Best Path for HIPAA Compliance? Risk Analysis.

Best Path for HIPAA ComplianceSo, what’s the best path for HIPAA Compliance? It’s risk analysis.

The HIPAA Security Rule requires covered entities and business associates to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all electronic protected health information (ePHI) that it creates, receives, maintains, or transmits.

Conducting a risk analysis—which is an accurate and thorough assessment of the potential risks and vulnerabilities to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the ePHI held by an organization—is not only a Security Rule requirement, but is also fundamental to identifying and implementing safeguards that comply with and carry out the Security Rule standards and implementation specifications.

However, despite this long-standing HIPAA requirement, OCR investigations frequently find that organizations lack sufficient understanding of where all of the ePHI entrusted to their care is located.

Although the Security Rule does not require it, creating and maintaining an up-to-date, information technology (IT)  asset inventory could be a useful tool in assisting in the development of a comprehensive, enterprise-wide risk analysis, to help organizations understand all of the places that ePHI may be stored within their environment, and improve their HIPAA Security Rule compliance.

 

How Can You Manage This at Your Organization?
You can try to manage this by yourself, but it would probably be more efficient and superior in implementation if you used an expert. A partner of EZClaim, Live Compliance, is one of those experts. They can help you easily manage, maintain, and assign your hardware and technical inventory to remote or in-office employees.

 

Do You Have Additional Questions?
If you have any questions about the best path for HIPPA compliance, contact Jim Johnson at Live Compliance (E-mail: jim@livecompliance.com; Phone: (980) 999-1585).

For more on EZClaim’s products, either schedule a one-on-one consultation with their sales team, or download a FREE TRIAL to check it out the software yourself. For additional information right now, view their web site, send an e-mail to sales@ezclaim.com, or contact the sales team at 877.650.0904.

[ Article contributed by Jim Johnson of Live Compliance ]

Online “Health Information Exchange” Is The Answer!

Health Information ExchangeAn online “Health Information Exchange” (HEI) can be the answer to managing the release-of-information (ROI) process completely digitally.

Many healthcare providers are spending a significant amount of time and money on fulfilling requests for medical and/or billing records. Outdated and inefficient modes of technology like printers, postal mail and fax machines make up much of that cost. Time spent on having employees complete record fulfillment operation—or money spent on working with third-party release-of-information (ROI) companies—add significantly to strains on manpower and/or budgets. Then add in the money spent on postage and in-office time spent responding to status calls, and you have a significant cost center that is not benefitting your business. 

In today’s digital world, both businesses and consumers expect efficient, safe, online transactions. While the healthcare industry had a longer grace period for digital transformation initiatives, a new survey reveals that 75% of people now expect the same service from healthcare organizations that they receive from other businesses. This is driving many organizations to re-think the current, highly ROI process and seek a simple, secure, and more cost-effective digital ROI solution. 

Utilizing an online Health Information Exchange may be the answer to your problems. By utilizing the FREE proprietary software that the country’s fastest growing HIE, ChartSwap, healthcare entities can manage the ROI process completely digitally in a HIPPA- and HITECH-compliant, SOC 2, Type II-certified and conveniently cloud-based environment. In addition to eliminating the need for paper, printers, postage, and other unnecessary and inconvenient expenses, ChartSwap allows records providers to conduct all communication with requestors 100% online without the security concerns associated with e-mail. 

ChartSwap users set their own fees and can quickly and conveniently collect payments electronically via either credit card or PayPal (which includes the option for ACH transfer). Over 90% of ChartSwap requestors use online payment methods, and for the few who still prefer to send a paper check, ChartSwap handles the receipt and processing of those payments on your behalf. That means that 100% of your payments for medical and billing records will be handled by the ChartSwap platform—at absolutely no cost to you!

Using ChartSwap has been shown to improve employee productivity by 50% or more, thanks to ChartSwap’s advanced digital workflows, automatic status alerts, and fully online communication model. Additionally, the turnaround time for fulfilling records requests via ChartSwap can be as quick as two days and rarely exceeds 14 days—that’s more than 50% faster than the turnaround time on requests fulfilled by traditional methods. 

To learn more about taking back control of your office’s record fulfillment operations, and turn this cost center into a profit center, visit ChartSwap today. 

ChartSwap is a partner of EZClaim, a medical billing software solution. For more details about EZClaim, visit their website at EZClaim.com

Failing to Implement HIPAA Causes Large Fine

Failing to ImplementFailing to implement HIPAA causes a large fine for a small town North Carolina health services provider. They were fined $25,000 for multiple, easily avoidable, HIPAA violations for “longstanding, systemic noncompliance” with the HIPAA Security Rule. [Note: The provider is a part of a health center which offers discounted medical services to the underserved population in rural NC, and the fines were reduced in consideration of this, but it still resulted in a significant monetary loss].

In 2011, Metropolitan Community Health Services (Metro), doing business as Agape Health Services, filed a breach report regarding “the impermissible disclosure of protected health information to an unknown email account.” The breach affected over 1,200 patients!

In addition to the large monetary penalty, the practice is required to develop and adopt a corrective action plan (which includes two years of thorough monitoring) after the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) discovered that Metro failed to conduct a thorough and comprehensive HIPAA Security Risk Assessment and Analysis. In addition, Metro did not implement a single HIPAA Security Rule Policy and Procedure for the health center. Possibly worst of all, Metro failed to provide workforce members with HIPAA Privacy and Security Awareness training until 2016!

Patients must trust who they share their personal, private, and protected health information with. A breach such as this, is obviously devastating for the patient, in addition to their doctor’s reputation. So, how can physicians ensure that they are meeting the HIPAA requirements and have proper safeguards in place to avoid this sort of breach?

First off, an accurate and thorough Security Risk Assessment and Analysis must be conducted to expose and target any potential administrative, physical, and technical vulnerabilities. Doing so  highlights any major flaws in a practice’s administrative and technical safeguards, and accentuates the policies and procedures that the practice needs to implement.

In addition to that, the designated HIPAA Privacy and Security Officer must ensure that ALL employees complete HIPAA Workforce training. All employees of the practice, including the physicians, must take HIPAA training to ensure employees have a clear understanding of the HIPAA Privacy Rule and actionable policies and procedures.

So, remember, healthcare organizations and their vendors have a responsibility to be HIPAA compliant, and that starts by performing, updating, or reviewing an accurate and thorough Security Risk Assessment covering your technical, administrative, and physical safeguards. This will help uncover any vulnerabilities, and help you understand what information is being transmitted, shared, and how it is being transmitted.

 

TAKE AWAYS AND THINGS TO CONSIDER:

  • Complete a Security Risk Assessment and establish a Corrective Action Plan that is accurate and thorough.
 Remediate any potential risks or vulnerabilities.
  • A Security Risk Assessment will target vulnerabilities related to what is potentially exposing Protected Health Information (PHI)
  • Develop actionable policies and procedures that clearly outline disclosures of PHI
  • Ensure all employees have a clear understanding of the HIPAA Privacy rule and its policies and procedures

 

Live Compliance provides everything you need to become and maintain your organization’s HIPAA compliance requirements. All policies and procedures can be edited and shared directly with staff from your staff portal. Trainings are delivered and monitored within your portal, can be customized, role-based, and be accessed anytime and from anywhere. You can also easily send and monitor HIPAA training with one click.

Failing to implement HIPAA can cause tremendous problems and use precious resources and time to implement. Live Compliance makes it 10X easier than trying to do it on your own.

So, take advantage of Live Compliance’s FREE Organization Needs Assessment to understand your immediate compliance needs. For additional details, e-mail Jim Johnson (at jim@livecompliance.com), call (980) 999-1585, or visit their website at livecompliance.com/oa

Live Compliance is a partner of EZClaim, a medical billing software company. For more details about their solutions, visit their website at ezclaim.com.

[ Written by Jim Johnson, President of Live Compliance ]

The PROS and CONS of Credit Card Collections

Credit Card CollectionsCredit card collections are a BIG part of any successful medical practice, and there has been a shift, in the last decade, that more insurance policies are adding co-pays with higher deductibles—which makes getting paid even more challenging.1 One industry report said that “73% of physicians shared that it typically takes at least one month to collect a payment, and 12% of their patients wait more than three months to pay.”2 With the current trend, more medical practices and their billing departments (or outsourced billing firms) are going the route of processing payment via credit cards, which has its PROS and CONS.

In light of this new information, the following are a few pros and cons for credit card processing that we anticipate in the near future, and some insights for choosing the best billing software that supports the credit card processing needs of medical practices:

  • PRO: To protect against the dangers of stolen data, fraud, or other compromises in security, practices should seek out medical billing software that has credit card processing built-in, which can help safeguard against these dangers.
  • CON: Security is a big risk, and a leak in data leading to stolen funds can end up in a physician paying out-of-pocket for the breach. It is also important to note that breach of credit card data is also considered a violation under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). 
  • PRO: Implementing credit card processing will reduce long waiting periods for payments from the majority of your patients, and will also reduce the additional effort your billing staff has to extend to collect on overdue notices.
  •  CON: Practices cannot require patients to share their credit card information to receive medical care, and even if patients do share their credit card information, physicians cannot continue to charge the credit card without a patient’s consent.
  • PRO: Physicians can end the process of being a “line of credit” to unpaid or underpaid claims, and collect on funds immediately.
  • CON: You will need to implement internal processes that include, but are not limited to proper personal information storage and security, establishing guidelines on maximum percentages charged per bill, and personal consent forms.

Overall, there are definitely MORE ‘PROS’ than cons for implementing credit card processing for your medical practice, and all the trends are pointing to this being the PREFERRED METHOD of payment in the near future.  EZClaim is proud to announce that it will release an integrated credit card processing solution, EZClaimPay, that is backed by a national merchant services vendor.  [ EZClaim will be sharing more details about EZClaimPay in the weeks to come, via their social media platforms, their monthly newsletter, direct communications, and more ]. 

 

In addition to the credit card  collections PROS and CONS above, we reached out to one of our partners, Live Compliance, to gather some regulatory and security advice. They suggested the following:

  • When accessing, transmitting, storing, or receiving any Protected Health Information (PHI), Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) mandates that you are to maintain HIPAA compliance. 
  • When accepting, processing, or maintaining credit card information and debit card information, you must ensure that your organization is PCI DSS compliant (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard).
  • In addition to the above Federal regulatory requirements, most states require privacy and security compliance requirements to be implemented, along with strict adherence to the privacy of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and Breach Notification requirements.

For more information on your compliance requirements, visit Live Compliance for a Free Organization Assessment to identify and uncover your organization’s vulnerabilities.

 

If you are not a current customer of EZClaim, we would very much like to connect with you.  You can either schedule a one-on-one consultation with our sales team, view a recorded demo, or download a FREE 30-day trial right now. For detailed product features or general information about EZClaim, visit our website at ezclaim.com.

 

[ NOTE: If you would like a quote on the upcoming merchant services, please e-mail sales@ezclaim.com your last three merchant statements.  For more on our ongoing updates and industry news, you can follow EZClaim on Facebook and LinkedIn ].

Source Material:
1 – America’s Health Insurance Plans” report that there were 20.2 million co-pays in 2017, which was up tremendously from just over 1 million in 2005.
2 – Source: From InstaMed’s annual “Trends in Healthcare Payments” report.

> For more on this topic, read a previous article, Why Do I Have A Balance? – Patient Payments”

New Requirements of New Data Breach Notification Law

On March 26, 2020 Washington D.C significantly amended its Data Breach Notification Law (D.C. Act 23-268), to expand the definition of personal information and require businesses obtaining such information to implement “reasonable security safeguards”. The new law took effect on May 19, 2020 in the midst of dramatic societal change. Indeed, COVID-19 has accelerated the digital transition and hastened the need for security and privacy issues to be at the forefront of state legislature. So, what are the major changes and updates under the D.C Act 23-268?

Data Breach Notification LawA Broader Definition of Personal Information

The definition of personal information has been significantly expanded and includes several new elements. Previously, the law only considered personal information to be a person’s first name (or initial) and surname and sensitive identifying numbers i.e. social security number, driver’s license number, D.C identification card number or credit card number.

Personal information also included a combination of a person’s name and any codes that would enable access to a person’s individual financial or credit account. The current update expands the definition of what is classified as personal information to the following:

  • Unique Identification Numbers: passport number, taxpayer identification number or any other identification number issued on a government document.
  • Medical Information: DNA profile or genetic, biometric or health insurance information.
  • Financial information: Account number or any numbers or codes allowing access to an individual’s financial or credit account.
  • Other Data: Any listed data that would allow an individual to carry out identity theft. The new legal definition also includes any username or email address combined with any information allowing access to another’s personal account.

Mandatory Breach Notification

  • C Attorney General Notification Notices:

The law previously only required the D.C Attorney General to be notified if over 1,000 residents were affected by a data security breach. It now requires the D.C Attorney General to be notified when a qualifying data breach affects 50 D.C residents or more.  The notice must include the nature and cause of the data breach, the number of affected residents, types of personal information compromised and corrective steps that have been taken.

  • Individual Breach Notification Notices:

Affected residents must also be notified ‘’in the most expedient manner possible, without unreasonable delay’’. New content requirements for individual breach notification notices include the types of data compromised and toll-free numbers for credit reporting agencies and the D.C Attorney General.

Business and Service Provider Security Requirements

Businesses and service providers are now subject to more stringent security protection requirements. Any organization handling D.C residents’ personal information must “implement and maintain reasonable security safeguards”. The amended law also stipulates that any entity using a third-party service provider must have a written agreement in place requiring the latter to “implement and maintain reasonable security safeguards”.

Failure to comply with the new legal requirements of the new Data Breach Notification Law and to implement and ensure “reasonable security safeguards’, there could be significant economic and reputational loss.

To assist you in identifying the extent to which your organization is at risk of a data breach, Life Compliance is offering a FREE Organization Assessment to determine your company’s specific vulnerabilities and risk exposure to cyber crime. This will ensure you have the best possible insight and protection as you guide your company into the digital future.

Live Compliance provides all of your HIPAA privacy, security requirements, and measures. HIPAA compliance is a requirement for Covered Entities and Business Associates to safeguard personal, private, and protected health information. Organizations can excel in health care without the struggle of compliance requirements.

Live Compliance is a preferred partner of EZClaim, and their software is integrated into our medical billing software. For detailed product features or general information about EZClaim medical billing solutions, visit our website, contact us via e-mail, or call our support team directly at 877.650.0904.

[ Written by Jim Johnson, President of Live Compliance ]

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