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What You Need To Know About Medical Billing HIPAA Compliance

No healthcare provider would like costly penalties, legal ramifications, and damaged reputations for its practice. We are living in a digital age and today every healthcare provider works hard to ensure the safety and privacy of its practice. To protect the confidentiality of medical records and personal health information, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted in 1996. For all the providers who handle the patient data, especially in medical billing, HIPAA Compliance is a necessity.

HIPAA Compliance And Medical Billing

When we talk about HIPAA compliance in medical billing, it refers to safeguarding PHI during the entire billing process. HIPAA Compliance is a must while using, storing, and disclosing PHI by healthcare providers, billing companies, and insurance companies. To ensure PHI’s confidentiality, integrity, and availability, HIPAA regulations require healthcare providers to implement administrative, physical, and technical safeguards. As per HIPAA compliance, employees are trained in security policies and procedures, performing risk assessments, and developing contingency plans in case of data breaches.

There are various stages involved in medical billing and it is necessary to comply with the requirements of HIPAA with respect to the privacy of individually identifiable health information. It also includes the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of ePHI. There are also some cases where it means to comply with the Privacy Rule for oral and written communications.

HIPAA Privacy Rule

The HIPAA Privacy Rule is an important rule for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This rule regulates how healthcare providers handle and disclose important Protected Health Information (PHI). According to the Privacy rule, there are restrictions to access medical records and patients have the right to view and control their medical information. In addition to this, healthcare providers must have written consent from patients before sharing their PHI with any third parties, even if they are insurance companies or other healthcare professionals.

The main objective of this HIPAA Privacy Rule is to secure the confidentiality and privacy of patient’s medical records. To attain this confidentiality, healthcare providers must be willing to take measures of every kind to ensure that PHI is secure and accessible only to authorized individuals. If there is any non-compliance with HIPAA it will definitely lead to severe consequences, which include financial penalties and other legal repercussions which damage the provider’s reputation beyond repair.

Let’s take an example of the same. The University of Texas faced a $4.3 million penalty for HIPAA violations related to the HIPAA Privacy Rule. This happened because the center failed to establish appropriate security measures to protect valuable information.

HIPAA Security Rule

The security Rule of HIPAA highlights the administrative, physical, and technical safeguards that healthcare organizations must implement to safeguard PHI. The example of HIPAA security rule includes data encryption, recovery plans for any disaster, and training on security policies and procedures.

According to the Security Rule, it is also mandatory that healthcare providers conduct risk assessments and devise contingency plans to prevent data breaches in the organization.

A healthcare provider must take care that only authorized individuals with a legitimate need are able to access PHI. Disaster recovery plans must also be implemented to guarantee the availability of PHI during security incidents or disasters.

Moreover, the HIPAA Security Rule obliges healthcare providers to perform regular risk assessments to pinpoint potential security threats and vulnerabilities. By doing so, providers can proactively detect and tackle security gaps before malicious actors exploit them.

Therefore, the ultimate thing is that all the parties need to develop policies and procedures to comply with the requirements of HIPAA Compliance. One thing to keep in mind is that consequently, the application of policies to process medical billing operations in compliance with HIPAA may be influenced by local privacy laws of a particular area.

How to ensure that your medical billing company complies with HIPAA Compliance?

Notice Posting

As per HIPAA, it is important that patients have readable links to the notifications. This can be made accessible at the time of arrival at the provider’s website. Healthcare organizations must ensure that all employees send copies of HIPAA updates to all people when they arrive in the workplace. In this way, it is easy for people to view and learn when you present a HIPAA note in an office location.

Train the Workers

It is important for all the employees in the healthcare practice to be trained and up to date with HIPAA rules and regulations, even if they are new to the practice. For the office workers, it is a smart idea to conduct daily training as the regulations keep on changing frequently.

Today’s healthcare is continuously evolving. Under the security law, providers are expected to secure vulnerable ePHI. It not only refers to the provider’s office but to any kind of ePHI organization including clearinghouses, medical billing firms, and insurance providers.

Advantages Of Compliance With HIPAA

Prevent Any Kind Of Fraud Within The HealthCare

A comprehensive fraud detection program is set up by HIPAA. For example – Under HIPAA Compliance charging for treatments that have not been carried out or using incorrect methods for paying for non-insured services. is forbidden.

Patient Trust And Credibility Is Created

When you are compliant with HIPAA, it will automatically encourage you to proactively safeguard a patient’s medical records. You will take care of the current management practices and use the personal information of the patients judicially.

Gets A Shield From Expensive Penalties

When your practice is not HIPAA compliant, there is a high chance that you will not follow the rules and guidelines which can cost you expensive penalties. These funds can otherwise be used to advance the practice in various manners. Complying with HIPAA means that the practice would not be punished in case any violation occurs.

Get One-Stop For All Medical Needs

The portal can be used by both doctors and patients to interact directly to access and enter medical data. Compliant healthcare practices make the coordination, billing, and data storage therapy, without fear of HIPAA violation and the entire process is carried out in a straightforward manner.

Increased Profitability Of Healthcare Organization

When the patient’s trust and loyalty is created, and the healthcare is able to retain patients, the profitability of healthcare practice increases in the long run. When you retain the existing patients in your healthcare it means that your recurring revenue increases, and your organization will need a less new business to be profitable.

Benefit Of Differentiation

In today’s world, when the market is full of competition, it has become very important to differentiate your business from your competitors. One of the most excellent ways to do so is by working with the Compliancy Group to properly manage your HIPAA compliance program. It is also a great idea to display the HIPAA Seal of Compliance on your website and in your email signature. It shows your dedication to compliance with your visitors.

Most Common Ways Medical Billing And Coding Companies Commit Fraud

Upcoding

Upcoding is a scenario that occurs when providers try to get more money from insurance companies for billing patients for services they did not actually perform.

Under Coding

It occurs in a case where providers intentionally leave out codes for services provided. Here the intention is to avoid an OIG investigation.

Unbundling Codes

Unbundling refers to the situation when providers submit separate claims for services that could be submitted as one bill. This is an attempt to maximize payments received from insurance companies.

Falsifying Medical Records

The situation arises when providers falsify patients’ medical records, by altering medical histories, payment histories, or descriptions of treatment.

Penalties In Case Of HIPAA Violations

The violation of HIPAA guidelines is not a small issue. The violations can result in costly penalties, fees, and severe damage to reputation. The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for enforcing HIPAA regulations. It also carries out investigations into complaints of non-compliance.

Regarding the penalties, the OCR can impose civil penalties that range from $100 to $50,000 per violation and can go up to a maximum of $1.5 million per year depending on the type of violation. In the case of Criminal violations of HIPAA, the fines are of up to $250,000 and imprisonment for up to 10 years. Therefore, prevention is better than penalties, and partnering with an efficient medical billing company such as Eminence RCM is a step in the right direction.

Regular Review & Updating Security Policies And Procedures In The Key

To address the evolving vulnerabilities in the world of medical billing, healthcare providers should periodically review and update security policies and procedures. It is possible to do so by conducting periodic security audits and assessments to identify gaps and areas where improvement can be made.

Consider The Following Points:

To identify potential security threats and vulnerabilities, healthcare providers should conduct regular risk assessments. It includes identifying potential risks from both internal and external sources.

Develop and effectively Implement Contingency Plans

To respond to security incidents and data breaches, healthcare providers should develop and implement contingency plans. Several actions can be taken in case of any incidents and the incident response plan should be regularly updated and tested.

HIPAA Compliance is truly the most critical aspect of medical billing for all healthcare providers. Once an organization is HIPAA compliant, it ensures the security and privacy of patient information and protects providers from legal penalties and fines. HIPAA Compliance is also seen as a standard of patient trust and confidence. To ensure HIPAA regulations, healthcare providers should implement robust security policies, train employees, and limit access to PHI, to ensure compliance with HIPAA regulations. When a healthcare provider follows all the practices, it eliminates the chances of any kind of fraudulent activity within the organization.

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