Trade Secrets: What they Are and Why They Should Matter to Healthcare Practitioners
Posted on 2/7/2018 by Ali Oromchian, Esq.
There’s an old joke that says that one of the best parts of practicing medicine or dentistry is that you don’t have to practice law (although you might not want to mention this joke to your attorney). There are, however, certain aspects of the law which are relevant to healthcare fields, and with some basic knowledge can go a long way. One of these subjects is the concept of trade secrets.
Trade secrets are, arguably, the backbone of any business. It is the information and practices which set one company apart from another. Trade secrets are similar to patents, except that patents are public, while trade secrets are, well, secret. They can include everything from a medical technique to the formula for Coca-Cola. The biggest danger to trade secrets is the violation of confidentiality. To put it simply, once information is out there, it is out there. Once a trade secret has been made public, whether by accident or deliberate action, it is no longer a trade secret and therefore has no protection.
The biggest challenge to maintaining trade secrets is the employee. This is why confidentiality requirements such as non-disclosure agreements are essential. You should also take action to protect trade secrets by locking file cabinets with important information, changing passwords to your electronic system after a staffer leaves your practice, and ensuring that your workforce fully understands your policy on trade secrets.
Protecting your valuable information can mean the difference between your company’s success and its stagnation. Even (and arguably especially) in health fields, trade secrets must be protected at all costs. Recognizing the importance of protecting these assets is the first step towards protecting them and ensuring the continued success of your practice.