Reporter's notebook: Keep that patient data safe

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

In light of the theft of a laptop from an Apria employee in August, HME News asked providers what safeguards they have in place to protect patient information. 

They take it very seriously, we learned.

“Nothing goes out of this office without my approval,” said Richard Wilson, vice president at Woodland Hills, Calif.-based Apguard Medical. He makes sure all patient data is sealed and employees aren’t taking information home. “I sign off on everything before it leaves the office.” 

The provider is also careful to verify the identity of people requesting information before releasing it, he says. 

In addition to maintaining a watchful eye, technology plays a big role when it comes to protecting patient data.

Provider Samuel Clay still uses paper tickets when making deliveries but once that information gets back to the office and scanned into the provider’s computer system, it’s protected by firewalls, passwords, an off-site server backup and the building’s alarm system. 

“We’ve made it very difficult for thieves to get into the system,” said Clay, president of Petersburg, Va.-based Clay Home Medical. “You have to make sure technology is protecting you.” 

Craig Daley, president of Ormond Beach, Fla.-based Comfort Medical Supply, says his data is stored offsite, accessible only with the correct usernames and passwords. If an issue arises, such as a stolen laptop, that username and password would immediately be turned off, he says. 

“If something happens, we can shut down access completely, even to that employee’s email,” said Daley.