Despite the fact that diligent stewardship of patient records is a requirement by the government, in the end it’s simply good business practice to ensure that your patients’ files are kept safe and secure.
However, it’s also so much more than just that: it’s the foundation of your relationship with them.
It’s All Over the News
Chances are they’ve read the news about one or another major corporation being ‘hacked’ and having thousands or millions of their customer files stolen. It’s a nightmare situation for that company, but it makes people wonder about the information they give out.
Imagine being one of those people, and having personal information read, stolen and then sold to an unknown shady person with ill intent. I’d wonder: what will they do to me?
Will my credit card be used fraudulently? Will people start hearing about that no-fault accident in which the other driver died? Will my highly private health records be used to blackmail me with?
The Fallout Can be Lethal
The end result is that people will sometimes choose to NOT disclose highly personal information, even when they’re supposed to, for their own health or safety. Can you imagine risking your life in order to avoid having something held against you?
So when they see these stories in the news, and they come to your office and see you typing away into your computer, you can bet it’s crossing their mind how much they can trust you – and especially how much they can trust your ability to keep their records safe.
One’s Right to Privacy
Even in an era in which we seemingly give away our privacy with the tap of a screen, there’s a lot of anxiety about how much information other people have access to. Most people see the reasoning behind telling the emergency room nurse that they are HIV positive; they understand that a new prescription that interferes with one of their own could kill them.
They should be able to be comfortable disclosing that; but so should the person who can’t live without those red vegan-leather heels and who barely pauses before punching their credit card number into a sketchy, unsecure site. The problem is, we don’t live in a utopia, and there are people out there who are comfortable exploiting weakness.
Can You Handle the Heat?
One day the true number of healthcare businesses who “get hacked” will get out, and it’s going to be a shocking day for the public. And if you think the Cambridge Analytica scandal was a big one, it might also shock you. Consider one health insurance company that was breached and made public the health records of almost 80 million people.
Another day will soon come: when people have only one or two degrees of separation from horror story caused by such a situation. When that happens, every visit to the doctor, dentist, physiotherapist, massage therapist – and others – will start with a very awkward conversation about data storage and security.
In order to make sure you retain their trust, you need to consider how you’re going to answer them. Who is the privacy & security officer at your practice? How much of your operating budget is allocated to keeping patient data secure? Have you had any breaches in the past? What measures did you put in place after the last attempt?
An Opportunity, Not a Problem
The good news is that if you keep patients’ best interests at heart, you can’t go wrong. Study the government guidelines as a baseline, and make sure you’re rigorous about your compliance; use that as a starting point, and move forward from there. Privacy compliance is a competitive advantage.
Give your privacy officer the support they need to determine how best to protect your patients. Reach out to some of your patients and ask them what they would like to see. Exchange information with friends in your field so you can learn about their best practices.
Use this as a launching point to have a good discussion about why your practice is such a good fit for them, and as an opportunity to get their feedback on more than their health, in order to ensure you’re fully answering their needs.
Data Security For The Win
They’ll reward your concern with their loyalty, and you’ll be happy for every minute and dollar you spent improving your practice and earning their trust.
Alexio is a data-security company that automates your security systems and protects you from ransomware and data breaches. Contact us now to get a quick and free consult for your business, and we will earn you a reputation for top-tier patient security.
Anne Genge is the CEO and co-founder of Alexio Corporation. She and her team of certified privacy and security professionals help dentists, physicians, and other healthcare providers to secure their data & systems, and comply with privacy laws & college mandates. She is a firm believer that good training in cyber-security is the key to protecting not just her family and clients, but also government bodies and major corporations. To this end, she has partnered with many organizations, including the Canadian Dental Association, to produce training in order to reduce the frequency of human error resulting in a security breach.