The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was developed to protect health insurance coverage for employees and their families when they lose or change jobs, so it's critical for providers to find effective ways to ensure HIPAA compliance. Healthcare providers that handle any electronic medical data must ensure that the proper measures are in place while accessing, saving and sharing any medical data to keep patient information secure.
HIPAA is especially important to medical billing and coding professionals that work with sensitive situations on a regular basis. All insurance, provider, and patient information that is dealt with during the medical billing process must be kept secure.
Lack of compliance to the HIPAA standards can lead healthcare organizations to suffer from severe penalties that include a damaged reputation and substantial fines. Applied Medical Systems recommends the following ways to ensure HIPAA compliance for medical practices:
The most important way to ensure HIPAA compliance is to educate all employees who use or disclose protected health information. Training courses should be documented and a refresher course should be taught to train employees on new policies and procedures.
Keeping Mobile Devices Secure
One of the most common HIPAA violations is when mobile devices that contain patient health information are stolen or lost. It is the responsibility of the organization itself to keep their mobile devices secure and in the hands of the correct employees. If an employee misplaces a tablet, phone, or laptop, the healthcare provider will pay for that mistake.
When mobile devices are not in use, employees must shut them down and keep them locked. Secure user authentication, encryptions, and firewalls should also be implemented on every device. There are also several software programs and apps that can enable mobile devices to remotely lock.
Disposing of Paper Files
There have been many HIPAA violations because employees either chose not to or forgot to shred paper files prior to throwing them out. The most efficient way to prevent employees from violating HIPAA because of human errors is to switch to an electronic filing system. If paper files are still preferred, employees must know to triple check that all paper files are properly disposed.
Using Social Media Wisely
Due to the popularity of social media, there has been an increased risk of HIPAA violations. The best way to prevent employees from violating HIPAA because of social media is to implement a policy that restricts them from posting any images or text about what happens in the workplace. If an employee posts a sensitive piece of content, even if it doesn’t include employee names or only discloses a small piece of the situation, an organization can suffer from extreme fines.
In order for a healthcare practice and its medical billing procedures to stay HIPAA compliant, every employee must understand and comply to HIPAA regulations. Proper training and ongoing education on HIPAA rules as well as the consequences that may occur for non-compliance, is the most effective way to keep a company safe.
The medical billing professionals at Applied Medical Systems are thoroughly trained on HIPAA rules and regulations. For trustworthy medical billing services that adhere to HIPAA and keep your medical practice in its optimal shape, contact us today.