Anyone that has been to a hospital or clinic knows that paperwork is an important part of the healthcare process. Patients are required to sign release and consent forms, and the facilities maintain detailed records on each and every patient. One of the primary responsibilities of healthcare IT staff is to ensure the privacy of patient files and paperwork. Let’s take a closer look at why privacy is so important in the healthcare field, what risks are involved with printing patient documents and how can those risks be avoided.
Privacy within Healthcare Systems
IT professionals in the healthcare field can point to the passage of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in 1996 as a turning point in the relationship between healthcare facilities and technology. HIPAA put a large emphasis on patient rights and confidentiality.
These measures were further improved, and penalties for violating them stiffened when the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) was passed. Now, healthcare providers not only need to keep patient privacy and confidentiality in mind when printing, they also have to find ways to reduce waste, cut costs and adopt innovative and sustainable print processes.
How Printing Fits into the Picture
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has identified printers, copiers and multifunction printers as a potential liability for healthcare facilities. Without controls in place to control access to documents and print devices, confidential patient information is put at risk across an entire healthcare network.
In order to address this liability, and be in compliance with the Acts above, certain steps need to be taken so healthcare facilities can protect their patients, and themselves. One solution is printing security software, which reduces the level of vulnerability by adding a level of protection to patient records, prescription and personal identification information.
Vulnerabilities in Operating without Printing Security Software
If your healthcare facility is operating without proper printing security software, it becomes far too easy for confidential information to fall into the wrong hands. The most obvious problem occurs when print jobs are sent to printers. If an employee across the building sends a print job to a network printer and then has to walk down the hall to retrieve the print, there is a window of time for that information to be picked up from the output tray by any individual in the office.
Another critical vulnerability associated with healthcare printers relates to accessibility controls. Which employees can access files on the system? More importantly, which employees have the clearance to print and make copies?
Without printing security software, it is difficult to prevent unauthorized access to and reproduction of patient files.
How Security Software Solves Printing Problems
Privacy & Confidentiality
First and foremost, printing security software provides a way to establish necessary security measures. When it comes to print jobs, one solution is keycard access at the printer. When an employee sends a print job to the printer, it doesn’t just print out automatically and sit in the output tray until the employee retrieves it. Instead, the employee’s badge number is assigned to the print job. When the employee goes to the printer, they must scan their badge in order to start the print job. This measure helps solve both privacy and wasteful printing problems. Now, confidential print jobs are not sitting around in output trays for anyone to take or see.
Robust reporting systems within print security software can also help produce audit trails that show administrators who has printed what projects and from which devices. These reports help administrators track printing habits in the office, enforce printing restrictions and empower staff to take accountability for the projects they are printing.
Wasteful and Unnecessary Printing
Printing security software not only helps secure confidential documents in a healthcare setting, it also helps reduce waste, lower print costs and improve the sustainability of print. Because jobs do not print until an ID badge is scanned, some unnecessary print jobs are never produced.
Paired with a Managed Print service, this software can help healthcare facilities maximize the productivity from existing devices, minimize the number of devices used and streamline workflow.
Print Security Software in Action: CentraCare Health
CentraCare Health is one of central Minnesota’s largest healthcare providers. The company turned to Marco for Managed Print Services, which included the installation and implementation of printing security software. The result was a huge success; CentraCare was able to reduce its printer fleet by 89 devices and reduce costs over a five-year program, without sacrificing effectiveness. They estimate a savings of $350,000 to $400,000 per year, while still operating a fleet of 500 HP devices and 200 multifunction devices.
Following the initial needs assessment, Marco also initiated PaperCut MF, a secure printing software. The program requires scanning of employee ID cards to release print jobs. Not only did this program help CentraCare secure its documents, it also created further savings; they saved $65,000 in 2013 in print jobs that were sent to devices, but never printed because no one came to retrieve the document.
Printing security software helps healthcare facilities by securing access to documents and providing secure printing, while also providing operational savings.