You’ve probably seen the data breaches that have headlined the news in recent months. From Target to social media giants, to Marriot, and multiple large health organizations, no one is safe or exempt from a potential breach. A data breach can be detrimental to your practice so it is critical to ensure your practice mitigates it’s risk so you can avoid a disaster. You want to avoid compromising patient info as well as the legal issues that could arise.
What is a Risk Assessment?
A risk assessment is usually conducted by a third party firm or person. It helps identify where a practice is from a compliance perspective and what areas they could improve upon. It can include both medical and business concerns. A good assessment will look at how your practice is set up and if the policies and procedures are set up in a compliant manner from a business perspective. That includes examining all the legal documents in regards to ownership. A risk assessment will also look at policies and procedures from a medical and clinical perspective such as OSHA, HIPAA, supervision, delegation, telemedicine, etc. It will examine who is doing the initial intake, providing the treatment, supervising, etc. Because the laws are different in every state in regards to credentials needed to perform certain procedures, this step can be very important. A thorough risk assessment can include a lawyer, a clinician, and sometimes an IT expert to evaluate the cybersecurity risk.
A risk assessment shouldn’t be a one and done checklist item. You should be continually evaluating your practice to mitigate any risk. Policies and procedures change, personnel changes, technology changes, and so you need to continually ensure you are operating in a compliant manner.
It is also crucial to train your employees on the importance of compliance. It may be a good idea to designate a staff member to train other employees and new employees on HIPAA policies and procedures and your office’s additional security measures. Educate your employees on proper internet safety, such as not opening or clicking on an email that may look suspicious, or changing passwords frequently. This type of education can go a long way in keeping your patient’s information and your practice safe.
A risk assessment if critical to help protect your business as well as your patients and their private information. If you have not done a risk assessment, you should definitely look into one. It may take a lot of time and effort upfront, but in the long-term, it will save you a lot of headaches.