Master HIPAA Compliant Document Management

HIPAA Compliant Document Management

As more healthcare providers move to electronic medical record systems, it can be easy to overlook the paper records accumulated and stored. What do you need to consider to ensure HIPAA compliant document management?

HIPAA Compliant Document Management: (Don’t) Show Me Your Papers

The primary focus of HIPAA documentation requirements is the protected health information (PHI) of patients. The HIPAA Privacy Rule prevents the unauthorized use and disclosure of this information without the patient’s authorization. 

In other words, PHI should only be used or accessed by people with a medical or business reason for doing so. This standard is the same for both electronic records and paper records. 

Something as simple as a patient sign-in sheet could result in a HIPAA violation if people can see the information left by other patients. Those violations could lead to severe fines.

The easiest way to limit accidental disclosure of patient PHI is to keep information and files out of sight of those who don’t need access. That could be other patients, members of the janitorial staff, or even coworkers who do not have a medical or business purpose to view a particular patient’s PHI.

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HIPAA Compliant Document Management: Get Everyone on the Same (Policy) Page

Every office needs to have straightforward policies that cover the proper use and release of patient PHI. Even more important, employees must be aware of these policies and commit to following them.

A HIPAA breach can happen, even when someone has the best intentions, like releasing information to an adult child without signed authorization from the patient. Even if the patient was not upset by the release when it happened, it would still be a HIPAA violation.

HIPAA policies and procedures are a requirement to be compliant. Employees must be trained and attest to these policies, and policy violations must be addressed, with consequences up to and including termination of employment. 

The government takes this seriously. You should do the same.

HIPAA Compliant Document Management: A Tear-Free Goodbye to Old Records

Unless you have a budget like the U.S. Government, you can’t just keep everything in storage forever. Old records need to be disposed of properly. One such way to dispose of paper records is by shredding them. 

However, you must ensure that you use HIPAA compliant document shredding methods. HIPAA specifies that it must be impossible to recover PHI by reassembling shredded or destroyed documents. Otherwise, you guessed it, another HIPAA violation.

That will likely mean turning to a document storage and disposal company, depending on the age of the documents. In either case, you will need a business associate agreement with the company providing these services. 

HIPAA rules and regulations state that you must have a signed BAA before transferring PHI to another company. It doesn’t matter if the PHI is in physical or electronic (ePHI) format. This document should clearly define the responsibilities and liability of each party. 

Imagine if the shredding company you chose left a box of patient records on the sidewalk when loading their vehicle. That shouldn’t be your responsibility, and your BAA is there to cover precisely that kind of instance.

HIPAA Compliant Document Management: Make it Simple

Instead of going through HIPAA compliance alone, you could minimize headaches, maximize peace of mind, and reach compliance Nirvana with Compliancy Group. We have suggestions, solutions, and strategies that can guide you to total compliance, whether your records system is high-tech or strictly pen and paper.

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