If you are a gastroenterologist, then you already know the importance of handling protected health information of your patients and make sure that information follows the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance.
The truth is, HIPAA compliance violations may go unnoticed for a long period of time (sometimes, even years) before being discovered. But, the bad news is, violators are stuck with paying higher penalties, based on how long the HIPAA compliance violation existed. This could cost gastroenterologists thousands of dollars, which is why it is so crucial for those falling under the purview of HIPAA compliance to make sure they carry out risk assessments regularly by using third-party medical billing and HIPAA compliance services. The failure of a gastroenterologist to carry out a risk assessment to find any HIPAA compliance violations could also lead to a higher tier of penalties as well, which is why no chances should be taken.
Patient records comprise of all sorts of information, also known as identifiable protected health information, which needs to be kept safe or encrypted if patient records are being maintained electronically at the gastroenterologist’s practice. One of the most prevalent errors that can lead to HIPAA breaches is failing to properly preserve this information. Whether patient data are stored electronically or in hard copy, personnel must be aware of their whereabouts, even if only for a brief period. When a patient’s data is left out on a counter or opened up on an unattended computer, it is vulnerable to illegal access by anybody who happens to be around.
HIPAA mandates that all documents and information be stored in safe areas, out from the reach of unauthorized workers, family members, or any other passers-by. It’s critical to teach staff to lock all paper files in safe file cabinets. Suppose electronic protected health information (ePHI) is not adequately secured and only accessed on authorized devices. In that case, it can be readily obtained by thieves, which can then be used to break the law. This is the reason why under the privacy rule, all patient health information has to be kept safe by gastroenterologists.
The creation, management, and storage of protected health information is not the only factor that gastroenterologists have to ensure; as a gastroenterologist, you will also be responsible for the proper disposal of all patient-protected health information as well. Aside from keeping protected health information in a secure manner, gastroenterologists must also ensure that any unnecessary medical records are appropriately disposed of. This means all patient health documents must be completely destroyed, whether they are in physical or electronic form. This is crucial to ensure that these records do not get into the wrong hands.
So, how are these records to be destroyed? Gastroenterologists are advised to make sure that the disposal of PHI is under HIPAA compliance and that all patient records are wiped clean off the servers and storage devices if they are not in use. If the patient health information is being stored on paper, it is advised to make sure that all patient records are shredded and burned. Suppose the documents on patient health information are found by criminals and used against the patients. In that case, the gastroenterologists could face serious consequences, which is why it is important to make sure you hire professional medical billing and information management services so that all PHI is disposed of adequately.
As a professional gastroenterologist, it should be your prerogative to make sure your practice follows HIPAA compliance by hiring professionals for medical billing and revenue cycle management. You can also hire professionals to carry out a risk assessment of your practice. A thorough risk assessment should be enough to uncover any flaws in the organization’s present procedures for managing, safeguarding, and distributing protected health information. Once vulnerabilities have been discovered, you will have to work on enhancing the HIPAA compliance of your practice and ensure greater PHI security in the future.
There is a good reason why all gastroenterologists are advised to carry out risk assessments of their practice and hire professionals for medical billing and revenue cycle management, and of course, to ensure their practice follows HIPAA compliance. The penalties are broken down into two categories; willful neglect and reasonable cause. As mentioned, HIPPA violations can be costly, with non-compliance penalties ranging in tiers from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on the type of HIPAA violation. There have also been cases where gastroenterologists have had to pay over a million per year in HIPAA non-compliance penalties, which can easily sink your business and tarnish your reputation in the medical industry.
In short, taking HIPAA compliance for granted and getting caught (which happens eventually) could ruin your career as a gastroenterologist. This is reason enough for gastroenterologists and those offering gastroenterologist-related services to make sure that their business stays HIPAA compliant at all costs.
JBF Medical Billing, LLC. is an experienced and reliable billing service exclusively for Gastroenterologists and Gastroenterologist-related practices. What makes this service unique is that we offer it specifically for gastroenterologists and gastroenterologist-related practices. This means that your medical billing is being taken care of by the experts. Our medical billing software links easily to most of the EHR (electronic health records) software that physicians use.
JBF Medical Billing LLC. is also a proud member of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM), and the American Medical Billing Association (AMBA), so you can rest assured all of your Revenue Cycle Management and HIPAA Compliance are taken care of by the experts.