HIPAA laws exist to protect the privacy of anyone receiving any kind of medical care or assistance. These laws are strict (with good reason!), and if all members of your practice are unaware of their restrictions, it can result in consequences such as fines or even criminal charges. Today we will show you how you can avoid violating HIPAA laws specifically in regards to billing.
Secure your Environment
Don’t do any of your work in an area that is open to the public. Work at a private desk or cubicle, and close your files immediately if anyone enters the room. Keep any paper documents in a locked filing cabinet, and use strong passwords on your computer. Proper antivirus software can help prevent hacking and other attempts to obtain sensitive information. Be sure that your office has it’s own secure internet network and any guests have their own or are unable to get into yours.
Try not to discuss the specifics of your work with anyone– even close family members. It may seem like letting the name of a patient slip to your spouse is harmless, but if that information somehow finds its way into public knowledge, you have breached HIPAA and are liable for any and all damages. Work smart and try not to talk about work in a non-work environment.
Give Out Information Carefully
If a family member of a patient calls you with a question regarding their bill, be cautious giving out information. Unless the patient is a minor and the caller is their parent or guardian, you may be unable to give them any information at all. This is because of the risk of fraud– it is easy for callers to run a phishing scam, calling and pretend to be someone else. Don’t bend rules for irate or upset callers– this can easily lead to a HIPAA violation.
Address Problems Properly
Mistakes happen. Sometimes there are issues within your system, and names, social security numbers, and other critical information can be compromised. When this happens, it is critical that your practice addresses the problem immediately. There are different levels of HIPAA violations, and if a breach occurs unintentionally, the party at fault is only subject to a lower tier fine (usually no more than $100). It is necessary for your practice to alert the federal government as soon as possible in these circumstances. You should also contact any and all patients whose information has potentially been breached so that they can take the actions needed to secure their identities.
Like we said, accidents happen but your main goal in a medical setting is to protect your patients. Upholding HIPAA laws in your office is of utmost importance and it might be a hassle to worry about your practice and billing violations. To get one of those things off your chest, consider outsourcing your medical billing.