As a home care agency owner, it is your ethical and legal duty or responsibility to protect the information of your home care clients. Protecting customer information, in this case, means making sure this information is not accessed by any unauthorized source intentionally or accidentally, or used for any other purpose other than the purpose or purposes it was meant for.
In case you didn’t know, the HIPAA law applies to home care agencies as well and a violation is likely to cost you anything between $10,000 and $250,000 in penalties.
In this blog, Michele Ellis-Williams, home care coach and home care agency owner gives us a few tips to effectively protect the information of home care clients:
1 . Educate Yourself Continuously and Pass the Information to Your Employees
“The best way to ensure that your agency is not violating any “client information-protection law” is to continuously educate yourself as you pass the information you gather to your employees. Educate yourself on all regulations and recommendations provided concerning this law, including any new or revised laws. It is also wise to keep researching on the most reliable information-protection and storage methods available on the market, including the latest strategies and technologies on protecting your networks and devices,” advises Coach Michele.
2 . Cultivate a Culture of Keeping Client Information Out Of the Public Eye
“One of most common ways home care agencies unintentionally expose customer information is by leaving client files lying around in the office, in full or partial view of visitors and staff members who are not authorized to access such information. To avoid this mistake, the best thing may be to set aside a special room or private space where client files that are in use must strictly remain. Once completed, they should be transferred back to their original storage spaces, which should also be inaccessible to unauthorized staff members. In the same way, computer monitors and other digitalized screens containing client information should be hidden from visitors and unauthorized staff members,” continues Coach Michele.
3 . Train Your Employees to Dispose of Paper-Based Files Effectively
“Yet another way home care agencies unintentionally expose client information is by failing to dispose of paper-based files correctly. This seemingly “small’ mistake can cost an agency a lot in terms of penalties and reputation. To avoid such errors, it is advisable to invest in a more effective disposal method and to train your employees to always double-check that they have efficiently destroyed any paper-based information that needs to be destroyed,” continues Coach Michele.
4 . Be Careful With Social Media And Other Digital Platforms
“The last, but definitely not least tip I wish to share is related to social media – be careful about any business-related information you post on your website, Facebook, Twitter, and other digital platforms, including photos and other promotional material that may accidentally expose client information. While at it, educate, inform, and train your employees about the information they must not expose on social media, including the consequences they are likely to bring upon both the agency and themselves by exposing sensitive information,” concludes Coach Michele.
To learn more about how you can protect the information of your home care clients, please feel free to get in touch with us here at Michele Lee Ellis Consulting, we will be more than delighted to hear from you!
Also, for more free tips on how to start and operate a successful home care agency from Coach Michele, please visit her YouTube channel @ I am Coach Michele.
Phone number: 888-462-8885
Office Phone Hours: Tuesday-Friday 9:30 am-6: 30 pm EST