Technology and Patient Security
Preserving patient privacy within the healthcare setting is crucial and indispensable. The Security Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was established to ensure the safeguarding of electronic health information (HSS, 2013). Unfortunately, several violations occurred in the given scenario, including the sharing of sensitive information through unsecured networks and on social media. The purpose of this assignment is to explore strategies for maintaining confidentiality and to assess the impact of advanced technology on patient privacy.
Strategies to Protect Information
At the Johns Hopkins Hospital, stringent policies are in place regarding personal mobile devices and social media to uphold patient privacy. Personal mobile devices are to be used as sparingly as possible when discussing patient information. These guidelines are thoroughly discussed during central and nursing orientation. All staff members are required to sign a form outlining confidentiality clauses and social media policies. For instance, sharing pictures of patients would directly violate the Security Rule, ensuring that patient identities and information are not disclosed to unauthorized individuals (HSS, 2013). The hospital takes additional measures by strongly discouraging the inclusion of current and former patients as contacts on any social media account. Regular email reminders are sent, along with policies and information about HIPAA regulations. Another security measure implemented on our mobile devices and computers is password expiration. Once a password has been in use for a specific period, it expires. It is recommended to change passwords frequently and use random combinations to ensure information security (Hebda et al., 2019).
NURS 3110A Week 1 Patient Privacy Concerns: The Impact of HIPAA
The only exception to personal mobile device use is for company email, which cannot be accessed through an unsecured web browser or an unprotected phone. Several applications need to be downloaded for secure access. The authenticator application, protected by a password and facial recognition software, guarantees that only the authorized person can access the email account. Sharing personal devices with others poses a physical security risk to protected health information (ONCHIT, 2012). In cases where facial recognition is not available, a six-digit password is used. This authentication application must be used when accessing email from any device other than those within the facility.
Mobile Devices and Communication Challenges
The organization has recently implemented the use of mobile devices, which are provided to the staff at the beginning of each shift. These devices are secure and are used to transmit patient information safely. The phones utilize EPIC charting and include a secure chat option for text messaging. The secure chat is directly linked to the patient’s chart and is used to discuss health information with other members of the care team. The program also allows the sharing of photographs of wounds, dressings, and diagnostic imaging. Messages are stored for a limited time and are automatically deleted afterward. Company mobile phones also automatically log out after a certain period of inactivity. If a phone is lost or left in common areas, it cannot be accessed without the proper passcode.
Nursing Strategies to Ensure Health Information Protection
It is essential for all individuals to regularly assess their own personal strategies for maintaining patient privacy. Both humans and machines are prone to errors. Having systems of checks and balances in place is crucial. When medical professionals are not up-to-date with policies and training, more errors occur (Hebda et al., 2019). In my practice, I refrain from sharing sensitive patient information via personal mobile phones. Personal devices are vulnerable to compromise, which can lead to major breaches in confidentiality (Hebda et al., 2019). Additionally, I choose not to rely solely on automatic sign-off software and prefer to manually sign off my workspace. Preserving patient privacy is a personal responsibility that should be upheld.
With the advent of new technology, security, privacy, and confidentiality face new threats. HIPAA regulations have been established to ensure that agencies adhere to best practices and prevent the execution of these threats. This can be accomplished through physical security mechanisms, authentication protocols, and professional integrity (Hebda et al., 2019). Each member of the healthcare team bears the responsibility of maintaining the safety of health information.
Hebda, T., Hunter, K., & Czar, P. (2019).
Handbook of informatics for nurses & health care professionals (6th ed.). Upper Saddle
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Mobile health security is important! [Video file]. Retrieved December 4, 2020
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
(2013). Health Information Privacy: Summary of the HIPAA Security Rule.