So shredding your documents sounds easy, right? Well, part of the process is easy, the part where you find a reputable vendor. There are many shredding companies out there that offer a wide range of services to suit the needs of any size company (and even those who need to have personal shredding done). A reputable vendor can take care of the grunt work for you by performing the hard labor, picking-up your documents and either shredding them or storing them. The not-so-easy part of protecting your sensitive documents is being compliant with data protection laws in ALL facets... having a reputable vendor is just the "tail-end" of compliance.
Before you go looking for a company to shred your information, you need to take a look at the laws that affect you that govern what measures need to be taken in the data protection process. Although reading through each law is important (yes, tedious, but necessary), one important yet ambiguous part of the laws is that they are not specific. In fact, they are not specific for a specific reason. Most laws use terminology such as "reasonable measures" when it comes to what you "must do" in order to protect your clients or patients sensitive information. So what does a "reasonable measure" constitute? Well it depends on a lot. What you must do, though, is to spend time working out what is reasonable cost-wise and effort-wise for your entity and then draft a written policy on the measures that you have decided to implement.
Your written policy should at the very least include the following:
-What your entity considers sensitive information
-What should be done when someone in your entity needs to dispose of sensitive information
-What training will be given to employees to ensure that all sensitive information is disposed of properly
-What vendor you will be using for shredding and document storage
-What your emergency plan is in the event a natural disaster strikes in the area of your office location
-What your plan is in the event of a security breach in your office
Don't know where to start now? Well here's a place, download our Compliance Packet by clicking the button below and get our 11 page packet that includes a summary of Massachusetts Data Protection Laws 93H & 93I, a compliance checklist, and an example of Safeguard's Written Information Security Policy.
It's that time of year again, time for spring cleaning. Usually most people spend daunting days and countless hours organizing their documents every year, but we think that should change. Instead of having everything pile up each year waiting to steal your precious spring days away from you to organize it all, why not implement a plan, a document organization plan, that would allow you to never have to waste spring days again??
We'll do you one better than just telling you that you should formulate a plan, we'll GIVE you the plan! And its SIMPLE! What could be better? If you follow our three-step plan, we know that these three steps will bring you closer to free spring days and futher away from docu-disaster.
Step 1: Digitize. When you come across important documents or files, scan them. Save them on a hard drive, disk, or flash drive. Ensure that these are all secure electronic storage methods by password protecting documents. If you can do this daily or even weekly and get into the habit of it, you will thank yourself in the long-run.
Step 2: Decide. So you've digitized important files. Now you need to decide whether or not the document should have a hard copy stored or if the document is safe to be securely shredded.
Step3: DO! Once you have decided to either store the documents or shred the documents, DO IT!
Having a certified and secure document shredding and archiving vendor can not only help to save you time in that you don't have to shred the documents yourself and office space in not having to store your documents on-site, but a vendor makes it easy to get in the habit of storing and shredding. If you have a box of documents you need to add to your storage account, just give them a call and they should be able to retrieve your box, barcode it, add it to your inventory, and securely store it for you. They should also be able to deliver any documents or files to you upon request. A vendor that stores your documents as well as shreds them is a blessing. Usually, a vendor can provide you with locked, slit-top shredding bins or console that can be placed in your office that you can place sensitive documents into whenever you come across them. Change out of full bin or console for an empty one is just a phone call away.
So now you've got a plan. Give us a call and lets get started!
Calling all Doctors' offices! Are your data disposal practices HIPAA compliant? Do you feel comfortable with your employees' knowledge of HIPAA? Are you sure that they are following correct protocol? If you have any question in your mind about HIPAA related data disposal, then we have the perfect answer for you. It's called the NAID Employee Information Disposal Training Program. This program was developed by NAID, the National Association of Information Destruction, and is brought to you (Doctors' Offices) by document destruction vendors that are members of NAID. Safeguard Records Management is a document destruction vendor, and member of NAID, who has realized the importance of this training video and has absorbed the costs of the video and training materials to bring this NAID program to you FREE OF CHARGE.
One of the many benefits of this training includes the fact that it is the ULTIMATE RISK MINIMIZER. "How?" you ask... well, NAID has stated that "HIPAA regulators have written that when employees are appropriately trained on proper data disposal, healthcare providers will not be held full responsible for disposal violations". At the same time, NAID also tells us that "HIPAA regulators have stated that failure to provide such training will result in the highest level of mandory fines".
So what do you have to lose? well, a lot if your office doesn't take advantage of this training program that can be completed in only about a half an hour! To learn more, watch the NAID video below and then when you are ready to have your risk minimized, click on the blue button to request more information or to schedule a training session!
Have you made sure your data is safe? If not, there is a chance it will cost you financially. It could ruin your reputation as well.
In a recent news story, MetLife, headquartered in New York City, whose revenues topped $50 million in 2008, felt the effect of laws involving data storage security. Because they failed to use records management as risk management, they were fined $70,000. Apparently, when they moved from one location to the next, they discarded a lot of trash in the dumpsters outside the office. In it were sensitive records containing social security numbers, addresses and financial account information of people who were current and former clients of MetLife. The hard copy files remained in dumpsters outside the building for well over three days. During this time, anyone could have acquired the information and used it for identity theft.
In North Carolina, a news article from 2010 about Prompt Med spoke of a $50,000 fine, from the urgent care unit having thrown into a dumpster sensitive information including financial accounts and identification numbers of over 700 patients. Records management as risk management would have clearly helped here.
The Carolina Center for Development and Rehabilitation was highlighted in this article for having illegally disposed of the financial information of nearly two thousand patients in 2011. The fine for this was $40,000. The senior officers had plenty of warning about records management as risk management from the above previous incidents, but did not learn from it.
More and more information these days must be secured and companies are having to treat records management as risk management. With the advent of identity theft, any written, electronic, or printed records must be protected if they include personal information about a client. And if the records are to be discarded for any reason, they must be destroyed in a proper fashion, so that the information contained within is kept safe. From this was born the idea of records management as risk management.
Risk management rpocedures are extremely important to implement to prevent Identity theft. Identity theft is any person's personal information being used by another to illegally remove money from bank accounts, acquire loans and passports and commit other crimes. Identity theft is now also known as identity fraud.
There are state and federal laws in place across the country to ensure that the destruction of certain files is done so properly, in order to prevent Identity theft. If proper measures are not take, then the company responsible for not following the precautions can be given some fairly big fines.
In Massachusetts, the laws that aid in the prevention of identity theft are called the General Law 93H and 93I, and are applicable to all companies in the state of Massachusetts secure all data that include personal information, such as bank account numbers, credit and debit card numbers, and the like that have the ability to create identity theft opportunities.
In addition, each company must have safeguards, by the employment of valid identification systems, in order to keep non-authorized personnel from gaining access through computers, or in hard copy files. The company must also keep all locations safe from outside the company. On a regular basis, companies shall be audited to ensure they within compliance. According to the 93I, a company must document the policy of their destruction procedures.
The fines for non-compliance of 93H requires for the company to pay five thousand dollars for each record that was not kept safe. For 93I, the fine is one hundred dollars for each record, with a cap of fifty thousand dollars. These ordinances came into law in 2005.
In addition to state laws, The Federal FACTA Disposal Rule maintains any person or business using consumer reports must make sure all the information within those reports remain completely secure when discarded.
In summary,the risks that someone takes for improper document disposal are inexplicable. Primarily, risks cannot be taken anymore because it is the law to practice safe and secure document disposal, but secondly when there are a multitude of risk management strategies available through document shredding and management companies, how can someone not take advantage of a simple way to reduce risk?
Need to start managing your risk? Or change your strategy? We can help... click on any of the buttons below to be on your way to a risk management solution!
As 2011 comes to a close, businesses and offices are wrapping up their yearly doings, taking time to enjoy the holidays with colleagues, and getting ready for the start of the new year. Safeguard is too! Safeguard Records Management has decided to bring TWO exciting new offerings to the table in order better serve our destruction and archive customers.
Our first new offering will allow prospective and current ongoing destruction customers to have choices when it comes to their ongoing destruction bin. We are offering a new, duraflex destruction console in addition to the two convenient sized 35- and 65- gallon bins.This Console has many benefits over our shredding bins for offices looking for a more aesthetically pleasing ongoing destruction solution.
The sleek, clean console with a slit top and locking door allows for the security of a locking bin with the added benefit of looking more like it "belongs". Also, the console stays in place with only the interior insert being emptied rather getting a different bin during every rotation.
If your interested in receiving a shredding console, or switching our your bin for a console, contact Sean Kelly via contact form, phone, or e-mail.
Watch this video in order to get a general idea of what the Compliance Training can do for your office
Our second, most exciting offering that Safeguard has decided to take on and provide to our customers in the healthcare industry is the Doctor's Office Compliance Training Program. This exciting program has been developed by NAID, the National Association for Information Destruction and is applicable to healthcare and dental offices. And the best part... it's free! Yes, FREE! The way NAID gets this compliance training program out to healthcare offices is through certified NAID document destruction providers like Safeguard Records Management.
The program can easily be summarized with the 3 following steps:
Receive the video
Watch & Learn
That's it! Simple and quick and you're compliant, just like that! So what are the benefits of your office completing this compliance training you ask?
The best part about completing the HIPAA compliance training is, primarily, that you are at less risk of a breach of patient information (and yes, there is a but) BUT everyone knows that anything can happen these days and breaches can happen even in the most compliant and secure offices so here is where the training program really gives you a HUGE benefit... even if there is a breach of data or information, YOU ARE NOT HELD FULLY LIABLE BECAUSE YOU TOOK THE NECESSARY STEPS (i.e. the training) IN ORDER TO BE COMPLIANT!
Can it get any better than that? For minimal time and ZERO cost to you, your office can get trained on compliance with the HIPAA regulations for safeguarding healthcare information. With the maximum HIPAA fine going up 6,000% from $25,000 to $1,500,00 you have to ask yourself, can you really afford not to complete this zero cost training? (Click for more information on HIPAA)
2012 is gearing up to be a great year for Safeguard Records Management as we look to expand and improve our services in order to meet and exceed the growing needs of our customers. If you'd like to have Sean Kelly get in touch with you regarding anything you have read, please fill out a Contact Us form and he will respond to your inquiry within a couple of hours. In the mean time, be on the lookout for more information on our shredding consoles and the Doctor's Office Compliance Training Program so you can take advantage of it as soon as the new year rolls in!
Happy Holiday's and Happy New Year from everyone at Safeguard!
I'm sure a lot of you have heard of identity theft but what about Medical identity theft?
It's possible and it's happening. A recent data breach at Beth Israel hospital in Massachusetts has left many of its patients at risk of having their medical identity stolen. Medical identity theft is a spin on regular identity theft as it can affect your finances and credit, but it can also affect your health.
What are the warning signs that someone is trying to steal your medical identity?
1. You get a medical bill for services you did not receive
2. A debt collector contacts you regarding a bill for medical services you did not receive
3. You get a copy of our credit report and you see medical collection notices that you do not recognize
4. You try to make a legitimate insurance claim but your health plan says you have reached our limit
5. You are denied medical insurance coverage because your medical records indicate a condition that you do not have
Not only could your finances be affected by medical identity theft, but your medical records and history could be altered which may lead to you receiving improper treatment which may cause illness or worse.
To stay protected, make sure you do the following...
1. Verify sources before giving out information. Giving out medical or personal information over the phone or through e-mail can be risky business and put you are higher risk of having your medical identity stolen.
2. Safeguard your medical and health insurance information. Make sure that your paper files and any medical information you have is protected either under lock and key by using a secure medical archiving vendor or, if your information is online, make sure it is password protected. Always check the security of a website before entering your social security number or credit card information.
3. Properly dispose of your records. If you keep your medical records for a period of time, when the time comes to get rid of your records, never just toss them in the trash. Make sure they are securely shredded and disposed of afterwards.
For more information on how to protect your medical identity, visit
and if you think your rights under HIPAA have been violated, please visit
The maximum fines for HIPAA violations have increased from $25,000 to $1,500,000. That's a 6,000% increase! Violations could include acts such as not properly destroying patient information before it is discarded. Also, if a practitioner has knowledge that their patients information has not been properly discarded, they are legally required to let both the authorities as well as their patients know that information is at risk.
The States' Attorneys General are now the ones in charge of ensuring HIPAA compliance. This change is meant to increase the policing of health care providers. AGs have already shown that they are ready to enforce the HIPAA laws and they are currently being trained by the Office of Civil Rights on how to effectively enforce HIPAA.
With fines reaching over one million dollars, you can never be "wrong" in doing what is right, performing safe and secure document destruction with Safeguard Records Management!
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) fined Massachusetts General Hospital $1 million today for losing the medical records of 192 patients, the second ever fine imposed on a healthcare organization for violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA),
HHS's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) made the following statement in their press release:
"We hope the health care industry will take a close look at this agreement and recognize that OCR is serious about HIPAA enforcement. It is a covered entity’s responsibility to protect its patients’ health information.”
The records that were lost in this case were not electronic, but the law and penalties do not differentiate. However, if encrypted electronic records are lost, you are not required to notify HHS or patients of the incident. In other words, encrypt your data!
The first ever fine for HIPAA violations, imposed on Tuesday, was $4.3 million dollars against Cignet Health of Maryland. Cignet had failed to provide patients a copy of their medical records upon request.
The really disturbing part, though, was that, after Cignet attempted to ignore the government's enforcement action, not only did they deliver the 41 patients' records to the Department of Justice, they handed over 59 boxes of patient medical records, including records for 4500 people unrelated to the case.
From time to time, I have asked health care professionals what they are doing to comply with HIPAA. One doctor told me, "When they start putting doctors in jail, I'll worry about encrypting my records." Maybe these enforcement actions by HHS will change his mind.
Data Leakage Prevention tools and encryption can both play a part in being HIPAA and HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic Clinical Health) compliant. For details on how Sophos can help, browse over to our HIPAA hot topic page.
If you work in the healthcare industry, stop by our booth at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference in Orlando March 21st to 23rd. You can find us at booth 5178 to learn more about how we can help you secure your patients information.