Data breaches are a distinctly modern problem that your predecessors in the medical profession didn’t have to worry about (at least, not to this extent). Because of the increased public focus on data breaches, a lax attitude toward your patient’s privacy could put your practice — and your medical license at risk.
What are the biggest “bad habits” regarding patient privacy that a doctor’s office can have? They include:
Have you ever turned a blind eye to the fact that your office manager took some work home for the weekend — even though nothing should ever leave the office? If so, you’re putting your license in danger by knowingly allowing violations that could endanger patient privacy — even if you have total faith in your office manager.
Do you strictly insist on the same compliance policies regarding patient information for everyone? You need to have clear, defined policies regarding data storage and protection, and everybody needs to adhere to them. For example, some offices will allow a long-time employee more leeway when it comes to data security than a new employee. That’s a big mistake. Everyone has to adhere to the same standards, at all times.
When a violation of the rules does happen, do you respond immediately? Are you even-handed about punishments and sanctions? Or, do you wait to see what kind of fallout actually happens and decide on a punishment based on how much harm is actually done? If it’s the latter, you aren’t really doing your employees or your practice any favors. Consistency is always key to maintaining your integrity and the integrity of your office.
If a data breach has exposed your medical license to danger, get experienced legal help as soon as possible.