Creating a Secure Remote Work Environment for Healthcare Staff
Posted on Friday, May 1, 2020
Ensuring a secure remote work environment is a top concern of healthcare organizations that are looking to move workers off site.
While remote work is increasingly common, organizations within highly regulated industries like healthcare have been slower to offer work from home opportunities. This is understandable, as you may worry about protecting your patients’ PHI and maintaining HIPAA compliance.
However, it is absolutely possible to create a secure remote work environment for your healthcare staff with remote work solutions that address these issues. There are many benefits of allowing healthcare staff to work from home, and the COVID-19 crisis adds one more significant reason to transition some employees to secure remote work.
In order to create a secure remote work environment for your healthcare staff, look for remote work solutions that offer the following:
Controlled Access to PHI – limits users’ access to only the minimum information necessary to perform their job duties.
Full Transparency – provides management with real-time oversight and review of employees’ work, which highly discourages inappropriate behavior.
Complete Audit Trails – always know who accessed data, what they did, and when.
Workflow Automation – automating redundant, manual tasks through robotic process automation means fewer employees must handle each information object and data will automatically be routed to its proper destination with little to no human intervention. Plus, it greatly reduces paper usage…
Paper Reduction – solutions that eliminate hard copies remove the need to commit PHI to paper or to store paper forms containing sensitive information, and they make proper disposal of physical documents a non-issue.
Off-Site Exception Handling – remote employees should be able to handle individual exceptions manually with the same level of security, controlled access to PHI, and paperless processes in place.
Encryption of Data – all information must be encrypted at all times.
HealthWare Systems’ remote work solutions cover all the above. By providing each of these features, our solutions create a HIPAA-compliant, secure remote work environment that will enable healthcare staff to work from home.
Additional Guidelines for a Secure Remote Work Environment
In addition to choosing remote work solutions that address the security concerns listed above, it’s crucial that you communicate with remote workers about their responsibilities regarding the protection of PHI.
Many of these guidelines apply to all healthcare staff – whether they work remotely or on site:
Adhere to strict password rules.
Use multi-factor authentication.
Complete periodic cybersecurity and HIPAA compliance training.
Only work on approved devices and only access the Internet through approved methods, such as the organization’s virtual private network (VPN).
Do not use work devices for personal activity.
Do not copy PHI to other devices.
Keep software updated.
Always lock your screen when not in use.
Be aware of common forms of cyber attack and know the warnings signs for email scams, such as phishing emails or suspicious attachments.
Implement a Remote Work Policy and after confirming employees understand what’s expected of them, have them sign an agreement stating they will abide by all rules and regulations in place. Just like you would for on-site employees, remind remote workers of the civil and criminal penalties for negligent or illicit handling of PHI and of their duty to protect it.
For more information on creating a secure remote work environment for healthcare staff, contact us today. Through a consultative phone call review, we can analyze your workflows to help you determine which areas to transition to a secure remote work environment.