The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects the private medical records of patients. The federal mandate provides a set of rights in regards to health information.¹ For example, HIPAA is the leading force behind why patients must sign a privacy release form before sharing information with family.
HIPAA consists of a complex series of requirements for all healthcare facilities, including doctor’s offices, health insurance firms, and medical billing companies. This includes a set of procedures designed to safeguard private information. To ensure doctor-to-patient confidentiality, medical organizations must abide by specific rules for privacy at all times.
Document management software such as SmartSearch from Square 9, streamlines the process of maintaining HIPAA compliance for healthcare providers and related organizations. The encrypted program does this by automating the complicated process that goes into meeting HIPAA’s rigorous security standards.
Security Standards of HIPAA Compliance
HIPAA security standards require the restricted use of records by authorized personnel only. Document management software programmed for HIPAA compliance takes a multifaceted approach to security. The system administrators control who has access to the system and assign security clearances to more sensitive records. Thus, in order to access sensitive records in SmartSearch, users must sign in to a password protected system that is guarded by secure encryption technology. Any modification to documents will be tracked in the system’s automatic document history log and audit trail. Finally there should be a method to efficiently redact patient information when sharing records with third-party practices – such as medical billing providers - and confidential documents should be efficiently destroyed after the appropriate length of retention has passed.
Audit Control and Integrity
Audit control and integrity are two of the most important aspects of HIPAA management. Healthcare organizations have to record all use of protected electronic information, including any views or other modifications to the documents. Document management software tracks all actions of its users to prevent tampering with medical records. For example, the action tracking feature in SmartSearch records every occurrence into a history log that is accessible by the system administrators. These actions include document views and deletion, alteration of data or the use of annotations, release of records, and the application of electronic signatures.
Protecting Personal Patient Information
Medical providers use a process called redaction to amend documents for privacy purposes. Redact means to censor or obscure a part of a text for legal or security reasons, which is particularly important in a healthcare practice. When sharing medical records with an insurance firm, medical billing company, or another third party, it is necessary to conceal bits and pieces of data that may be too personal. This could be contact information, prescribed medications, dates of visit, or billing and payment information. Records management software includes a powerful feature that permanently redacts sensitive material in a way that cannot be undone.
Signed into law during 1996, HIPAA protects patient rights and prevents health insurance fraud. In addition to keeping us healthy, all medical offices must undergo special procedures to maintain confidentiality.
Square 9’s award winning document management programs improve digital business automation to customers worldwide. Square 9’s flagship product, SmartSearch document management software, automates any intensive record keeping process to streamline business processes. In addition to medical records, document management improves office automation in a number of industry sectors including insurance, government, legal, and financial entities. To learn more, please visit their website http://www.square-9.com.