How Does HIPAA Affect your Practice?
The Internet poses unique opportunities and challenges to the healthcare industry. It enables the industry to lower transaction and operational costs while providing better service to customers, partners, and physicians. Leveraging an open network such as the Internet also raises concerns about the privacy of individually identifiable patient information. To address these security concerns, the United States Congress passed HIPAA "The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act", a set of standards that simplify electronic transactions and define minimum requirements for network security. As healthcare organizations strive to leverage the Internet, they need to deploy a security architecture to meet government regulations and ensure the trust of patients.
How to Become Compliant?
The Administrative Simplification section of HIPAA is designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the healthcare system by standardizing the electronic data for specified administrative and financial transactions, while protecting the security and confidentiality of that information.
As a health care provider it is important that you start preparing for HIPAA implementation. It is advisable that you create forms informing your patients about office policies in regards to their medical information. Such forms should include:
You will need additional consent forms with every additional disclosure such as in transfer of record, referral or consultation…etc. There should also be a separate consent form for the patient to sign indicating the use and disclosure of all protected health information. A copy of this must be forwarded to the billing company to be kept with the patient's record. Patients have a right to request restrictions on the use of their protected information. It is imperative that health care providers work closely with billing personnel on this issue. All entities need to be compliant. Noncompliance will put all parties at risk. For a detailed description of the rule, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services HHS Fact Sheet.
- Place where their files are stored,
- Who has access to their files,
- Name, address, and contact information of your billing service,
- Name of the healthcare clearinghouse claims are processed through,
- Method of transmission of claims.
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