This essay focuses on breach of data confidentiality as a potential source of problems in healthcare institutions. Ensuring data confidentiality in healthcare institutions is a form of creating accountability in care organizations (American College of Healthcare Executives, 2012). The paper looks at causes, consequences, and recommendations on effective management of data.
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Poor handling of patients’ confidential data can cause serious problems in healthcare institutions. Therefore, preventing unauthorized access to and improper use of such data are mandatory parts of effective data governance in healthcare institutions.
The goal of information confidentiality is to eliminate data security threats such as data loss and unauthorized access to, inappropriate use, and distribution of such data. This is a potential source of reputation and data privacy challenges in healthcare institutions.
Causes and Prevention
Healthcare institutions experience data confidentiality breach from unauthorized access, manipulation, usage, and distribution. Therefore, healthcare institutions must make sure that data are confidential by providing data security solutions that safeguard, restrict, and prevent unauthorized access to patients’ information.
In addition, healthcare should stop any authorized access or use of such information using its internal structures for restrictions. Therefore, in order to ensure information confidentiality in healthcare institutions, there should be several measures to prevent confidentiality breach.
First, healthcare institutions should use controlled access systems. This aims at preventing access to information by providing various access levels and authorization. Healthcare institutions should ensure that employees only get access to information relevant to their job categories. Second, healthcare institutions should have restrictions on gaining access to areas and systems with medical records of patients. Third, healthcare institutions should have identification and authentication procedures for their employees.
This approach ensures that only people authorized to get access to data do so. It should also implement real-time identity procedures to ensure that only employees with authorization can get access to patients’ information. Fourth, healthcare institutions should have systems that conceal patient’s identity as a way of controlling access to patients’ information. Thus, people can gain access to and use such information without compromising their confidentiality (American Medical Association , 2012).
Importance of ensuring data confidentiality
There are serious ethical and legal consequences of breaching data confidentiality. As a result, ethics and laws about information confidentiality have evolved to protect both patients and institutions. However, healthcare institutions face constant threats from computerized systems as they have changed how people gain access to and use confidential information.
Given difficulties with information governance in healthcare institutions, healthcare institutions and their employees should ensure utmost protection of patient confidentiality. Employees in healthcare institutions must ensure that confidential data remain protected always. Therefore, it is the duty of caregivers to let patients know the limits of confidentiality. Thus, patients must make informed decisions about protecting their sensitive information by avoiding disclosure and choice for treatment.
Patients also expect their caregivers and physicians to respect their privacy. In other words, caregivers and physicians can only release sensitive medical records with informed consents of patients.
It is only important for physicians and caregivers to know laws that involve effective protection of confidentiality, and should not ignore any form of confidentiality breach. This is because even minor cases of confidentiality breach result to mistrust, potential lawsuits together with disciplinary action or dismissal from the job (American Medical Association, 2012).
Recommendations for information confidentiality in healthcare institutions
Healthcare institutions face many challenges due to confidentiality of information shared across many sections. Human problems and management practices are serious threatens to information confidentiality in healthcare facilities. Therefore, effective information confidentiality and governance should involve the following.
Healthcare institutions must educate both their staff and patients about the importance of maintaining information confidentiality. This ensures that people who handle such confidential data understand possible consequences of confidentiality breach.
Healthcare institutions must also create systems that guard against any form of breach in confidentiality. This implies that policies and access controls should focus on regulatory and legal benchmarks. This prevents threats to information confidentiality.
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If information governance procedures and access controls will have desirable impacts on healthcare provisions and management activities, then employees will adopt desirable practices when handling data. This improves quality of healthcare and satisfaction of patients.
Different units should also align their procedures and information controls with those of the institution. This eliminates cases of unauthorized access to information. This requires all departments to collaborate and create aligned systems of gaining access to information.
Healthcare facilities must also develop and implement procedures for reporting any case of breach in confidentiality of information. All parties know severe consequences of information misuse and loss, such as financial, trust, reputation and regulatory.
Further, healthcare institutions must also avoid corresponding fines, lawsuits, loss of patients’ confidence, and misuse of information by adopting effective information governance. Therefore, any healthcare institution can reduce cases and impacts of breaches in data confidentiality by implementing appropriate methods of managing and reporting cases of confidentiality breaches.
In case of any confidentiality breach, healthcare institutions should have appropriate response mechanisms to confidentiality breach and propose alternative measures to reduce impacts of such cases.
American College of Healthcare Executives. (2012). Top Issues Confronting Hospitals: 2011. Web.
American Medical Association. (2012). Confidentiality: Computers. Web.
American Medical Association. (2012). Patient Confidentiality. Web.