Health Information Management

Tip: Ensure that staff members' cell phone use is compliant

HIM-HIPAA Insider, November 17, 2008

Transmitting PHI via cell phone or BlackBerry—whether verbally, via text message, or high-resolution photograph—is becoming increasingly easy. So how do you regulate the use of devices that are often smaller than a wallet and that devotees consider a virtual fashion accessory? Maybe you can’t.
But you can train staff members to notice suspicious activity. And you should develop and enforce in-house policies to ensure that staff members understand the repercussions that can result from the illicit transmission of PHI outside the hospital via cell phone.
Because virtually everyone owns and carries a cell phone, nearly everyone is capable of easily disclosing PHI during a call or in a text message or photo. Your security policies must reflect and address this. Consider strong disciplinary measures, even termination, for individuals who intentionally violate the policy.
And teach staff members how to respond when they observe individuals taking questionable photographs, says William M. Miaoulis, CISA, CISM, manager of healthcare security services at Phoenix Health Systems in Montgomery, AL.


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