Human error is one of the biggest compliance and security threats to any organization—especially organizations in health care. That’s why setting expectations for your staff—and providing continual healthcare compliance training and education opportunities—is so important.
Under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, patients have several rights regarding their medical records, including a right to access, a right to amend, and, in some circumstances, a right to restrict disclosures of their protected health information (PHI). Understanding and complying with those rights is an important component of quality patient care.
If you own a small- to medium-sized physical therapy practice, you are most likely preoccupied with daily operations such as paying bills, marketing your practice, and treating patients. You may know about HIPAA at a high-level—and you may also worry from time to time about a data breach. But, compliance and security are complicated; the regulations are written in legalese.
With electronic storage of protected health information (“PHI”) becoming more common, healthcare providers are rightly concerned about ensuring their data and security systems are not breached, and developing an established course of action in the event that their systems are breached.
Before 2015, data breaches were mostly confined to retail businesses. However, as more patient information becomes digitized, big data breaches are becoming more common in health care. And hackers don’t discriminate; they target organizations of all types and sizes, ranging from big hospitals to small private practices.
I’m sure by now you’ve heard a rumor that California has enacted the most impactful privacy rule in the nation. Maybe you also heard that California’s privacy rule applies to California residents—and that it does not apply to medical information.
Is your relationship with billing complicated at best? I get it. Figuring out how to bill insurance companies for private practice physical therapy can seem daunting, especially in light of ever-changing regulations.
Without a doubt, healthcare practices—big and small—find the HIPAA risk assessment daunting. The HIPAA Security Rule requires all covered entities (a.k.a. providers) and business associates (a.k.a. the people and vendors providers do business with) to conduct an accurate and thorough risk analysis of potential risks and vulnerabilities to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all electronic protected health information (ePHI).
As exhibited in the news items below, small practices are not immune to HIPAA scrutiny by the federal government’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)—as investigated by their enforcement agency, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR).
Here’s a scenario I hope you never have to face: your small physical therapy practice hires a third-party billing company to manage your billing operations. Then, that billing company experiences a massive data breach affecting more than 1,000 of your patients.
Back in 1996—long before the days of social media and smartphones—Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) as a means of governing the manner in which providers, insurers, and business associates collect, share, and use patient protected health information (PHI).
Your clinic environment might be casual, but that doesn’t mean you should throw the rules of professionalism out the window.