Written by Madeline Hyden, MGMA-ACMPE writer/editor
Personal use of practice computers can be a point of contention for any manager. To best manage your staff’s internet use, choose a practice policy and communicate expectations to staff.
Determine your policy
If staff members spend most of their time in front of a computer, chances are they’re going to access web content that isn’t work-related. Decide whether you want to prohibit all non-work-related computer use, limit it to lunch times or breaks or have an open policy as long as it doesn’t interfere with productivity.
Also, remember that if you strictly prohibit any personal computer use, your employees may opt to check their email or social media accounts on smart phones instead, whether that’s in the bathroom, kitchen or in front of patients.
Create an internet usage agreement
Regardless of whether you prohibit all personal computer time or allow limited access, once you create an internet usage agreement ask each employee to sign it when he or she is hired. You may also want to combine this with your cell phone usage agreement, if you have one.
Statements in your agreement may include:
- Users should have no expectation of privacy related to the use of any practice system.
- Users may not use the practice’s computers to access, review, upload, download, store, print, post or distribute materials that use inappropriate language or images that are disruptive to the work environment.
- Users may not play games.
- If a user inadvertently accesses unacceptable materials or an unacceptable internet site, the user immediately discloses the inadvertent access to his or her supervisor.
Communicate staff’s right to privacy
Let your staff know at time of hire that all computer equipment and networks belong to the practice. Therefore, any and all computer activity at work is monitored and staff essentially forgoes any right to privacy while using practice computers. Include a privacy section in your usage agreement.
Keep your anti-virus software up to date
Always make sure your computers’ anti-virus software is updated as soon as you get an alert, especially if you allow your staff to access personal email or social media accounts at work. It’s easy to accidentally download a virus-infected attachment, which could wreak havoc on your network.
Consider a web filter
To gain more control of your staff’s web activity, consider installing a filter that prohibits certain non-work-related websites. This could include Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, video sites like YouTube or Vimeo, or email websites. Many filters also give you the option of restricting websites during certain hours of the days, such as high patient volume times.
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