Many people talk about HIPAA compliance, but not everyone truly knows what it means. Sure, it means private medical information is to be kept private, but are people who work in medical offices absolutely certain how to stay in compliance with this rather serious legislation?
There are two distinct HIPAA regulations that medical staff must be thoroughly versed in. Let’s talk about what they entail and how you can ensure your practice stays in compliance:
You send out reminders to your clients that they are due for their yearly checkup. You may even send out cards to remind men to get their annual prostate screening or to remind women to get their mammograms.
Your practice goes out of its way to make sure your clients have their checkups, that children are immunized, and that screenings – especially for those at higher risk – are scheduled.
So when was the last time your practice had a checkup, and you had a HIPAA compliance assessment? If it has been a while, or if you’ve never had a HIPAA assessment done, it may be time to take inventory to ensure your practice is in compliance – and not in violation or breach.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) provides guidelines and strict, conservative instructions on how to secure the private data of all of your patients. The purpose of HIPAA compliance is to ensure that personal and private patient information is not compromised.
HIPAA compliance can be as nuanced as having a secure sign-in sheet at the reception desk, to protecting millions of pieces of data with regards to record-keeping, file sharing and transfer, and billing.
Why do data breaches at large institutions make the national news? Because when personal information is compromised, it could take years and billions of dollars to restore security – and regain trust.
Failure to comply with HIPAA standards, or allowing a breach of personal health information (also called protected health information, or PHI), could cost your practice millions, destroy your reputation, and compromise your clients.
Breaches are more commonplace than you might realize. There have been hundreds of practices or associates who’ve been fined for thousands of dollars for severe negligence for not following HIPAA guidelines.
And unfortunately, ignorance of the law doesn’t release the responsible party from disciplinary action by the government. The amount of the potential fine is based on the entity’s degree of negligence, not intent.
When you consider that HIPAA laws are always being updated and amended, and that the onus is on the medical practice to protect patient data, it makes sense to bring in a trusted expert to assess your HIPAA compliance.
Being a HIPAA-compliant practice means that your staff understands how to properly safeguard and process PHI, that billing systems and patient communications are secure, and that proper documentation and procedures are in place to protect your patients’ information.
A HIPAA compliance assessment can identify outdated, amended, and new policies and procedures, test out your IT systems (including your servers and firewalls), verify that your staff is current on these regulations, and determine where risk can be mitigated before a breach occurs.
If you are concerned about the status of your practice’s HIPAA compliance, reach out to an expert to conduct a HIPAA compliance assessment. With an international clientele, ProMD Practice Management is fully immersed in the laws, rules, and requirements of running a secure and compliant medical practice.
At ProMD, we are happy to work with you to ensure compliance on all fronts. Additionally, if you are considering outsourcing your medical practice’s billing or you are dissatisfied with the company you are currently using, consider the certified and HIPAA-compliant billing and collections experts at ProMD Practice Management.
Call us today at 888-622-7498 or fill out our online contact form. We can help make your medical practice run more efficiently.