Ensuring Records Management Compliance for Healthcare Organizations

As a healthcare organization, what does records management compliance mean to you? Is it primarily about safeguarding patient information?

Here’s a reminder of the key areas where compliance is essential in case your records management practices have been affected by your daily workload.

HIPAA Compliance

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets the standard for protecting sensitive patient data. Companies that generate and use protected health information (PHI) are required to implement physical, network and procedural security measures and adhere to them. HIPAA requirements apply to:

  1. Covered entities that provide healthcare treatment, payment, and operations.
  2. Business associates who access to patient information and provide support in treatment, payment, or operations.
  3. Other entities, including subcontractors and related business associates.

There are three main HIPAA compliance rules:

  1. Privacy Rule. This rule addresses the risk of PHI being compromised or used for identity theft. It protects the privacy of PHI by giving patients more control over their health information, setting boundaries on how companies can use and disclose health records and mandates safeguards to protect PHI.
  2. Security Rule. The Security Rule outlines regulations for protecting electronic PHI (ePHI). It applies exclusively to electronic data and focuses on administrative, physical, and technical safeguards to ensure ePHI’s confidentiality, integrity, and availability. It also identifies and protects against threats, guards against unauthorized use or disclosure, and enforces compliance among all staff and contractors.
  3. Breach Notification Rule. This rule defines the steps an organization must take when suspecting a data breach involving ePHI. It includes conducting a risk assessment to determine the impact of the breach.

Health Records Retention

Each state dictates the minimum period for retaining medical records before proper disposal. Typically, organizations must retain records for a minimum of five years from the patient’s discharge date, up to a maximum of ten years. It is crucial for each health organization to know the retention period for their specific records.

Health Records Disposition

Health records should not be destroyed before the expiration of their retention period, and they should not be stored beyond the retention period, as it increases the risk of a privacy breach. Health organizations are responsible for ensuring proper disposal of records and maintaining proof of their destruction.

Challenges of Managing Your Own Records

Providing the best medical care to your patients should be your primary focus. Maintaining your own records management systems can present these challenges:

  1. Consumes valuable staff time and attention.
  2. Increases the likelihood of medical errors.
  3. Results in delays in finding and retrieving records.
  4. Poses risks of records being stolen or damaged.
  5. Occupies valuable space with paper records.
  6. Requires labor and attention to maintain backups of records and systems.

A Records Management Solution

The benefits of using an offsite professional records management and storage company is that each of the above challenges are either considerably reduced or completely eliminated. A professional records management company will have the expertise and knowledge to ensure your organization remains complaint.

Pacific Records is a NAID AAA Certified professional records management company that provides off-site records storage in a secure facility. We are HIPAA compliant and can assist your healthcare organization in achieving compliance. Call us at 800-685-9034 or complete the form on this page to get started.

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