09 Sep Medical Billing and Coding and HIPPA Compliance
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) changed the manner in which patient information is handled. Whether you work in a doctor’s office, a hospital, or a medical billing and coding company, HIPPA affects how you perform your duties. In the past few years, following HIPPA guidelines and procedures has become even more important, as the U.S. government is actively auditing healthcare practices and those businesses associated with the field, and they are levying heavy fines against those who are not in compliance.
Thus, making sure that every aspect of your record keeping, including the storage and sharing of each patient’s medical information, is up to HIPPA standards is important. Here are some ways in which you can enhance your ability to be in compliance with HIPPA and to avoid costly fines.
Basic Practices to Follow
In many ways, the simplest and most basic practices followed on a daily basis will help to create an atmosphere that is conducive to compliance. The first thing to always do is to keep all patient information secure and to respect every patient’s right to privacy. Always act in a professional manner when dealing with any patient information, only sharing it with those who need to know. If in a setting open to the public, never discuss patient information regarding payments, insurance, medical condition, or any other subject. When doing so in a professional setting always be discrete.
In terms of protecting patient information from any type of technological incursion by those who may want to access it, it is advised that all data be kept on a secure server that utilizes the highest encryption technology. Passwords need to be complex. Most websites undergo hundreds if not thousands of break-in attempts by hackers on a daily basis. Weak passwords are commonly the cause of security failures. Passwords should be changed often.
What Not To Do
Safeguarding patient information is the responsibility of anyone who comes in contact with it. Thus, following basic practices, such as never writing a password down next to or near your workstation, never sharing a password, and never using the same password on numerous devices, should be followed.
Never discuss patient information of any kind with anyone outside of the workplace and when doing so in the workplace only discuss it with those who possess the clearance and authority to have access to such information. Do not send personal emails or text regarding patients, and follow any and all secure procedures for the sharing of data with those that do need to know. If it is not important or essential that the information be shared, then do not share it in anyway.
Professional at All Times
Whether you work in a hospital, at a doctor’s office, or for a medical billing or coding company, professional decorum should always be maintained. If you behave in a professional manner, which includes protecting all sensitive patient information and data, you will be able to maintain your compliance with the standards set by HIPPA.