Guide to Keeping Your Home and Business Safe
by CHRISTINE LEMAIR
For Safer Home:
Q: “Our gated community is pretty close-knit. There are times when we may see strange vehicles driving through, but we don’t necessarily want to call the police every time we see something suspicious. Is there anything we can do?
A: If you’re a member of a gated community, approach your HOA or community management about upgrading the existing access controls for stricter access requirements and installing license plate/make and model cameras at all the entry and exit points of the community. If people are entering the community strictly for snooping purposes, the sight of the surveillance cameras alone will often deter them from entering.
Q: “We’re leaving for vacation this summer for about a month. I have an alarm system, so I should be okay, right?”
A: If you don’t have someone to housesit for you, consider investing in a marginal amount of home automation. You can control your lights from your cellular phone, tablet PC, or laptop from pretty much anywhere in the world. Schedule the lights in specific rooms to turn on and off at certain times to mimic the appearance that the family is home, and the usual hustle-bustle is afoot. Even if you have an existing alarm system, it may not prevent attempted theft or damage from happening, nor will it always deter a burglar from considering your home as a target. If you’re leaving for an extended period of time and have an alarm, give your monitoring station specific instructions to dispatch police or the fi re department immediately in case of an alarm.
For Safer Office:
Q: “As an owner of a small practice, do I have to do anything else to restrict access to Protected Health Information located in our Electronic Health Records (EHR) besides passwords and firewalls?”
A: Yes. If you’re using an EHR system, HIPAA requires that physical access to the devices and hardware making up the EHR system (servers included) be restricted to only authorized personnel. Look into biometric access controls for the entry/exit points to file rooms containing confidential information. Keys and numeric pass codes can be compromised and misused, but a fingerprint cannot be. Also, consider installing surveillance cameras in the area. It will increase the accountability of your staff and reduce the risk of compromising the confidence of your patients.
Q: “I want to install cameras in my office. Is this going to break HIPAA laws?”
A: No. Compliance lies in the placement of your cameras. You may freely monitor your entry and exit points to the building, the reception area, and the area behind the reception desk. Th e area behind the reception desk becomes slightly gray; as long as visibility of your patients’ paper files or computer screens containing PIH are not within the direct reach of the cameras so that words on a page can be read when viewing camera feeds remotely, you are within compliance. You may also freely monitor your supply closets and any server rooms that may contain hardware tied to EHR. As you may have already guessed, testing rooms and patient rooms are absolutely off -limits for video surveillance.