The Importance of Data Security and Privacy in Home Care Agencies and How Software Can Help

Asha Neil

Written on 17 January, 2023
Data protection is of critical importance for home health agencies, who need to protect against data breaches and leaks while ensuring access to patient information during visits.

The US has stringent requirements for data security in healthcare. Fortunately, software can simplify data management and help you achieve regulatory compliance.

Understanding Data Security and Privacy

Data protection means ensuring both the privacy and security of confidential data. Let’s break down exactly what that means.

What Is Data Privacy?

Data privacy is the right to have confidential information kept private. It’s about how personal data is collected and shared with third parties, such as admin staff or members of the public. 

What Is Data Security?

Data security concerns how confidential information is stored. When data is securely stored, it cannot be stolen or otherwise accessed by unauthorized individuals, e.g. by hackers.

There’s a lot of overlap between data privacy and security. However, data privacy relates to who you share information with, while security often comes down to how strong your storage systems and passwords are.

What Constitutes a Data Breach or Data Leak?

Both data breaches and leaks refer to situations where unauthorized people gain access to confidential data.

A data breach normally happens when information is hacked or otherwise attacked. It could be due to infections by a computer virus, for example.

A data leak, meanwhile, is normally accidental and due to poor data management practices. For example, it could happen when someone talks about confidential information on the phone while on public transport.

Why Is Data Security so Important for Home Care Agencies?

As a home care agency, you handle an immense amount of personal health information, which is some of the most sensitive data imaginable. Not only do you have access to patient health information, but your team members are constantly creating new patient records. 

Moreover, your caregivers have to visit patients’ homes and access health information via their mobile devices. In this context, patient confidentiality can easily be compromised by poor data security and management practices, such as using cell phones that haven’t been updated or viewing patient data on public transport.

Inadequate data protection practices can lead to HIPAA violations and costly fines. However, a solid understanding of your data protection obligations will help you avoid these issues.

Protecting Data: What Are Your Obligations?

As a home care agency, you are responsible for taking security measures to ensure data protection. This includes:

  • Privacy and security

  • Data backup and disaster recovery

  • Reporting security breaches

Risk management is an essential part of data protection. To minimize the risk of a data breach, you should be investing in secure systems and training employees on data protection practices.

How Software Can Help You Handle Sensitive Data and Avoid a Data Breach

Improved data security measures and regulatory compliance are two of the features you should look for in your home health care software. We've previously written about what you should know before signing up for software, but let's take a deeper dive into the data security features it should have and how this can help you with data breaches risk management.

Control and Limit Access to Patient Data

With the right software, you’ll be able to grant password-protected access to client files on a need-to-know basis. Plus, it will be easy to amend access as care plans and schedules change. This will help you monitor data access and protect data while also ensuring your caregivers have access to the records they need to provide quality care. 

Encryption for Better Data Security

End-to-end encryption is a cornerstone of data protection. It ensures that not even the tech teams responsible for storing your data can read it. 

Cloud-Based Data Storage

Data protection isn’t just about avoiding breaches. It’s also about disaster recovery. Cloud-based storage will help you protect and recover important patient information even if your office floods or a computer breaks down.

No Files Downloaded or Off-Platform Access 

A secure web app makes it easier to avoid a data breach. You won’t have to worry about mobile devices being stolen or files being downloaded onto virus-infected computers: patient data can only be accessed in-platform with the right password.

All Communication via the App

With instant access to updated client records and push notifications, there won’t be any need for staff to discuss patient data via phone calls or emails. This reduces the risk of a data leak and makes data protection much easier.

Security and Privacy Made Easy

For home care agencies, avoiding a data breach or leak is essential. Fortunately, the right software will make data security simple.

ShiftCare’s home care software makes data protection a priority, so you can rest assured that your organization's data is safe. Secure and encrypted cloud storage systems will help protect you from ransomware attacks and other data breaches.

Robus access settings mean that it’s easy to control access to patient and staff data. And since everything can be done in-app, you won’t have to worry about an email going astray or a file being downloaded onto a non-secure device. 

ShiftCare gives you the security and controls you need, but also the flexibility that your staff requires to do their jobs well. With an app for frontline workers, your team can access all the information they need in the client’s home. 

Discover how software can be a stress-free solution to data protection. Try ShiftCare for free.

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