A study was once done to determine how many confidentiality breaches took place in 13 general practice reception areas. For two hours, someone observed staff and patient behaviors to gather the data.
Along with the management systems, physical environment was analyzed. It was determined that patient information was overheard 45 times. Most of these cases were face-to-face breach of confidentiality, while around 22 were initiated by staff, 22 by patients and 10 during phone conversations. Names, addresses, conditions, symptoms and test results were carelessly displayed or voiced.
Keeping a reception area confidential is of extreme importance to your customers. It is important to strategically organize the layout, deter focus from the reception area and setup sound barriers. Here is a look at how to keep your reception area confidential.
Creating your floor plan
A great way to start is by creating a privacy floor plan. Keep your information confidential by setting up the reception area in a layout that makes it difficult for clients or other guests to accidentally see confidential paperwork.
Make it harder for guests to hear confidential details by setting up the reception and waiting areas in separate rooms or by installing opaque, sound-dampening acoustic wall panels in an open floor plan. These are perfect for separating areas, and either arrangement is a great way to keep the reception area away from clients or vendors.
Establish Protocol for Reception Desk
It will not only help to change the reception layout, but also the procedures for the reception desk. Non-reception staff and visitors are still going to have accessibility to confidential information with the new layout. By establishing rules and procedures for staff, you’ll limit the potential.
Some of the most basic privacy protection rules you can implement for your clients include:
- Only reception staff are allowed behind the desk
- Reception staff must cover up paperwork when someone approaches
- Staff must log off of computers or lock paperwork when they leave their workstation
Educate the public
Make sure the public and staff understand the rules you’ve set in place. Privacy and confidentiality training is a great tool to use with your staff to implement rules and procedures for the desk. You can put up signs and posters as reminders, send out emails or postal mail to regular visitors, and install signs near the reception desk to educate the public on the importance of keeping information confidential.
The health care field is one of the most affected by confidentiality issues. Be sure to safeguard confidential information at the reception desk and educate your staff that they are not to reveal information on the phone or in public areas. Tell them not to discuss information with anyone that isn’t approved to hear it.
Law firms are also victims to confidential information leaking. Most law firms implement systems to prevent a breach in confidentiality for their clients by redacting names on receivable reports, shredding old client lists and training personnel not to talk about clients in public places.
In the reception area, confidentiality can be difficult to uphold. Papers and client file folders are usually laying out with computer screens visible and names being announced over the telephone. It’s really important that visitors in close proximity can’t hear or see something confidential.
By working on your office’s layout, sound availability and training your staff or proper procedures, you can eliminate confidentiality breaches. Use these tips to secure your office and avoid potential lawsuits.