Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, many meetings have been moved to remote video meetings. These remote meetings bring their own set of concerns.
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A recent investigation highlights a major concern for physicians – patient care.
The Medical Board of California is currently investigating a surgeon who participated in a Zoom court hearing while in the middle of operating on a patient. The surgeon alleged that he was one of two surgeons, and able to participate in the Zoom hearing without any concern for the patient.
This, however, raises yet another concern: the inadvertent sharing of protected health information (PHI) during a Zoom meeting or conference.
While many physicians would not attend a remote meeting while providing patient care, it is also essential for physicians to be aware of their surroundings while attending remote meetings.
It is easy to become too relaxed about privacy concerns when attending a remote meeting from the comfort of your own office.
Before remote meetings, make sure to ask yourself:
- Is any patient information visible from the physician’s location?
- For example, if you are participating in a Zoom meeting from your office, do you have any patient charts on your desk?
- Is there any schedule with PHI visible?
- What is going on in the background? Are any patients themselves visible?
- Can attendees hear office personnel or coworkers who may be discussing PHI?
With the increase in breaches during COVID-19, government scrutiny is high.
It is essential that you protect your PHI and adhere to all of your HIPAA Privacy and Security policies.
Entering into an online meeting is essentially inviting other attendees into your office or wherever you are conducting the meeting.
Protect yourself and your patients by going back to basics. Ensure that you have no visible PHI, passwords, logins, or private information in the location where you are conducting your remote meetings. Consider what attendees may hear from people around you and take measures to seclude yourself during meetings.
If you run a healthcare practice, you may want to have your HIPAA officers conduct routine searches for any visible PHI or passwords.
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