The ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tsu once said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” If he were alive today and working in American healthcare, he might add: “And the task of slogging through a thousand HIPAA regulations begins with a single quick tip.”
Becoming HIPAA compliant takes time, effort, and commitment. It’s not something that happens overnight or even over a long weekend. It’s an involved and ongoing process with components ranging from Patient Non-Disclosure Agreements to data encryption to the development of policies and procedures that codify how things get done in a practice like yours.
Trying to wrap your head around all of it can be daunting. That’s why I’m going to use this blog to occasionally offer small, concrete steps—quick tips—you can use now. Today. Maybe even right after you’re done reading this. Action-items that’ll keep you moving forward on the path to HIPAA compliance.
Let’s get started.
HIPAA Quick Tip #1
Privacy Screens for Computers with ePHI
Computer privacy screens are designed to protect the data on your screen from the eyes of the idly curious or the intentionally prying. A privacy screen guards against unauthorized viewing of info by limiting viewing to the person sitting directly in front of the screen. Anyone looking from the side won’t be able to see what’s there—patient names, addresses, insurance info, and more.
If you don’t already have privacy screens on the computers in your office, the computer at the workstation where patients come to check-in or set up their next appointment is a good place to start.
Step One: Position the monitor so that it can’t be viewed head-on by anyone signing in or standing there chatting with the receptionist. Step Two: Install the privacy screen. Typically this takes less than 60 seconds.
An affordable safeguard
Privacy screens vary in size, depending on the type of computer monitor. So have your make, model, and screen-size handy when you go to buy. Some screens also have an anti-glare feature, a plus when it comes to reducing eye fatigue.
You’ll find a variety of privacy screens—for computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones—at most office-supply stores and you can also purchase them online. Privacy screens for computer monitors don’t cost and arm and a leg—typically less than $100—but by helping to keep your patients’ information confidential, they could save your neck.