When the subject of HIPAA violations comes up, it can be easy to focus on the most egregious violations.
Consider former UCLA cardiothoracic surgeon Huping Zhou, who was fired from his job and proceeded to illegally access the medical record over three hundred times. He accessed the records of co-workers, including his boss, and several prominent celebrities. This resulted in a four-month jail sentence and a $2000 fine.
These kinds of HIPAA violations are troubling and significant to be sure, but the truth is that most HIPAA violations are unintentional and happen on a much smaller scale. It’s the one-off text message about a patient from physician-to-physician. A quick but overheard hallway conversation. That time you accidentally brought a patient label home in the pocket of your scrubs.
If you think that a mistake won’t get you in trouble, think again. Even if you exercise due diligence and unknowingly commit a violation, penalties range from $100 to $50,000 per violation (and the numbers only go up from there). Furthermore, the Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights has a “Wall of Shame” that anyone can view online.
Rounding at multiple facilities can compound opportunities for HIPAA violations, particularly the unintended sort. Rounding requires coordination on multiple levels from handoffs to patient follow-up planning. When you’re spinning that many plates, it helps to set yourself up for success.
Here are four ways that a software rounding solution can prevent the most common types of HIPAA violations – both intentional and unintentional:
How are you keeping track of the patients you need to see? If you’re carrying a paper list around, you’re in danger. Physical documents containing PHI should be kept in a secure location at all times. Paper is not only easy to lose, it’s easy for other people to see if it’s lying about on a counter somewhere whether they intend to or not. Imagine that you have a list of ten patients to see at the hospital and that list ends up at the dry cleaner. Since you should have exercised more due diligence, that fine could be anywhere from $10,000 to $500,000. For one piece of paper.
A software rounding solution stores your patient list securely in the cloud, allowing you to access it from a mobile device or a computer. This not only makes the list portable and collaborative in a way paper never can be but keeps it secure.
Some practices use shared online spreadsheets or other documents to keep track of patient lists. While you can’t accidentally drop an online spreadsheet off at the dry cleaner, if you’re not using an encrypted document you’re still violating HIPAA. Encryption protects information from hacking or other IT breaches – one of the most common ways PHI gets exposed. In May 2019 alone, hacking and IT breaches accounted for the exposure of 1,752,188 records. A software rounding tool provides the same access and portability with enhanced security.
Texting is a great way for medical teams to communicate. The message is written down, and if the recipient is busy caring for a patient, they can get to it when it’s convenient. However, it’s not HIPAA compliant unless those messages are encrypted. Spoiler alert: regular text messages are not encrypted and pagers are going the way of the Dodo bird.
The best way to solve for this problem is with secure messaging. Secure messaging is encrypted and therefor HIPAA compliant. The best software rounding solutions incorporate secure messaging as part of their product offerings. If you’re comparing options, look for one that connects messages to patients so they can be referenced easily in context later.
On the list of intentional violations, one of the most common is snooping in someone’s chart. At UCLA in 2008, thirteen hospital employees were fired and six physicians were suspended for accessing Britney Spears’ hospital records for no valid medical reason – and that was after the chief compliance officer sent out a memo reminding people what the rules were.
Effective software rounding solutions track who accessed what and when they accessed it. This acts as a deterrent, and provides documentation if discipline is needed.
Another common HIPAA violation is the failure to manage risks. By moving to a software rounding solution, your practice can mitigate risk while improving productivity and efficiency. HybridChart offers a full software rounding solution that addresses all the needs of rounding providers and their practices in one place. You can Jump Right In™ to get started with a free, 30-day trial today.
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At HybridChart, we provide technology that connects your healthcare team, increases efficiencies, AND improves your bottom line. HybridChart’s cloud-based software adapts to your practice’s unique workflow and will improve your profitability and patient outcomes by utilizing our 5 features:census management, charge capture, secure messaging, discharge management, and data analytics.
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If you are interested in taking your medical practice to the next level and want to employ the best hospital charge capture practice available in the industry, come visit our website at www.hybridchart.com, or call us at 1-877-684-0608 for a demo today!