By Ron Prevatte Director of Sales and Business Development with Integrated Solutions in Technology

The internet is a necessary part of the healthcare world today. This forces us to deal with the issue of managing employee Internet usage which can be a drain on your organizations productivity. This holds true in the healthcare industry whether you run a small clinic, large practice or hospital.

Whether it be social media, online shopping or email we are all affected by the Internet and constantly connected to our devices. Then we have the growing move towards “Bring your own device,” which employers also need to manage.

Employers can’t afford to let staff spend one to two hours a day browsing the Internet for personal use. You may want to think that your employees apply some self-regulation, but without monitoring how would you ever know? This leads into the idea of internet monitoring.

So what does US law say employers can do regarding Internet monitoring?

Local legislation will vary depending on the state, but generally speaking, it is legal for a company to monitor the usage of its own property, including computers, laptops, and cell phones. The Federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act states that an employer-provided computer system is the property of the employer. Therefore, employers that provide an employee with a computer system and Internet access may be free to monitor almost everything that an employee does with that equipment. What does this mean for the employer?

It is a necessity for an employer to outline this in a business Internet and Email Usage Policy in your company handbook and clearly state whether email and Internet usage is being monitored.

Make Sure Your Employees are made aware of your policies
If the employer decides to monitor Internet and email access, you must ensure your employees are aware you are doing this and to what extent. It’s best to include your policy in the staff handbook and ensure all employees read and understand its content. This should be part of your standard employee orientation and training process.

Clearly state what’s acceptable and what’s not
We can tell employees that all Internet and email usage is being monitored but how do they know what’s acceptable? For example; Do you allow use of Facebook® and other social media during lunch breaks from desk computers or is it banned completely? Is it ok for staff to access these sites using their mobiles during work hours? What types of sites are they not allowed to access? You can take care of this by writing a simple and short Internet and email usage policy.

State Clearly the Consequences
Having a clear procedure for dealing with a violation of your Internet usage policy makes life easier for you and your organization and outlines clearly for every employee what the consequences are if they fail to comply with your internal policies.

As a business owner or Practice Administrator having clear policies regarding Internet usage in the organization handbook will make it easy for employees to find out what’s acceptable in your workplace.

If you need assistance with this, Integrated Solutions can provide help with monitoring, filtering and managing your internet usage as well as assisting you with making sure your policies are well- written and enforceable.