We recently discussed the value of risk assessments for your practice and how having the correct policies and procedures in place can help you avoid a potential data breach or any other legal issue. This week, we want to dive into a policy and procedure that is very important to your business: how you handle patient photos or videos.
Before and after photos are a staple to your practice. They allow you to display your work and the results that you produce. They help you not only attract new patients but also build trust with your current patients. But there are a lot of compliance issues when it comes to sharing photos, especially with the rising popularity of social media. Social media is often a source for people to turn to for medical news, research, clinics, and practitioners so it makes sense that more and more practitioners are taking advantage of social networks.
Before anything, you must obtain consent from your patient to take photos and to share those photos. It would be wise to have patients read and sign a consent and/or release form that contains everything and anything relating to the use of the photos. You should be very clear and detailed about the process and how you plan to share and disseminate the photos and what possible consequences could come out of that. You need to include details about where they will be shared, whether it’s on your website, marketing materials, social media, etc. and have a clear timeline of how long they will be used. The more detailed you can be the better.
Adhering to HIPAA policies also requires careful storage of the photos that you take. Stored photos should not contain any protected patient health information in the file name or metadata of the photo. Don’t ever store photos on cameras or other devices. Your best bet is going to be to look into a HIPAA-compliant system or a professional medical photo database to ensure you are following procedure correctly.
As we mentioned earlier, a risk assessment can be very valuable to your practice and can include policies like your photo and video policy. It may be valuable to have a third party look over your consent form or your storage practices. As with anything, it is also vital to educate the staff in your office on the policies and procedures to ensure everyone is following proper protocol.