Capturing Screenshots and PHI


Screenshots or screen captures are often necessary when sharing an issue with an OP Support representative or other inter-office colleague. Most screenshots display some aspect of protected health information (PHI) and should be handled with care to protect our patients' information. For a list of what is considered PHI, click here. All items on this list should be blurred or blacked out when sharing screenshots from within your practice database.

Packaged Programs to Capture and/or Edit Screenshots

Many operating systems come packaged with programs to capture and/or edit screenshots when PHI is displayed. On Windows 7, it is Paint. On Mac OS X, there is no image editing tool with the operating system, though Preview will allow you to markup your image. With either operating system, if you have some other image editing software on your system (see Other Programs to Capture and/or Edit Screenshots below), you may use that. 

  • Windows Basic Command: The basic command for creating a screenshot in Windows is Ctrl+Print Screen. Please note, this action captures the entire screen and could be difficult to view. When the screen you’d like to have a shot of is showing:
  1.  Hold the Ctrl key on the keyboard.
  2. Press the Print Screen key. 
  3. Launch the Paint program. 
  4. When the blank document for Paint appears, hold the Ctrl key, and press the V key. Your screenshot should appear in the document. From here, you can edit your screenshot to omit PHI as needed. 
  5. After you save it, it will be ready for sending.
  • Snipping Tool: Windows also ships with the Snipping Tool. You can find more about the Snipping Tool on Microsoft’s website. Ctrl+Print Screen works under Windows XP, but the Snipping Tool is not available in XP — you’ll need Windows 7 or later for this feature! The quick instructions are (according to Microsoft):
  1. Open Snipping Tool: Start button > All Programs > Accessories > Snipping Tool.
  2. Click the arrow next to the New button.
  3. Select a snip type from the menu.
  4. Use your mouse or tablet pen to capture a snip.
  5. Use the Pen tool to markup the image so that PHI is no longer displayed.
  • Mac OS X: The basic command for creating a screenshot in Mac OS X is command-shift-3. 
  1. While holding the Command (⌘) and Shift keys, press the 3 key. This will save the screenshot to your desktop.
  2. The command for selecting an area of your screen for a screenshot is Command+Shift+4. Cross-hairs will display, and you can select the area you’d like to capture. This will save the screenshot to your desktop. 
  • iPad: Screenshots can be taken from iPads by pressing a combination of buttons on the device itself. 
  1. Press and hold the Power button, then press the Home button, and release both buttons simultaneously. You will hear a camera shutter sound. The screenshot will be stored in the Photo app, and may be marked up from there.
  • Android Tablet: Similar to capturing a screenshot from an iPad, a combination of buttons will capture a screenshot. How you take a screenshot using an Android tablet depends largely on the type of device you are using. Users should reference a guide for their specific device for instructions on how to capture a screenshot. 

Other Programs to Capture and/or Edit Screenshots

Several screen capturing programs are available for download. Some of them include:

  • Greenshot (free version available)
  • Snagit (offers free trial)
  • Jing (requires Snagit to edit screen captures)