How Privacy Filters Encourage HIPAA Compliance
HIPAA compliance is a very serious matter. Violating HIPAA often incurs hefty fines for even minor breaches. In 2017, there’s already been a huge breach of HIPAA-protected medical files. The University of Washington School of Medicine made a mistake that granted access to unknown phishers of over eighty thousand patients’ files. Even a small-scale slip-up can have a disastrous effect on patients and businesses alike. Fortunately, encouraging HIPAA compliance starts with something as easy as installing a privacy filter on your computers.
What is HIPAA
HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. It’s a United States legislation that sets provisions and standards for data privacy and security for safeguarding medical information. It ensures that someone’s personal medical files are not public business, and tasks both insurance companies, care providers, and others who have access to medical files with preserving security on these documents. It also establishes consequences for failure to protect this information.
What Businesses Need to Worry About HIPAA
If you have access to someone’s medical files in any capacity, you have some cause to worry. Obviously, hospitals, clinics, and private doctor’s offices have the biggest burden. Insurance companies also handle a great deal of HIPAA protected information. It can be difficult to keep tabs on anything. Pharmacies, physical therapy offices, and mental health professionals also may have access to files that fall under HIPAA jurisdiction. Even a regular office building should check with their legal team about HIPAA implications. This is especially true if they have, for example, medical documentation of an employee’s disability on file for various reasons.
What is a Privacy Filter
A privacy filter is a thin film that fits over your computer screen. While you’re sitting at the computer engaged in work, you won’t even notice a difference. The screen remains viewable and easy to navigate without a problem. However, with a privacy screen, you’re the only one who can.
Privacy filters limit the directions that light from the computer screen can travel. If you’re outside of a relatively narrow range, the privacy screen blocks the light from the screen. Instead of being able to read over someone’s shoulder, you get to look at a blank screen. Not the most interesting proposition out there. This combination of blocking some light while allowing the rest through makes privacy filters a versatile tool in the fight towards HIPAA compliance.
Privacy filters protect against spies
Privacy filters protect against intentional and accidental spies. Intentional spies are rare in most healthcare professions. You don’t typically get to steal someone’s identity and rack up thousands in credit card debt because you saw that someone’s blood pressure was a little high. However, there may be times when you have someone on your staff who’s looking to bust coworkers or your company for breaching HIPAA. There are the rare cases of someone trying to access the medical records of someone they know personally. While rare, these situations do need to be protected against. A privacy filter is a simple way to remove that temptation.
Strictly speaking, accidental violations of HIPAA are still violations. It’s much more likely that someone in your office is going to glance at someone else’s computer as they go by. It’s human nature to be curious, and even though we know we shouldn’t peek, it does happen. These little snippets might even prompt curiosity of the previous nature—someone going in to confirm what they thought they’d seen.
Privacy filters prevent password guessing
Privacy filters are a great way to cut down on the most common, less sophisticated method of “hacking” computers. The most common way for someone who has access to the computer in person to get into it is to watch the owner type in their password and then copy them. It really is just that simple.
Privacy filters prevent someone from watching a password be typed in from across the room. Without the ability to see someone’s screen, there’s no way to know what they’re typing. Maybe they just typed a password, but maybe they were trying to fill in a CAPTCHA request. Maybe neither. Privacy filters make it impossible to know from a distance or from an angle what someone’s doing on the computer.
Privacy filters allow for more efficient use of space
Privacy filters also allow employers to put work stations closer together without worrying about violating HIPAA. Cubicles are difficult arrangements for many people who work side by side with sensitive information. Many healthcare providers, insurance companies, and others who deal with HIPAA protected documents need to make the most of the space they have. Installing privacy filters is a great way to let employees work side by side without endangering anyone’s data.
Privacy filters are a great first step towards HIPAA compliance. It eliminates accidental breaches of security. It also makes it much more difficult for someone within your organization to break HIPAA intentionally. It even has the added benefit of maximizing your space. Privacy filters make a good front line defense of HIPAA compliance.