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Quintessential HIPAA Guidelines for Release of Information Processes

  
  
  
HIPAA guidelines for release of information

Of the many different rules and regulations that govern compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Privacy Rule is arguably the most important for understanding how to securely create, maintain, and transmit protected health information (PHI). It is, after all, this specific rule that lays out the groundwork for permitted/authorized uses and disclosures, as well as any limitations and special circumstances. Just a simple glance at the Privacy Rule, though, will make it clear that there's a lot to take into consideration when handling PHI. To help you and your staff remain in compliance, this post will highlight a few of the quintessential guidelines for dealing with sensitive patient information.

Are You Getting Top Quality Release of Information Services?

  
  
  
confidential release of information services

As a healthcare provider, some of your biggest and most challenging responsibilities have to do with reviewing and responding to release of information requests. This complex process requires a great deal of skill and precision, as well as careful attention to the latest HIPAA updates. Some medical facilities employ an administrative staff who are expected to handle these requests internally, whereas others team up with a third-party company to shoulder the burden on their behalf. In either instance, though, it's very important that you keep an eye on the quality of your release of information services to ensure that you and your patients are protected. To help you assess the quality of your current services, here's a look at what you should expect.

The 6 Things You Should do to Control Release of Information Costs

  
  
  
control release of information 6

Have you ever sat down and thought about how much your release of information processes are actually costing you? You'd be amazed to see how quickly the numbers start to add up, and unless you start to proactively take measures to keep your expenses down, it's probably only going to get worse. As more and more people are receiving access to affordable healthcare, you can expect a higher volume of requests. Those facilities that aren't prepared to handle the influx of paperwork will end up losing money. It doesn't have to be that way, though. These 6 tips will help you to assess, tweak, and improve your procedures in a way that will allow you to reduce your overall release of information costs. 

Industry Best Practices for the Release of Confidential Information

  
  
  
release of confidential information

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act has been in existence since 1996. Despite the fact that healthcare professionals have been familiar with the Act for nearly 2 decades, though, an exceedingly high number of violations occur each year, many relating to the release of confidential patient information. Whether intentional or unintentional, there a plethora of ways in which rules can be violated and protected health information (PHI) can be compromised. Is your facility at risk for an audit by the Department of Health and Human Services, and could you be penalized for violations? To secure your operation against the threat compliance issues, here are a few tips and best practices for releasing confidential information.

The Only List of HIPAA Violations You Need To See

  
  
  
List of HIPAA Violations

When the Final Omnibus Rule went into effect last year, it turned a lot of heads and brought serious attention to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Despite all the press, however, the number of HIPAA violations and complaints filed with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) are actually on the rise. Complex regulations and a tiered fine structure make it increasingly difficult for healthcare professionals to navigate the system in a way that's 100% compliant with the law. How can you be sure that you, your staff, and your related business associates are all adhering to the rules? If you have any doubts, you're not alone. By taking a few moments to look at this list, though, you'll become familiar with the most common causes of HIPAA violations and security breaches, and how their penalties are determined. 

When Is The HIPAA Business Associate Compliance Deadline?

  
  
  
HIPAA business associate compliance deadline

In March of 2013, the HIPAA Final Omnibus Rule went into effect, but the rule changes weren't enforced until September of that year. While healthcare professionals were required to comply with the vast majority of the new regulations as of the September deadline, though, there was a slight exception when it came to agreements with business associates. The Final Rule redefined what a business associate actually was, and set specific rules about what contracts between covered entities (CEs) and business associates (BAs) must include. The new rule stated that any existing contracts between CEs and BAs must be updated upon the expiration of the agreement or by September 23, 2014, whichever came first. If your existing contracts haven't expired, though, you may have forgotten all about the need to make the required updates. To make sure that you don't fall out of compliance with HIPAA, here's a quick breakdown of everything that you need to know.

Are You Fully Aware of the HIPAA Awareness Policy?

  
  
  
aware HIPAA policy

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is brimming with regulations that pertain to the various practices and procedures within a healthcare operation - are you sure that you and your team are 100% aware of them all? One of the biggest problems that health organizations face is that HIPAA rules have changed throughout the years. Veterans of your facility may still be following old and dated procedures which can actually create confusion for newer employees who have been trained to act in a different way. It's extremely difficult to operate in a way that's compliant with HIPAA regulations when everyone is handling things in their own way. If this has created issues for you and your staff, it's time that you take the time to re-train all employees on your HIPAA awareness policy.   

Never get fined again with these Release of Information Best Practices

  
  
  
release of information best practices (1)

Whether you've ever been fined for violating HIPAA regulations as they apply to release of information procedures or are simply worried that it could happen to you in the future, it's important that you're able to avoid any problems before they happen. Unfortunately, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is very lengthy and complex, leaving many healthcare professionals scratching their heads or feeling less-than confident in their ability to comply. As a result, it's absolutely imperative that all of your staff are trained to recognize how, exactly, HIPAA pertains to the release of information process. So what should you include in your HIPAA training and awareness policy? Here are a few best practices to follow:

How to Spot - And Avoid - Harassment From Third Party Requestors

  
  
  
third party requestors

Although it's unfortunate, a growing number of third party requestors have begun to adopt practices to harass healthcare providers for access to protected health information (PHI) that they are not authorized to access. In recent years, these third parties have adapted their methods and figured out new ways to either trick their way into obtaining this confidential data, or bully release of information technicians in the attempt to do so. Each outside entity has its own reasons for trying to unlawfully review PHI. Some may be looking for ways to avoid making a full payment for services - or to make any payment at all. Others may be interested in obtaining information that could be damaging to a public figure, such as certain cosmetic treatments. Still others might be attempting to illegally raise insurance premiums for patients based upon genetic information. Whatever the reasoning, though, it's important for all those associated with the release of information process to be aware of what is going on, and to know what they should be looking out for. To help you protect your facility and the privacy of your patients, here are a few of the most common ways that third party requestors are harassing healthcare professionals for PHI.

Why should I stay up-to-date with a current HIPAA awareness policy?

  
  
  
hipaa awareness policy

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountable Act (HIPAA) is nothing new. For years, healthcare professionals have been required to adhere to rigid standards regarding patient's rights and privacy in order to avoid auditing, fines, and penalties. Everyone working within your facility should be well-versed in the law and very familiar with HIPAA requirements. As a result, you may find yourself wondering why you need to bother with a current HIPAA awareness policy. Isn't it just a waste of time and effort? The short answer to this question is no, but the reasoning behind that answer is much more extensive. Regardless of where you think you and your staff stand, it's more important now than ever that you make HIPAA awareness a top priority within your organization. Here's why:

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