Key Criteria to Ensure Your Payment Collection Process is HIPAA Compliant
Healthcare practices of all sizes are required to ensure their sensitive patient health information is protected according to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Failure to comply with HIPAA standards can result in financial penalties, requirements to adopt new business practices, legal action and criminal charges, all of which can be very damaging to a business’ reputation.
Most think of healthcare breaches as being a result of equipment theft, hacks, malware or ransomware attacks or physical office break-ins. Yet according to Verizon's Data Breach Investigations Report, the reality is basic human error accounted for 31% of breaches in the healthcare industry. The most common errors fall into two categories: sending an email to the wrong address or mass mailing envelopes with addresses out of sync with the mail contents. Furthermore, what qualifies as Protected Health Information (PHI) extends beyond a patient's name and date of birth, medical records and insurance information – it also includes information that could identify them such as credit card numbers.
HIPAA compliant automated payment solutions
As practices look to streamline operations and deploy modern technology, it will be critical to know how to evaluate new solutions and ensure they meet all regulations. Here are a few considerations for implementing an automated payment solution that is both convenient and secure.
Eliminate manual entry: Each time data is used, transferred or processed in printed or in email form, a point of vulnerability is created that hackers can leverage for access. New automated payment platforms can limit such potential breaches of security. With an automated payment solution, gone are the days of handling and disposing of paper forms to process patient bills. These automated solutions enable patients to enter their payment information directly, which not only eliminates errors in manual uploading and saves staff time, but it also reduces the risk of patient information sitting around a healthcare practice as it waits to be entered. Loss or misuse of patient data can be fined up to $50,000 per incident, and as payment information can be considered an identifying factor, it is important that it is handled properly. Luckily, digital payment solutions alleviate some of the stress that comes from maintaining patient information by automating the payment process.
Compliant patient statements: All statements that a healthcare practice sends out must follow HIPAA guidelines. New billing systems enable statements to be sent via SMS text, email or mail. While patient statements should only provide enough information for the payment to be processed, oftentimes patients want additional details. Some solutions provide added safeguards for patient data. In fact, those that leverage QR codes or provide links to easily access patient payment information can require patients to use a secure log-in before gaining access. Choosing a payment solution that ensures safe sign-in and access to additional details about the service and cost breakdown protects patient data while keeping patients happy.
Easily and confidently distribute statements: As human errors account for a high volume of healthcare breaches, automating the payment process can help healthcare practices feel confident that the right statement is going to the right patient. Modern technology allows healthcare practices to streamline the patient collections workflow by sending pre-programmed text, email and mailed statements. These are direct from the payment solution, eliminating the risk of sending a statement to the wrong email address.
System compliance: Multiple factors are important to consider, but overall, choosing a system that is created specifically for healthcare can ensure you are HIPAA compliant. Some solutions ensure you have a secure log-in for all staff, safeguards against potential hacks and more.
Making your practice HIPAA compliant is critical for your bottom line and reputation. Switching to a modern payment solution can help you protect patient information – but not all solutions are created equal. It is important that your automated payment solution offers production conveniences and robust security you can rely on to protect your patients.
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