Are Your Office Operations HIPPA Friendly?  Improving Patient Care and Protecting PHI

How HIPAA Affects Office IT, the Business Operations of Healthcare Providers and Overall Patient Care

From its inception, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has had many ramifications for healthcare providers, and when it comes to technology management and IT support, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

When HIPAA affects how and where your office utilizes its IT devices and systems, your business operation methods and the manner in which patients are cared for. This is a brief look at some of the ways HIPAA may modify the workings of your healthcare enterprise.


Protecting Your IT Devices

Your IT provider’s healthcare IT help desk service in the Bay Area can inform you about procedures such as data encryption and decryption, unique user identification and audit controls, all of which are required under HIPAA. But physically safeguarding workstations that have access to electronic protected health information (ePHI) is also a requirement.

Reception areas are one of the places where inadvertent disclosure of PHI may occur, and simple solutions such as privacy panels at right angles to the reception and scheduling counters, and asking queuing patients to stand away from the worktops, are all that may be needed.

Furthermore, when computer monitors are used in open-bay setups (such as dentists’ chairs), best practices require that care be taken to ensure that screens displaying patient information are not left facing other patients or passing foot traffic.

Who You Do Business With

HIPAA regulations not only cover your healthcare organization (known as a covered entity), but your Business Associates (BA). These are entities or individuals who you may release PHI to, including attorneys, accountants, cloud storage companies, web hosts, IT vendors, email encryption companies, consultants and healthcare clearing houses who deal with claims. As part of your path to harmony with HIPAA, you and your BAs are required to sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA).

Navigating Office Administration While Caring for Patients

 Regular routines are also affected by HIPAA regulations. For example, what happens with standard appointment reminders?

The University of Texas Health Science Center states that as long as patients are aware of this routine and the reminders are generic in form, that is, don’t necessarily state the name of the practice or clinic, appointment prompts are allowed under HIPAA. The same applies to sign-in logs in reception areas: no confidential medical information should be listed.

Helping your office navigate HIPAA-related Healthcare IT solutions are one of the specialties of Bay Computing– So get in touch with the Bay Area team of experts today and schedule a free onsite assessment to get your strategic technology plan started!

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