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3 Ways Mental Health Providers Can Boost Patient Privacy

Your mental health practice exists to help patients, plain and simple. Whether you offer cognitive behavioral therapy, psychiatry, couples counseling or any other service, patient comfort comes first. And that starts with protecting the privacy of every single person who walks into your waiting room.

While business insurance for mental health organizations is an important and necessary backup plan in case your practice faces a lawsuit or a liability claim, it’s better for everyone involved to take extreme care in how you handle patient interactions up front.

Consider these three ways for mental healthcare providers to boost patient privacy (and contribute to a professional, comfortable environment for all).

Streamline Your Waiting Room

The waiting room is your gateway; your first impression. Is your check-in process airtight, or are there leaks in auditory privacy? If patients seated in the waiting room or standing in line can hear every detail about the patient registering at the desk, you need to change something.

Start by asking patients to stand several feet back from the desk when they join the line. Put up physical dividers to protect the patient currently checking in, and provide background noise (whether it’s a relaxing television channel or soft radio station) so the voices at the front desk aren’t the most obvious thing in the room.

Train Staff Members to Prioritize Privacy

Both administrative staff members and healthcare practitioners should practice appropriate verbal etiquette when it comes to communicating with patients in a public space (like your waiting room). The door between the waiting room and the office area is a firm boundary for discussing patient specifics, even if you’re just wrapping up a conversation.

Therapists and psychiatrists should also remember this tip from Psychology Today: “Don’t walk into the waiting room for a first appointment and announce ‘Jane Doe? Is there a Jane Doe here?’ or come in and say ‘John, I’m ready to see you now.’ You’ve just told a bunch of strangers the name of someone coming in for therapy.”

Your mental health practice also needs documented standards for telephone-based patient communications. For instance, how do your administrative employees make appointments, discuss prescription renewals or leave voicemails? Train your entire staff on how to professionally interact with patients both in person and over the phone so as to uphold their privacy.

Safeguard Electronic Records

A huge portion of patient privacy goes on behind the scenes. If your practice uses electronic records, you need to establish and enforce cybersecurity standards so patient records don’t fall into the wrong hands (either a different patient’s due to a mix-up or a hacker’s due to a data breach). Cyber insurance can help pick up the pieces if your electronic records are compromised, but being proactive goes a long way as healthcare practices transition to primarily online models of record keeping.

Boost your patients’ privacy with these three tips, and in the meantime, bolster your peace of mind with business insurance for mental healthcare. Learn more about your options with CoverHound!

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