Records management is a crucial concern for every healthcare practice. Not only do you have a moral obligation to your patients to manage their records responsibly, but you also have a legal responsibility under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to have a secure health record management system in place.
At Gilmore Services, we provide document management services and we have years of experience with records management for healthcare providers. Our clients sometimes ask us how to improve their health record management systems. Here are 5 ways to make your records management secure and efficient.
#1: Staff Education
The first step to fine-tuning your health record management system is to train your staff. When your staff has a full understanding of HIPAA regulations and their responsibility to your patients, they’ll be in the best possible position to protect you, your practice, and the people you treat.
Staff training should be part of your onboarding for new employees, but it shouldn’t end there. Just as you need to meet continuing education requirements to maintain your license, your staff needs to stay abreast of new rules and updated security changes.
#2: Limit Access to Medical Records
The next thing you’ll need to do is to limit who has access to your patients’ health records. You’re required to limit access under HIPAA, but we suggest that you limit access to a “need to know” basis – meaning that only staff members who have a need to access a patient’s health records will be permitted to do so.
The bottom line is that no staff member who is unauthorized should ever be able to access a patient’s health records, and that includes other providers in your office. Your staff should have access only when they need it and no outside vendor should be able to get to your patients’ health records.
#3: Fine-Tune Your Security
Part of limiting access is putting physical and technological barriers in place to protect your patients’ health records.
Physical barriers may include:
- Locked file cabinets
- Locked doors
- Electronic badges
Technological barriers may include:
- Secure passwords
- Two-factor authentication that includes a biometric confirmation of identity such as a fingerprint or a retinal scan
- A secure firewall
- A secure backup system
The more security measures you have in place, the less likely it will be that anybody who shouldn’t be able to access your patients’ confidential health records will be able to do so.
#4: Create a Document Management Schedule
Part of adhering to HIPAA and protecting your patients’ privacy is creating and sticking to a data maintenance and destruction schedule. Holding onto records longer than is needed may expose your patients (and your practice) to needless risk.
The person in charge of document maintenance should be aware of the potential risks of HIPAA violations. Any data or documents scheduled for destruction should be properly destroyed according to your schedule and documented accordingly.
#5: Partner with a Health Record Management Expert
Perhaps the best thing you can do to improve your practice’s health record management system is to partner with a company that understands HIPAA regulations and secure health record storage. While it’s possible to handle health record management internally, your staff simply won’t be able to match the experience of a company with decades of experience.
At Gilmore Services, we understand HIPAA regulations and we can provide secure, state-of-the-art health record storage, management, and destruction. We understand the ins and outs of how to protect your patients’ health records and we’ll provide you with documentation of everything we do, from picking up documents to imaging them to destroying them according to the schedule you specify.
As a provider, it’s your responsibility to protect your practice’s health records by creating a robust health record management system. The five tips we’ve included here will help you do it.
Need assistance improving your practice’s health record management system? Click here to learn how Gilmore Services can help!