Compliance News You Can Use: Computer Screens & PHI

Protected Health Information (PHI) appears on most computer screens used in healthcare. Under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, each of us is responsible for the privacy and safety of patient information on printers and visible on screens. Here are some tips on protecting computer screen PHI:

  1. Be Safe: Assume computer screens show PHI. PHI elements can include patient demographic information, names, account numbers, addresses, diagnoses, billing information, and over 18 additional items of data. PHI is usually present on computer screens used in healthcare.
  2. Lock computer screens! If you leave your computer, click the Log Off command, click the arrow to the right of the command, and click “Lock”. When you return to your computer, simply enter your credentials and all your work will be immediately available, just as you left it.
  3. Don’t leave clinical equipment computer screens with visible PHI on them. Never leave an item of clinical equipment with a screen unattended with a display of PHI.
  4. Laptops Walk! Never leave a laptop unattended.
  5. Who can see your screen? Can computer screens can be seen by patients? If possible, position your screen to protect it from view.
  6. Respect PHI. Don’t read patient PHI from other computer screens that is not intended for your own appropriate business use.
  7. Monitor screen use. Are other staff leaving PHI unattended on unlocked screens? Encourage better PHI stewardship!
  8. No Unattended, Accessible Screens. Conduct a HIPAA Privacy Review. Screens should never be unattended in areas where they could be accessible to the public.