Best Practices for Front Desk Security
Your welcome desk is the first physical contact a patient has with your practice. It’s the time to welcome them, time to collect information, and a time to take extra precautions.
The front desk is the place where a patient is very open with their personal information. They’ll explain medical conditions, provide sensitive information, and will often need a little help to protect themselves. A little care taken in the process and layout of patient intake can go a long way.
Even when your front desk staff is doing something as simple as calling a member to confirm an appointment, a name and appointment time can prove a security risk if someone overhears them. An automated appointment reminder can do wonders to reduce this kind of scenario.
Then, after the appointment is confirmed, the patient comes into the physical office. It is here where most patients end up signing in with their name and arrival time. Exposure of a patients full name can prove a huge security risk. The best security practice here is to not use a sign-in sheet at all.
However, if you do decide to use a sign-in sheet, there are steps you can take. The easiest is to ask the patient to only enter their first name and last initial. This prevents too much personal information from being leaked to other patients. This will also help your staff in avoiding the use of both a first and last name when informing the patient that the appointment is ready. Besides, greeting someone by their first name sounds so friendly and inviting!
The computers at the welcome desk can also inadvertently provide too much information to other patients. The monitors should be pointed away from where patients can see it, and the use of polarized security screens can also reduce the chance of a HIPAA violation.
Physical items placed on the desk can lead to some security concerns as well. The front desk is often where we have customers call in for information or make changes to their appointments. Keeping sticky notes or patient records in plain view is dangerous. A move to an Electronic Health Records (EHR) system is an investment worth making. Digital records can keep your data secure from prying eyes and most have built in backups with redundancies in place.
It can feel like paranoia, going to these lengths to change policies and procedures, but the end result is well worth it. Providing protection for patient information can build trust, protect your practice, and reduce your security liabilities.