6 Reasons Why Client Privacy Matters
Client privacy rests atop the list of considerations that social workers, case managers, and human services professionals must make throughout the course of their day-to-day activities. With all the private information being passed around, it can be easy to lose sight of why keeping it confidential is vitally important. So why does client privacy matter to your organization? Here are six reasons that make client privacy the driving concern of dedicated human services professionals all over the world:
1. Protecting clients’ rights
Every individual has a fundamental right to keep their personal information confidential and to make decisions about their own lives. Respecting these rights is among the many responsibilities of a human services professional. To honor the rights of your clients, you must protect their privacy as an integral part of your duties.
Confidentiality and privacy are absolutely essential to ensure that your clients’ rights and dignity are respected. That’s why having a secure information management system is a bare necessity. Many human services organizations are finding software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers to be the solution that’s needed to protect client privacy while embracing a shift to the more efficient and reliable digital systems currently supplanting the manual processes of the past.
2. Securing sensitive information
Your clients’ sensitive information could be potentially harmful if misused. Maintaining its confidentiality is of tremendous importance to prevent any such harm from taking place.
Social workers and case managers working with sensitive documents like mental health diagnoses, financial information, or criminal histories have a firm responsibility to keep those materials from being exposed to anyone who’s not authorized to access them. Neglecting this responsibility may result in a data breach that could damage the reputations of the people and organizations involved. Your information management system must therefore have the proper controls in place to ensure the security of your clients’ data.
By using a SaaS platform like Casebook to manage client data, you can control who has access to your client notes without limiting any of your users’ access to cases. For example, if you had volunteers performing data entry for new clients, they would need access to basic case information but shouldn’t be able to see any confidential client information in the case notes. In that kind of situation, a "locking notes” feature can be vital for client data security.
3. Growing and reinforcing trust
Trust is a crucial component of the relationship between human services professionals and the people they serve. Your clients need to feel comfortable sharing their personal information with the social workers, case managers, and other service providers who need it. Taking steps to protect your clients’ privacy and maintain confidentiality builds trust and helps to establish a better environment for your clients to share their needs and concerns.
When people know that their personal data is kept private, they’re far more likely to trust their service providers and to share important sensitive information that’s needed to properly care for them. Without that trust, your clients may not feel comfortable providing you with that information, which could prevent you from uncovering the insights you need to serve them.
The integral component of your clients’ trust in you stands as a clear reminder of why client privacy matters.
4. Upholding ethical and legal obligations
Human services professionals are bound by ethical and legal obligations concerning their clients' privacy. Local, state, national, and international organizations set various regulations and standards for privacy, and may enforce them as well. The National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics, for one, requires social workers to “respect and protect the confidentiality of clients” and to “obtain client consent before disclosing confidential information.”
Not only are there multiple entities whose client privacy standards you may have to meet, but different standards apply to the various kinds of client information that you might have. For example, in the US, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets standards for protecting the privacy of personal health information. Compliance with HIPAA and other similar regulations is another factor your organization has to consider when choosing a system for managing your client data.
How client data is captured, stored, transferred, and used is given particular weight by many regulatory frameworks as organizations across the continuum of care place a growing emphasis on bolstering their cybersecurity.
To remain within the law, your organization must follow the rules for client privacy that apply to it. By meeting those ethical and legal obligations that support client privacy, you can avoid damaging legal repercussions and ethical dilemmas that could harm your clients and your organization.
Therefore, it's imperative that you understand and adhere to the regulations and standards for client privacy that are governed by the various organizations at all municipal levels.
5. Supporting business objectives
In addition to ethical and legal obligations, certain business considerations make client privacy a key part of human services. Anyone who feels that using your services could put their privacy at risk may not be likely to seek them. And even if they do, they might not feel inclined to disclose information to your organization that could be important or even necessary to provide the care they need. This can drastically affect the quality of care, as well as your organization’s reputation and value.
However, ensuring that your clients feel their personal information remains safe and confidential in the hands of your organization can contribute significantly to its image within the larger community. By making privacy a priority, your organization can build a positive reputation through the strong word of mouth of clients who trust that you’ll protect their sensitive data.
Furthermore, looking beyond the question of why client privacy matters, SaaS platforms like Casebook can also support your business objectives by streamlining internal and external communication, automating repetitive processes, and making report generation a quicker and easier task. The resulting increases in efficiency and client satisfaction can help bolster your organization’s profile even more.
6. Promoting social stability
Protecting client privacy is also important for defending human rights and social justice. People have a fundamental right to privacy, and social work, case management, and human services have a responsibility to respect and support this right. By ensuring client privacy, your organization can play a leading role in addressing power imbalances and preventing discrimination, which can improve the health and stability of human relations.
People who don’t feel their right to privacy is respected may lose confidence in those who try to help them, creating a destabilizing effect on society. On the other hand, when individuals and communities have access to services that protect their privacy, they’re more likely to look for help when it’s needed and to engage in activities that encourage their wellbeing. This can contribute to the creation of stronger, more resilient communities and a more stable society.
Building Value for the Community
Overall, client privacy is an essential component of social work, case management, and human services. More than just a legal and ethical requirement of human services professionals, client privacy is a fundamental human right that promotes the health of society. Additionally, protecting your clients' sensitive information builds critical trust and helps establish an environment that lets them be comfortable sharing their needs and concerns.
By embracing SaaS solutions such as Casebook, human services organizations are choosing to secure their client data, enhance communication, automate essential processes, and produce reports more efficiently, contributing significantly to the effectiveness of their operations as well as their value within the community at large. Privacy, therefore, is not only a moral obligation but also a key driver of business success and social stability.
To learn more about safeguarding client privacy through your choice of software, check out this web page.