Like many workers in other industries, those in the healthcare field have and will continue to take advantage of working from home. Therapists and psychiatrists, in particular, can easily move their practices to their homes and provide the level of care they do in the office.
Not only is the flexibility and comfortability of working from home enticing, but so is the opportunity to serve patients in a remote or more intimate environment. However, maintaining privacy is a significant issue.
Fortunately, there are ways to ensure your home office provides the appropriate privacy for your patients while you work with them from home.
Privacy Must be at the Forefront
At the end of the day, privacy must be at the forefront of all your design decisions. Whether you’re helping a patient in-person at your home office or doing a video visit with a patient in another state you’re licensed in, you still must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and protect patient information.
Before you do any renovations, sit down and determine the specific construction builds or interior design techniques that support patient privacy. Of course, you want your home office to be visually appealing, but the most important thing is ensuring it’s a place your patients feel comfortable opening up.
Consider Interior Design Techniques That Support Privacy
You can build a private office from the ground up. But if that’s not in the cards right now, and you’re working with an already established home office, there are some interior design techniques you can implement to support privacy.
Soundproof your walls
You should treat all the information your patients share as highly sensitive and confidential. No one but you and your patients should hear that information.
Unfortunately, spouses, children, and other family members may be at home when you’re working. That means they may hear patient information they shouldn’t. Soundproofing your home office’s walls can help prevent this from happening.
The cost of this depends on the size of your home office and the materials you want to use. You can also DIY soundproofing. If you plan on working remotely permanently, however, it may be best to seek out a professional to ensure you’re getting the quality and level of soundproofing you need.
If soundproofing isn’t in the budget, you can do something simple, like putting a sound machine near the door, or playing white noise or low-volume music to ensure those passing by can’t hear your patients’ confidential information.
Use window treatments that maintain confidentiality
Like the people inside your home, you need to be aware of who’s outside your house when caring for patients in your home office, especially if you’re doing an in-person session. Make sure that people walking by can’t see into your home office easily.
Try these window treatments to maintain confidentiality and a bit of style:
- Sleek shutters;
- Darkening curtains;
- Floor-length drapes;
- Screen shades;
- Light-filtering sheer shades.
Window treatments will ensure people outside can’t intrude on your patients’ privacy. They can also help you set a more relaxing mood for them.
Try a floating wall
If you can’t add an actual wall to your home office for more privacy, a floating wall is a good alternative. It can provide privacy and style elements without all the construction.
This may seem complicated, but you can easily DIY it. First, choose the material for the wall, whether thinly cut wood paneling, MDF plastic sheeting, or a piece of art, and ensure it’s the right size. Then, install anchors into your ceiling and connect your floating wall to them.
As easy as that, you’ll have privacy in no time.
Call on a Home Inspector for Help
Let’s say you are building a private office from the ground up or want to renovate its structural foundation by adding a wall, a separate entrance, or a more permanent door. In that case, it’s a good idea to call on a home inspector for help.
A home inspector can thoroughly examine your home office’s structural components. They can point out things that threaten your office's safety and function and guide you on how to fix them.
Start your search for a home inspector through recommendations from family and friends. Follow their recommendations with more research on the company and inspector’s background.
Then, when you think you’ve found a match, ask them questions about what they can provide to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
It’s about ensuring your patients’ physical and psychological safety at your home office.
Keep Patient Information Protected
Not only do you want to ensure any information shared in your sessions stays between you and the patient, but you also want to ensure that information is stored in a secure place. So, suitable tech tools and physical storage options are a must.
Hackers are good at gaining access to public Wi-Fi networks and connected devices to steal data, particularly through the practice of sniffing. Through it, they can hijack any data transferred from a device to the Wifi’s router. So, be sure you’re only using a secure internet connection when dealing with patient data.
You should also have a laptop or computer solely for work with the most up-to-date software and cybersecurity solutions.
And finally, if you will be storing physical documents with confidential patient information, be sure they’re in a locked storage option and only you have access to it.
Create a Home Office Your Patients Can Trust
As wonderful as working from home as a therapist or psychiatrist can be, it raises some valid concerns about patient privacy. Be sure that you’re keeping patient information secure and providing a trust-filled home office environment with the tips above.