Mar 1, 2021
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) exists to protect the privacy of patient information. Since its inception, the adoption of modern technologies has made that protection more complex. At the same time, developments in the tech world has also offered ways to better secure patient information. For that reason, the Department of Health and Human Services continues to push for the adoption of technology to help with this task.
There are a number of issues making paper patient records compliant with HIPAA. Even managing a practice’s HIPAA compliance with paper documents can be problematic. Document management systems offer significant advantages to ensuring compliance with HIPAA.
Here are 5 ways document management helps you with HIPAA compliance:
Encryption: One of the biggest benefits to using a document management system to manage patient documents and practice files is the ability to use encryption. The encryption offers a layer of protection that paper clearly cannot offer. Even other electronic storage methods cannot provide the same level of security. If a laptop is stolen or the practice network is hacked, PHI is still secure.
Document-level security. From within the system, you have the ability to secure individual documents from unauthorized eyes. In a paper-based office, if someone needs part of the patient record, they generally grab the entire record. With a fully-featured document management system like ECRVault, you have document-level security, so that within the patient files, you can prevent unauthorized access to specific documents, to further protect the patient’s privacy.
Audit trail. Your practice is mandated to ensure that only persons who require access to PHI are accessing. With paper documents, this is particularly difficult to track, as it partly relies on an honor system. With electronic document management, you have a complete audit trail that shows you who accessed different records and what actions they may have performed, like printing.
Manage Business Associate Agreements. Many practices have dozens of business associates that they are required to retain active agreements with. As these agreements all expire at different times (as specified in the agreement), practices have to periodically review these BAAs to check for any that are going to expire so they can renew it. This is not only time-consuming but a system that is rife with errors. A document management system makes this easier by offering a way to automatically track due dates and send alerts prior to expiration.
Track annual assessments. Many practices are not adequately tracking the annual assessment that is required by HIPAA. These assessments are a critical component of covering your practice’s liabilities, as it presents an opportunity for you to recognize violations and have a process in place for addressing those violations. A document management system can help track these assessments. ECRVault also works with expert partners to provide our clients with annual assessments and other essential HIPAA compliance services.
If you’re concerned about your HIPAA compliance, moving away from paper records might be one of the easiest ways to better protect your practice from privacy breaches and costly fines. By investing in a document management solution, your patient’s PHI is better protected and your practice can keep track of important HIPAA-related documentation.
Are you HIPAA compliant? Contact us about an assessment.
Craig Nielsen, OD