Technically Speaking: Private Appointments

In 2022, our lives are less private than they’ve ever been. Our personal information circulates widely.  Advertisers can track our location. We can see if someone is busy at work by looking at their shared Outlook calendar. Wait—what?! You can do that? Yeah, you can do that. So, if you want to hold onto at least a little privacy, you should make sure your calendar is secure. And if you like to add surgical cases with protected health information (PHI) to your Outlook calendar, you darn well better be sure you’re doing it.

To do it well, we need to revisit a topic from about a year ago. Outlook features four separate and distinct calendar permissions that restrict the level of detail that colleagues can view on your calendar:

The Children’s default setting is Titles & Locations. Users who’d like their calendar to remain more private or become more transparent will need to change their permission settings by navigating to the File menu, then selecting Options à Calendar à Calendar Options à Change the permissions. This change will only apply to new events; old events will not be affected.

If you have any PHI (or other personal information) on your calendar, please do one of two things: either set your permissions to Free/Busy or make all those appointments Private.  When creating a new event, you can click the Private box to prevent anyone else from seeing any information about that appointment on your calendar. Here’s an example:

You can also right-click on an existing appointment and mark it as Private in the pop-up menu.

Thanks for keeping PHI secure and for all you do!

Correction: In the Jan. 27 edition of TechSpeak, I stated that one could access UNMC email using the Outlook app on their mobile device(s). This is not possible for most people—UNMC email cannot be accessed on any device that does not have UNMC mobile device management (MDM) installed. Those who have a device with UNMC MDM must download Outlook from the UNMC App Store once Intelligent Hub is installed on their device. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

Stephen Dolter, M.D. , CMIO