Every office needs to be concerned with the safety of its data, both in electronic forms and in the more traditional formats of paper files and call notes. Sometimes in a busy office environment, though, we can overlook little things we do that put sensitive information at risk. Here are some tips to check the health of your office practices, and make sure all is well.
Keep It under Wraps
A rule everyone should remember: don't leave information out in the open. It is easy to forget that there may be vulnerable information on those post-it reminders scattered over your computer desk, or the notepad you keep by the phone. But it is essential to have a place for everything, to keep it confidential and to keep track of papers and files. A misplaced printout could spell big trouble. Keep a secure shredding basket handy, and keep files in drawers until they are needed. And don't forget to lock your computer when you step away, so no information on the screen is viewable by someone who shouldn't see it.
Lock Down Network
Security of your office computer network is key as well. To prevent spyware, malware, and other undesirables from entering your network, be sure to have a firewall in place, as well as a program that detects and quarantines or shuts out invaders like viruses. Employees should update passwords regularly – many experts advise every week – and should never open email attachments unless they know exactly what they are. Only a select few, like the office manager and lead physician, should have administrator privileges, to keep changes and vulnerabilities to a minimum. And regular checkups of these security protocols will keep things running smoothly and up to date.
Back It Up
Every office needs to think about disaster recovery, and how you would get up and running again if a natural disaster put your office out of commission. All the day’s work should be backed up before the office closes for the evening, and backup files should be kept in a secure location away from your office if possible. Even if a tornado or hurricane isn’t your main concern, backups are important so that you can be assured that your practice would be able to continue providing care to patients, even if your server or another part of your network goes down.
At least once a month, it is a good idea to ask your office IT expert to scan your systems for problems. More frequent scans are even better, so go with a weekly schedule if possible. This way you can stay on top of any concerns before they cause problems for your office. The office manager or another point person should also check on practices around the office at least every other week to look for problems or find suggestions for improvement. As with any feature of our health, making sure that data is safe and in good shape will keep your practice's patients and staff happy.