Today’s healthcare professionals deal with many challenges in protecting client information and meeting HIPAA compliance. As privacy laws continue to evolve, physicians attorneys are aware of three main areas where HIPAA compliance issues tend to arise. Specific attention must be paid to these areas and it may be necessary to obtain legal services to help ensure compliance and prevent penalties.
Patient Privacy and Information Security
Every patient has a right to privacy, which includes the secure protection of personal and medical information. Healthcare businesses may also need to share certain information with specific individuals or third parties as a part of doing business and providing services to their patients. HIPAA compliance laws recognize this while also governing what is deemed as meaningful use of such information, requiring businesses to adhere to strict standards when any information is shared.
Besides the use of patient release forms and an adequate way of protecting digital data, it is also the responsibility of a business to ensure that all third party entities are compliant before any patient information is shared with them. Healthcare professionals are directly responsible for any HIPAA compliance issues experienced by their business associates.
Along with the protection of all patient information, healthcare businesses must also practice valid coding and billing for validated services that are deemed medically necessary. They must avoid intentionally undercoding Medicare patients for any reason. Businesses are fully responsible for the actions of their staff and any third party coding and billing associates as that is an important part of HIPAA compliance involving a patient’s individual records. Physicians attorneys warn that businesses suspected of violating these laws could be subject to audits.
Another main area of concern that raises compliance questions is data reporting. Most physicians are required to submit data through various reporting programs. This presents a number of HIPAA compliance issues that are directly related to the two points referenced above. Many practices do not have access to the most reliable and compliant data reporting tools. This puts physicians, staff, and patients at risk when required data is reported to Medicare and other entities that request outcome-based data. Rules regarding the meaningful use of patient information are continually changing as a result of HIPAA, giving healthcare businesses even more to keep up with.
Physicians attorneys stress that there is much more to HIPAA compliance than having patients sign release forms and using a secure business computer network. HIPAA compliance issues are common in a number of areas, including those mentioned above. Compliance depends on an understanding on the part of healthcare businesses of how HIPAA applies in these three areas and how to ensure total confidentiality as required by current HIPAA laws.
The Stevenson Law Firm, PC
6302 W. Broadway, Suite 120
Pearland, TX 77581
Phone: (832) 481-4548