Far too often, and in just about every industry, those of us who are “in it” assumes that certain aspects of what we know are obvious to the general public. For example, in healthcare, we know the basics of HIPAA and what information can and cannot be shared. This thought came to me again while recently reading an article about healthcare fraud, in which we came across a tip that seemed obvious, but then after thinking about it, I realized it might not be.
Another Piece of the Puzzle
One of those bits of information came from Leigh McKenna of the National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association (NHCAA) was quoted in an article reminding people to treat their healthcare card like it is a credit card. The information contained on it is far more valuable than anyone may realize. And if stolen or lost, it can provide criminals with access to many (if not all) aspects of your healthcare information. And I don’t mean the cost of your co-pay. While not certain, it may lead to access to even more detailed information including login information or sensitive medical records. Cross-referenced with other stolen data, the risk of exposure increases. Just like a medical file, there is a file of your records both personal and professional that is kept on the dark web where each data breach or exposure fills in more blanks. Piece by piece these records can create a rather complete picture of who you are and how to access your data. Your healthcare card is just another piece of the puzzle.
This brings us back to the point that we should never assume that people know what we deem to be “obvious” when it comes to healthcare laws or treatments. As a healthcare worker, you are around it every day and are subject to information that you learn and understand just by being exposed to it and through hearing things repeatedly. Additionally, you have experts around you that can answer questions to put things into perspective or give a better understanding of them.
Share Your Knowledge
While we aren’t suggesting treating someone in a way that makes them feel less competent or unable to understand, take this as a gentle reminder to encourage the small things that add up when it comes to identity theft and personal safety. Remind patients to put their card back in their wallet, or that you will never call them and ask for confidential information over the phone, and post visual reminders if you have a healthcare facility that has a waiting area. These reminders are also important when it comes to coworkers since their habits can affect the health of the business and increase or decrease the risk of data exposure or a breach within your organization. Humans are the first and easiest point of entry for many hacks, and our habits can reinforce the wall through which criminals enter. You can download a free printout, “Spreading Scam Awareness” to post and share with patients and staff, here: https://www.hipaasecurenow.com/spreading-scam-awareness/
Remember, what seems obvious to you, isn’t always the same for others. Little reminders add up to big ways that you protect yourself, your patients, and your business.