Include the EHR and Patient Portal in a Disaster Recovery Plan

Have a backup plan in place for data that staff and patients are used to accessing through the portal. This plan should include off-site storage of data plus ways of accessing that data when the clinic’s computers are not available.

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Bring the Clinic HIPAA Officer into Portal Implementation

Involve your Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) officer in every step of portal deployment. As each portal module is evaluated and deployed, the HIPAA officer should oversee developing workflows and oversight measures that secure protected health information (PHI), as it is defined in the HIPAA Security Rule.

Provide Oversight to Prevent Improper Release of Protected Health Information

Because portals can transmit PHI, portal operations must have close oversight to avoid exposing that information due to inadequate staff training, improper software configuration, vendor errors or user errors. Portal workflows must safeguard PHI.

Plan to Read Clinical Messages Promptly

Clinical messaging is a portal functionality that allows secure communications between a patient and their provider/care team. Portal systems typically warn patients not to use clinical messaging for emergency needs, referring them to 911. Even with this warning, many clinics find it critical to view patient messages as soon as possible.

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