Maintain privacy and information security

Residency Program Insider, August 5, 2020

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Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from The Resident’s Orientation Handbook, Fourth Edition. Click here to order your copies.

We live in a generation of advanced technology and sometimes it is tempting to use that technology in a way that is not in conformance with Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) standards. Don’t be the resident who gets their car broken into and computer stolen, compromising all the protected health information of the patient records stored there.

Here are some useful tips about privacy and information security:

  • Store your data on a computer network drive affiliated with your university/hospital or an encrypted local hard drive. Do not create electronic storage areas (i.e., cloud computing) because such storage does not meet minimum HIPAA standards.
  • Password-protect and encrypt your smartphone, tablet, laptop, and other mobile devices. Encryption is in addition to password protection and is the process of transforming information using an algorithm to make it unreadable to anyone except those possessing the key.
  • Always log off or lock a computer when walking away from it (even for a few minutes).
  • Minimize the transport of confidential information, including protected health information, between healthcare facilities or to other locations. If confidential information must be physically transported, take the minimum amount of information possible and safeguard it at all times. Do not leave confidential information unattended in a vehicle or other location where it can be stolen.
  • Do not perform patient handoffs on your cell phone.

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