Protect your computer — from your family

With the summer in full swing and summer holidays here, I started thinking about those of you who work from home. These days, most facilities either have work-at-home staff or have given staff members the ability to do so. It is important to realize that the luxury of working from home brings with it an additional level of responsibility.

NEMT President Linda Allard

Do you have an office with a door that locks? How do you handle house guests who want to use your computer to check email or Facebook? Do you log out of programs that access PHI when you leave your office?

These are a few of the things you need to think about if you work from home. You also need to make sure that your computers are password protected, and you should not share passwords with others. Passwords should not be written down on sticky notes attached to your computer or placed in any other visible or easily accessible location.

Working at home and logging into a system that stores PHI means that you are accessing protected information just like you would if you worked inside the facility. If you have any kind of papers that you bring home to work on or papers that you print out using your home printer, those items need to be shredded or returned to the facility for destruction, depending on your facility’s policies.

Is your home computer encrypted? Remember that vacation you might be going on? Make sure that your computer is protected in case it’s lost or stolen. If you listen to PHI and you have guests, you should be using a headset. Just like in a facility where you should not be discussing patient data on an elevator, you should not talk out loud about it at home where others can here you.

It really doesn’t take much to make your home office HIPAA compliant, but you do need to think about it. With summer here, what better time is there to do it than when you can go outside after a day at work and enjoy the beautiful weather?

Happy summer!

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About Linda Allard

Linda Allard is the president of NEMT.
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