Cases of HIPAA violation are rising and even if you are a small practice, you can get on the government’s radar if you fail to protect healthcare-related data. Patient-related information is traded by cardiologists for various purposes, including medical coding and billing and if your staff happens to misuse the data accidentally or intentionally, it can result in criminal as well huge monetary penalties, damaging your credibility and revenue flow.
- Health data breaches (involving 500 or more patients) increased from 619 to 646 in 2013
- Theft of patient-centric data has been the major reason for such breaches whereas unauthorized closure/access was the second leading reason
- Largest number of breaches in 2013 were caused due to paper records, followed by laptops, desktop computers and other portable electronic devices
- Federal breach notification requirements under HITECH act have been made stricter, increasing legal scrutiny on practices
- The final HIPAA omnibus rule has included penalty revision for each HIPAA violation category. While one time violation remains under $50k, repeat violations in same year will cost fine of %1.5 millions across all violation categories
Preparation for HIPAA compliancy:
At a time when cardiologists are suffering from reimbursement cuts, handling the enhanced privacy and security enforcements has increased their difficulties. In order to meet the HIPAA requirements, they need to:
- Conduct assessment of any potential security risks to patients’ electronic data
- Review established security policies and procedures to determine if enhancements are required in the practice for complying with the rules
- Perform a risk assessment to find out if your practice is vulnerable to breach of patient information because any incident that involves your patient records will be reported as a breach
- Remain extra cautious in regards to paper creation, especially if your cardiology practice is sending a fax containing patient data to a third party outside the practice
- Take the HIPAA rule into account and map your current security program based on it
- Create unique contractual provisions with business associates of a health plan as HIPAA monetary penalties now apply to a range of vendors and their subcontractors
Time constraint has made it difficult for cardiologists to keep extra vigil on data system, train staff and implement comprehensive set of measures on a regular basis. Many practices are hiring a HIPAA compliant billing specialist who can perform billing and coding tasks while maintaining confidentiality of patient and practice information. A specialized billing partner ensures errors-free coding and billing for timely reimbursements and offers quick response, AR follow-up, EMR solutions, insurance authorization and several secured services with the help of trained staff and latest technology.
Medicalbillersandcoders.com offers HIPAA compliant medical billing services to cardiology practices across 50 states in the US. The expert billers and coders at MBC aim to maximize account receivables by streamlining medical billing and help cardiologists avoid litigations in accordance to the HIPAA Act norms. Our team is well trained in HIPAA compliant healthcare data management processes and systems and can help you balance between your clinical and operational functions.