Building a privacy liaison program to combat ever-increasing risks

6 minute read

It is the privacy officer’s trifecta of despair: an increasingly complex environment, ever-evolving risks, and a dearth of available privacy talent. As privacy counsel for a large healthcare system, I was part of a three-person privacy team grappling with multifaceted issues inherent in our ever-changing business environment.

I dreamed of an influx of seasoned privacy professionals fluent in all privacy-related issues—research, behavioral health, correctional medicine, health information exchange, patient access, and telemedicine, to name a few. In a perfect world, these eager experts would easily navigate our organization of 8,000 employees, four hospitals, and more than 20 health centers.

Sobered by a few rounds of colleague commiseration, I finally accepted the truth. The privacy cavalry is not coming. This coveted dream team would have to be developed from within the organization.

In this article, I share four steps to developing a privacy liaison program (PLP). These steps enabled us to identify the high-risk privacy areas in our organization from which we recruited liaison candidates. We developed a curriculum and trained and mentored liaisons based on how adults are motivated to learn. Finally, we integrated the PLP into our organization as liaisons share their privacy expertise and mentor the incoming PLP class.

By following these steps, our three-person privacy team was enhanced by 28 additional privacy experts capable of identifying and addressing issues within their departments.

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