When working from home it is important to keep the HIPAA Privacy and Security standards at the forefront as we set up remote working environments in the home office setting. It is equally important to keep a healthy work-life balance in order to manage our time and stress levels effectively.  This article will go over some key tips for managing both successfully.

Under HIPAA, healthcare employers are required to conduct risk assessments and identify hazards and vulnerabilities and mitigate those identified risks.  As more and more employees have shifted to the remote work environment, these risks and vulnerabilities are increasing.  Be sure to know and stay current on your employer’s privacy and security trainings, follow all policies in relationship to workstation and device management, and always keep PHI and ePHI secure. 

Carefully consider the location of your home office space.  An area that is separate and away from the general milieu and conducive to a focused work environment has been proven to be a productive home office space.  Key privacy and security considerations would include: a quiet location away from wandering eyes, locking doors, drawers and file cabinets, and encryption and cable locks for laptops. 

When considering the desk that you will use, a popular choice is the selection of a good sit to stand desktop.  There are many options for selection.  A fan favorite is the sit to stand desktop that can be pre-set for different levels at the push of a button.  This allows us to vary our working position throughout the day which is good to keep the blood flowing and joints limber. 

To avoid repetitive injuries, ergonomics must be kept in mind.  Items such as an ergonomic keyboard and mouse and a gel pad for wrist support should be considered.  Investing in a high-quality chair that supports good posture is major. To break up the monotony, remote workers can also add in an exercise ball to sit on for short periods which is beneficial for strengthening core muscles and balance.  Sit, stand, exercise ball…repeat!   

Stress is a normal part of life and being alive!  It can leave us feeling exhausted and lead to trouble sleeping, irritability, tension, and anxiety.  To help avoid stress, it is important to manage time effectively.  To help you stay on track, set long and short-term goals, and then create a task list to help you reach your goals.  Don’t be afraid to delegate and to re-prioritize as necessary. 

Be sure to take a break away from your workspace.  Meditate, breathe deep, practice some yoga poses, or go for a short walk.  You might enjoy listening to some soothing music or your favorite audio book.  Pet your dog or cat (or other wild thing!).  Most of all be in the moment, be honest and sincere, practice positivity and laugh!  It really is the best medicine! 

With some careful thought we can set up pleasant office spaces and enjoy the benefit of working from home and have a healthy work/life balance, while keeping patient information safe and secure at the same time.    

Written by Cindy Allred, RHIA