Information security and privacy is critical to maintain trust

Written by Ray Sabharwal
Edited by Neil McDonald

Impacted students have to engage with multiple health and diagnostic professionals, many of them external to the educational service provider environment. School staff have to access client data and share with multiple internal departments and external service providers in an efficient and effective way. It is imperative that data accessibility and sharing are secure, and that privacy is maintained at all times.

To avoid data breach, manipulation, or misuse, attention must be paid to the selection of tools and technologies that administer client information. It will be prudent to ensure that the technology provider is ISO certified and meets ISO/IEC 27001:2013 standards and guidelines for information security management systems. If the school or university is catering to international students, data should be protected by the HIPAA/HITECH ACT in the United States, the Privacy Act 1988 in Australia, PIPEDA in Canada, the E.U. General Data Protection Regulation, and/or other statutes, and the service provider must be compliant at all times. The solution provider must clearly address the privacy of Personally Identifiable Information and Protected Health Information (PII/PHI) as well as client data rights.

Embrace process efficiencies to improve the bottom line
One of the easier ways to accelerate efficiency is to eliminate task redundancy. Students with personal health and safety issues such as abuse, violence, mental health, disability, etc. are a priority for every educational service provider and need immediate attention. As mentioned above, this means their information has to be shared with multiple health and diagnostic professionals, many of them outside of the school environment.

Imagine school staff members recreating or retyping a student’s information either manually or by replicating from one tool to another! Multiply this instance by the number of students impacted across each campus every day, and this will quickly add up to substantial redundancy.
Co-workers working on a computer

A simple option to increase efficiency and data accuracy is to enable impacted students to enter their information themselves. This will reduce data entry errors as well as diminish administrative work for the school or university staff. The other possibility is to embed smart forms in the student engagement process that allow data transfer from one tool to another, including the ability for students to sign electronically. The audit trail associated with this data transfer can help universities and schools meet their compliance requirements.

Another area of improvement is when schools must provide information externally to other service providers. This could mean staff have to retype a student’s information either manually or by copying from one tool to another, especially if each internal department is using a different platform. Manual information sharing or re-entering data provides massive potential for data errors and theft.

Data duplication issues also surface if students are impacted by multiple issues and initiate their clinical process with different teams. This would mean the same student having multiple profiles across teams or systems, adding to reduced efficiency in resolving student issues but also creating additional costs for the school. Many multi-location or multi-department organizations have adopted a single platform approach to connect multiple departments and service streams such as counselling, mental health, abuse, EAP etc., to help provide coordinated services.

Smiling graduate

There is an excellent opportunity for schools, colleges, and universities to improve the bottom line while enhancing the well-being of the student community. Tools and technologies are available that enable process efficiencies, assist with compliance, and improve engagement. For a forward-looking, growth-focused education service provider, this is the time to adjust the trajectory and create a competitive advantage.

Schedule a complimentary assessment of your network by a Penelope expert and discuss how Athena Software can assist you in building a secure, shared network and creating an efficient ecosystem for your students’ well-being.

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