Data Integrity and Security
Janine knows that her director, Marie, has her employees use HIFIS not just to make things like book–ins and case management easier but also to understand the needs of the clients better and to report to various funders, researchers and policy makers.
Marie has asked Janine to read the following information to familiarize herself with the common issues in data integrity (how accurately the information reflects reality) and data security.
What is Data Integrity?
Data integrity is about making sure that the data you enter are accurate. It is important that you double check all information that is entered into HIFIS and to ensure it makes sense.
Why is data accuracy important?
- HIFIS contains a database with information about your clients
- You use this information to give clients the supports they need
- The information should provide an accurate picture of homelessness as encountered in your organization
- Your organization, the funders, and other decision makers at the local, provincial and national levels depend on accurate data to make decisions
- Duplicate or incorrect data will make any reports you generate inaccurate
- Inaccurate reports could misrepresent the effectiveness of your programs and affect funding and planning decisions
What causes inaccurate data?
- Entering the same client more than once
- Not choosing the correct value in drop-down fields
- Reversing the month and day when entering dates
- Adding information to the wrong client record
- Sometimes information entered into the software may save incorrectly. Always review the data after you enter it to ensure it is accurate.
HIFIS and Data Security
Having all of your client data in one place, where you can access it easily and efficiently, can certainly improve the services you provide to clients. However, there are also security concerns that go along with this data. There are many things that HIFIS does to address these concerns but you also play an important role in protecting the data.
Password Management: Passwords are like the keys to your information. Every user who logs into HIFIS has a key that can be lost or stolen. There are steps you can take to minimize the risk of unauthorized people gaining access to your data through lost or stolen keys.
- Vary your passwords for different applications—if one password becomes compromised, you do not want to lose the security of your other applications
- Change your passwords often
- Make your passwords hard to guess but easy for you to remember
- Change your password immediately if there is a chance it could have been disclosed
- Don’t reveal your password to anyone
Remember, passwords are like your toothbrush: you use it every day, you change it every 3 months, and you never share it, not even with your best friend!
Protecting the Privacy of Your Clients
Lock your computer: Getting in the habit of locking your computer workstation or any terminal that can access HIFIS data when it is unsupervised, will ensure that client records and other files are not easily accessed.
No unauthorized access: Wireless networks should be protected with a wireless encryption protocol to prevent unauthorized people, such as people passing by on the street, from accessing files on the network. If HIFIS is accessed over a wireless network, be careful not to give out the user name or password to anyone that hasn’t been authorized.
Protect your equipment: Implementing proper password management and encryption protocols will not help protect your computer if the physical machine is stolen or damaged in some way. Consider keeping servers and other computers behind locked doors and remember that a laptop is much easier to steal than a desktop.
For future reference you can print the HIFIS and Data Security Reference Sheet available through the HIFIS software. To download it, open the Help menu in the software and choose “Get HIFIS Documents”.
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