IT team.

  • Be pro antivirus

Check that your antivirus software is up to date and take some time to review your current data encryption technologies with your software partner to identify gaps or weaknesses that need to be addressed with a tiered data security model.

  • On call protocol 

If you access patient data on your cell phone or tablet, double check that mobile devices are also secure in line with best practice standards.

  • Enlist team work

Practice staff are custodians of patient data and should be up to date with cyber security protocols, such as logging out of management systems when not in use, flagging suspicious looking emails and attachments and using best practice when it comes to passwords.

  • Go paper-light

If you’re still using paper in your practice, ensure that letter trays aren’t placed on the front desk in full view of other patients in the consulting rooms. Keep them behind the desk, out of sight and file paperwork daily in a control-access room. And be sure to dispose of paper records appropriately and in accordance with POPIA.

  • Swipe or get swiped

Encourage patients to use card technologies available at your practice to make payments and avoid having to carry cash or holding too much cash on the premises. Ensuring the security of patient data is always a top priority but you want to avoid using data security solutions becoming a bottleneck to productivity. Healthbridge has designed its cloud-based myMPS billing and clinical platform to give you the most time with your patients, safe in the knowledge that data is securely stored. From all of us at Healthbridge, we wish you and your loved ones a thriving 2018.

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