How Can Elder Care Professionals Protect Themselves From a Security Breach?

When working in a senior care environment, clinicians and other senior care staff may breeze by worries of elder care security. However, with most medical charts and corresponding documentation now done online or electronically, elder care security is an important issue that should be held in high regard from the CEO to the CNA. Here are a few best practices that clinicians, other staff members, and even volunteers can use to prevent an elder care security breach.

Change passwords frequently

Staff should change passwords frequently throughout their tenure at a senior care community. Because clinicians are privy to medical information, frequently changing passwords can help to assure HIPAA compliance.

Develop high security passwords

Speaking of passwords, elder care security increases when staff members choose unique and high security combinations each time. Best practice suggests choosing a password that includes both upper and lower case letters, symbols, and numbers to decrease chances of a security breach.

Implement a policy of least privilege

Limiting access to medical charts and other documentation will help improve security of that information. The principle of least privilege is the idea that each user should only have access to the information and files that are essential to completing his or her work.

Eliminate staff profiles when terminated right away

Senior care can be a high turnover industry, with clinicians and staff members leaving quickly at times. To assure that those who are no longer on staff do not abuse any security privileges, profiles and passwords must be eliminated immediately upon termination, resignation, or job abandonment.

Discourage working online at home

Unfortunately, electronic medical records or other online portal access can make working at home an option for busy nurses, therapists, and other clinicians. However, working at home (or in a local coffee shop) is a dangerous practice that puts the entire elder care security system at risk. Staff members should never work with medical information, including something as simple as resident names, outside of the senior care community.

Log out when leaving

Often, busy nurses or other staff members get pulled away from their laptop or electronic documentation system to attend to resident needs. Before heading to assist the resident, staff members should always log out of the system to assure that no passersby are able to access charts with their password. A log out button should be readily accessible on all screens, or there should be a time-out feature to assure that staff members are able to quickly assist residents while keeping their online profile safe.

Assure the system has cutting edge security technology

Clinicians and other staff certainly have their own responsibilities to keep data breaches at bay in the community. However, there is also an important part that the community’s technology system plays in keeping information secure. Senior care executives should work with a technology company that is well versed in HIPAA compliance as well as the unique needs that a senior care community faces on a daily basis.

Hire an onsite professional

Finally, having an onsite technology professional can be the key to data security in the senior care world. Not only is this person available to assist residents with technology questions, this designee can assure that staff are trained in ways to keep medical information secure.

How do you train your staff on technology best practices? What types of trainings do you offer on an annual basis?

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