3 Steps You Can Take to Prevent Accidental File Sharing

Digital medical records on a tablet with a stethoscope
Digital medical records on a tablet with a stethoscope

Technology has transformed how we store and transmit medical documents as more and more records are being stored digitally. This comes as a relief to many medical professionals, but it carries its own risks. Bulky charts and overflowing file cabinets may be becoming a thing of the past. But, there are still pitfalls you should be aware of when it comes to safely and securely transmitting medical information digitally. 

Digital online record-keeping can make it much easier to store and access a patient’s information than ever before. However, it remains critical to ensure that your clinic or medical office remains in compliance with HIPAA regulations. A violation of HIPAA policies and procedures can present a huge liability in the event of an audit. So, it’s important to be certain that you’re using the best practices in order to protect any confidential information. Because sometimes more than one professional needs to handle a chart, file sharing is often necessary. Any files containing  HIPAA sensitive information can only seen by the appropriate staff, though. 

Many medical professionals are learning the importance of protecting themselves against accidental file-sharing, sometimes, unfortunately, through trial and error. In order to avoid the “error,” we have a few suggestions for how to protect yourself. 

Password Protect your Documents

You can easily password protect documents using a secure managed file sharing service. This means that only authorized personnel who know the associated password will be able to access them. Have your staff check to ensure that they are password protecting their documents before they hit “send.” 

It may seem obvious, but document for clarity that when sending a password-protected document via email. You cannot send the password in the same email as the protected document. Human errors do occur, and everyone has made the embarrassing mistake of sending an email to the wrong address. As long as the password isn’t included in an email with a protected document, it will stay a mild embarrassment and nothing more.  

Encrypt your documents

Encrypting your documents also means that they will be password protected, and they’re safer from intrusion. Computerhope.com has a quick overview of how to easily encrypt files in windows.  As a healthcare provider, you’re liable for upholding HIPAA regulations against intrusion and accidental file-sharing. So, encrypting your documents before sending them is always a good idea. But make sure you are taking enough additional precautions to feel secure that confidential information is well protected.  

Utilize Outside Services 

Using an outside IT service, like Bizforce Technologies, who are already intimately familiar with the difficulties your medical office or clinic faces, is important when taking steps to protect yourself. Not all IT services are attuned to the specialized needs of those in the medical field when it comes to privacy. Specifically due to the liabilities associated with any HIPAA violations. It’s always a good idea to take advantage of services that are aware of your concerns and prepared to best meet your needs. 

Keep in mind that all policies you implement should be documented officially and distributed to all staff. Accidental file-sharing can occur despite your best efforts. You’ll need to be able to demonstrate to an auditor that the incident was in violation of your official policies and procedures. You should also update your privacy practices regularly (at least annually). This way, you ensure that you’re using the most up-to-date resources to keep transmittal of records in the right hands.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to increase security to help you mitigate the risk of a HIPAA violation, the above steps can be very useful. If you’d like to ensure that your documents are protected, and remove the risk of human error, we at Bizforce Technologies are here to help! For more information on our services contact us today!

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