HIPAA Can Be Positive.
The mention of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) Compliance makes Practice Administrators and Office Managers nervous. Rightfully so, this law that mandates the protecting of patient information, security of healthcare records and the capping of administration costs has definitely had a big effect on the healthcare industry since its adoption in 1996. Yet, while patients grumble about the extra paperwork and office managers sift through the red tape of compliancy. Surprisingly, the specific HIPAA requirements are good starting points for well-defined job descriptions and performance review standards.
Positive Role Models
1) Accurate Job Descriptions
The healthcare industry, like many industries, has been a victim of the vague job description for many years. Often medical offices have hired staff in for one particular position and quickly the employees have found themselves becoming a “Jack of All Trades”. Dolling out job tasks like they are shuffling a deck of cards, practice owners and managers often as an expense saving tactic or simply because they had not industry standard definition to follow, have promoted multi-tasking to the detriment of patient quality of care. No More! HIPAA has set standards that clearly and accurately define job descriptions with hefty penalties for those who ignore them.
2) Quarterly Performance Reviews
Quarterly Performance Reviews have become a crucial part of the HIPAA Compliance framework. While many practice managers may feel overwhelmed with this regulated task, it should be embraced as a backup for project management. With solid job descriptions in hand, managers can now outline with defined clarity the goals and measures of job AND practice performance. Gone is the uncertainty of performance expectations. Instead medical practices have the tools, motivation and feedback to provide better patient care, improve job performance and bolster practice achievement.
3) Improved Patient Satisfaction
Another great advancement for HIPAA is in the improvement of patient satisfaction. By streamlining the whole patient care process, there is less scheduling drag, bill coding has been well defined and patient engagement has taken center stage in management of chronic disease care. Yes, patients have vocalized their displeasure in the need for filling out what they feel is unnecessary and redundant paperwork, but what they do not always absorb is how much more efficient and secure their medical care has become.
In addition HIPAA has garnered some protections for patient records disclosure and privacy. Employer insurance plans are now limited in their denials of coverage due to pre-existing medical conditions. HIPAA has also affirmed patients’ rights of privacy guarding against employers’ abilities to access employee medical records in hiring decisions.
Another great step in progress however has been in patient access to their medical records. Before HIPAA these records were often kept hidden from patients, shrouded in a veil of “healthcare industry secrecy”. Patients now have the right to access, copy and make changes to their medical records thanks to HIPAA.
4) Security, security, security!
By far the biggest HIPAA positive role overall, for both patients and medical practices, has been in the assurance of medical records security. While this can be a bit of a balancing act between being a pro and a con, overall it has been a win, win.
HIPAA has not only instituted a healthcare industry-wide, standard for the communication, disbursement and storage of patient records, but also the technology affiliated with medical care as a whole.
HIPAA Compliancy has laid out in detail the processes for data collection, data backup and handling of security threats. While yes this does keep medical practices on their toes in terms of keeping up with their medical technology and software security, it has also provided assurances that patient data being collected is accurate, up-to-date and accessible only to the right people.
As HIPAA Compliancy continues to evolve, medical practices should learn to embrace the positive aspects and view this standard as an opportunity for not only patient growth but also increasing revenue. A streamlined, efficient, HIPAA Compliant medical practice has nothing to fear from this government standard.
If you are a medical practice wrestling with trying to find the positive aspects of HIPAA Compliancy, contact the Medical Consultants Group. We can provide practice assessment, staff training and medical technology options that will have you seeing the HIPAA pot at the end of the rainbow.